Rules for engagement

I am mindful today of communication appropriateness. What do i mean? Well, most people today have access to Twitter, Facebook, instant messaging, texting and email before we consider the telephone or heaven forbid, ye olde letter. Or even face-to-face talking! So, what are the accepted codes of conduct for this myriad of new communication tools? Is it bad etiquette to instant message a stranger? If you receive a text from a friend saying, “How are you?”, isn’t this a conversation? And is it ever ok to reply with a succinct “Fine thanks.” Or am I alone in loathing text-convo-ping-pong. What if you call someone and leave a message, which they decline to return, yet you see them tweeting all day? Does this automatically mean they are ignoring you as clearly they have both working fingers and phone? What about Facebook faux pas? A study by behavioural researchers at Harvard Business School and Carnegie Mellon University revealed that people were actually more likely to reveal intimate details about themselves online, regardless of it being a global platform. Likewise Twitter… is it not rudimentary that one should post only that which you don’t mind the whole world knowing? I was appalled, not remotely titillated, to read Liz Hurley and Shane Warne’s saccharine love tweets. This was beyond passive-tabloid-news-junkiedom, you’re right there with them, in real time! Besides, why tweet when you can talk… same device after all? At the time Liz had 185,065 followers… which seems an awful lot of people to share pillow talk with.

And so, if you’re not of a rampant self-publicising/confessional inclination, how should one proceed? As a mode of marketing or advertising, these platforms are absolutely unparalleled, brilliant for updates, insights, soundbites, questions and breaking news. In my capacity as Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Decoration, I certainly have taken to Twitter (follow me here) with a hitherto unknown enthusiasm! But as for my private self? Well that’s personal, between me, my family, friends (real, not virtual) and the beloved. And I can count all of them without the aid of a calculator.