It is common knowledge that there's a lag time between technology and the law. I believe there is one between technology and etiquette, too. It used to be that when faced with a question about etiquette all one had to do was consult Emily Post. She had all the answers: wait until 3 people have been served before starting to eat, send a gift within twelve months of a wedding, and a thank you note for gifts received within one month. Where is the Emily Post equivalent for the questions brought on by modern day technology?
For example, what is an reasonable timeframe in which to respond to a text message? Anybody? When I text someone, I expect them to text me back. Not the instant they get it, but within a day or so. If there is a question within a text, I believe a recipient should answer it. If it’s just a random text like, “This funny thing just happened!” Then maybe it doesn't warrant a reply, but when someone sends me something like that, at the very least I send a “J” or "LOL". That way, the sender knows that I got their message, and that I am indeed alive, and not dead in a ditch somewhere. But that's just me. And I am considerate. Unfortunately, I am also sensitive. OK...I am overly sensitive. That's why when someone doesn't return one of my texts, I can't help but think that they must not like me very much. Or they don't care about my feelings. Or worse, they know it hurts my feelings and that's why they are not answering me! It's a long, dark rabbit hole, and I have a very hard time not going down it whenever someone doesn't text me back.
And what about Facebook? It used to be that if someone was going to have a party, they mailed invitations to the people they wanted to include. These invited people then knew better than to go around broadcasting the fact that they were invited, because it was commonly understood that it would be rude to those who were NOT invited. That common courtesy has gone out the window with the invention of Facebook. Now everybody knows about the party, knows ahead of time when it’s going to happen, who all is going, and that they were not invited. Then during the event they have to see all the pictures that the invited people post of themselves enjoying the party, as the event is played out in real time. Of course I know that I could just not log onto Facebook in order to save my feelings, but there are so many other things I’d miss knowing about if I do that. For example, I wouldn’t know what kind of sandwiches my friends ate for lunch, who had a cold, who got a new kitten, etc.
I'm not saying that I'm perfect. I'm sure there have been a few times that I forgot to respond to a text message, or posted pictures of some soiree I'm having (or attending), without thinking about how that might make people who were not invited feel. I just wish there was some rule that we could all agree to and abide by. Until there is, when faced with a high-tech etiquette dilemma, maybe we ought to ask ourselves, "What would Emily Post do?"