Online Etiquette: The Challenges Of Being A Late Adopter

We all value the importance of innovation in so many different ways. Without innovations in medical science, a slight cold would keep us out of action for weeks. Developments in other areas keep us warmer, cleaner, looking younger and more besides.

As with everything that has upsides, there are also downsides to consider. When it comes to technological advancement, the primary downside is that people who grew up in a less advanced age can struggle to adapt. It’s true that we are seeing more and more people of retirement age getting online and using apps. The other side of that is that there are some who don’t pick it up as quickly.

It’s not even just an age thing. Think back to the early stages of any tech innovation. Cell phones, Twitter, even email. There were always some people who called it a “fad” and didn’t bother getting on board. People who just assumed it would be here today and gone tomorrow, only to find that decades later it would still be here. Just like we have early adopters for all innovations, we also have latecomers.

If you’re in that group or know someone who is, it’s a little like a foreign language to begin with. Picking it up is a tentative process. You’re convinced you’ll make mistakes. Worried about embarrassing yourself. Everyone else seems to get it quicker than you.

Well, you will make mistakes. But it’s how you learn from them that matters.


Problem #1 – It really is like another language.

For people who didn’t catch texting or instant messaging in the early days, it must have been weird to see the lingo enter the mainstream. All of a sudden “OMG” and “LOL” were all over the place. Although historic documents show they might not have been as new as we thought.

A suspiciously large number of people claim to have a relative who thought “LOL” meant “lots of love.” This led, of course, to awkward text messages like “Sorry to hear you and Sophie split up. LOL, Mom.”

No sooner did we catch up with abbreviations than emoji became a big thing. Now they are even the subject of a movie in development. Like “OMG,” they’re going to stick around. So familiarize yourself with and learn how and when to deploy them. We don’t want the “LOL” message embarrassments all over again but with incorrect use of “100”.


Problem #2 – Trolls. Who hurt them?

The relative anonymity of the online world – especially social media – has its advantages. Imagine trying to make conversation in a room full of people you’ve never met. The fear of making a poor first impression inhibits us. Online, some of those barriers come down as it’s easier to make a quiet exit.

The problem is, it’s not just peeling away inhibitions for the “nice but shy”. It also does it for morons. Few people would walk up to you at a group counseling meeting and openly mock your fears and shame. Online, some people see it as open season and are outright horrible.

Those of us who were there from the start can usually spot a troll and take the appropriate action. For those who were not: Remember, these people see being unpleasant as a sport. Do not feed them. The overwhelming majority are only that confident online. The “mute” and “block” buttons leave them shouting their poison into a void. Which is how it should be.

If they are particularly vile, if they threaten or intimidate you, report them. To the site, the police and anyone else who may listen.


Problem #3 – Spam: It’s getting cleverer.

The postal service was around for years before marketers hit on the idea of junk mail. The length of time from the first email account to the first spam message was a lot shorter. Spam used to be easy to spot. An unfamiliar email address trying to sell you prescription-only meds? Delete without hesitation.

There are still obvious, mindless spam messages around, but spammers and scammers have learned from the crude first wave. They play on known fears now and use more sophisticated techniques. A popular one which catches tech novices out is the “Your Account Has Been Hacked” scam.

Even those who are not tech-savvy know that hacking is a thing. They know it happens online, and so when they get an email saying it’s happened to them, it can be convincing. The key here is that no official body will contact you to ask for your account details.

Unless you have initiated the contact, never give them out. Report the message as spam and, if you are still concerned, call the company concerned.

In Conclusion

The things that are designed to simplify and add interest to our lives will sometimes bring complications with them. But if you learn as you go along and are prepared to spend some time confused, the online world is a blast. You just need to know where to look.


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