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Has the digital era killed our sense of etiquette?

By Catherine Hawley, Reporter, @CatherineH_WFMZ, chawley@wfmz.com
Published On: Mar 25 2013 08:48:21 AM CDT
Updated On: Mar 25 2013 08:53:04 AM CDT

Do you have digital manners

When's the last time you sent a thank you note? When you sat down, actually hand wrote it and popped it in the mail? Chances are it's been a while.

These days we're more likely to send a text a tweet or a facebook message, if anything at all. The digital age is rewriting etiquette.

"If there's one rule, it's generally that there are no rules," explained Lehigh University Assistant Professor of Journalism and Communication Jeremy Littau. "Which can lead to a lot of different types of behaviors."

Older generations may think texts are rude, while folks immersed in modern communications think voicemails are for dinosaurs. Pundits say it's because people up in years maintain the same etiquette online and off-line. The same is not true for so called digital natives.

"They're a group of people who have grown up only knowing a world that has online environments," shared Littau. "That group has actually constructed the way in which they behave off-line in conjunction with how they're learning how to behave online."

He says it results in social norms going out the window. To this generation, communicating online is one ongoing conversation so there's never any need for please, thank you's, hellos or good byes.

"They are increasingly a generation that is spending more of their time communicating online versus off-line compared to their older peers," said Littau.

It has its benefits, but some say we're also suffering from constantly being connected.

"I think we make the mistake of thinking the Internet is this thing that we live in and it's actually a tool we use, it's a tool that we use to communicate."