I have lately been perusing through a delightful antique volume I received from my grandmother, the 1892 edition of Modern Manners and Social Norms by Mrs. Julia M. Bradley. (Okay, I have a thing for old books—no wonder I like to write historical fiction. 🙂 )
It’s been helpful in researching my current novel to give me a feel for 19th century mourning customs and letter writing etiquette, but in reading the latter section, I thought, “Wow—these really apply to social media!”
It’s funny how human nature—and what constitutes politeness and kindness—really don’t change much over the generations. And I can’t help thinking that, if we took these old-fashioned etiquette guidelines to heart when posting on social media and the internet in general, it would be a positive thing.
Plenty has been written about avoiding political rants or personal attacks on social media (still happens all the time), but I thought it would be fun—and perhaps thought-provoking—to share these Victorian tips of politeness in communication and see if you see the same parallels I did.
So take a peek. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!
“Do not write a letter unless you have something to say. If you have little to say, be brief.”
“Never write anonymous letters. If received, ignore them. A writer ashamed to give his name is unworthy of notice.”
“Never write in a passion. The spoken word may be forgotten, but a written word cannot be recalled.”
“Always address superiors, or those in office, with the utmost respect. Be cautious about assuming a familiar air to comparative strangers.”
“In writing friendly letters imagine that your correspondent is present, and you are talking to him.”
“In trying to be brief, do not become dry and curt.”
And finally, a good word for us all:
“Write nothing on paper which you would blush to have ‘proclaimed from the housetops.’”
So what do you think? Do you agree that these letter-writing tips apply to us in the social media world today? Which point stuck out to you most? Please comment and share!
Wow! It is pretty amazing how these old tips still apply. I guess good manners are just that–good manners, no matter the time period. #3 (I guess that’s numerically correct) stands out to me. Never write in passion. I publicly discuss sensitive issues online, so I definitely try to follow this rule of thumb, as well as not attacking people even when their ideas or positions are different from my own. So far, I haven’t lost any friends! Guess that particular tip works for me :).
It is interesting, isn’t it? And #3 definitely stuck out to me too…good advice. I think you do a wonderful job discussing sensitive topics with wisdom, a level head, and grace–on social media and otherwise. Just one reason I’m blessed to be your friend. 🙂
Kiersti, these lessons on manners are great. And yes, very appropriate for email and Facebook. I wish everyone knew them!
Haha, me too. Thanks, Marilyn! 🙂
The sum of these are great but I particularly love “Never write anonymous letters. If received, ignore them.” That’s one for the ages – especially the internet ages. Lovely post!
That is a great one! Blessings and looking forward to our next writing session. 🙂