Do’s and Don’ts of Digital Etiquette

Nathan Tan is the CEO of Forgetful Gentleman, a men’s stationery and accessories line, and the author of The Forgetful Gentleman, which offers advice on choosing the right suit silhouette, fostering the art of conversation, hosting a successful party, mixing a signature cocktail, working out like a Navy SEAL, developing creativity, and more.

In honor of graduation season, we asked Nathan to share some advice on digital etiquette. Read on for his do’s and don’ts—which can be applied whether you’re a new or not-so-recent grad.


DO conduct a periodic audit of your online presence to ensure the persona that you are projecting is an authentic representation of who you are or the person you want the world to see. Look at your social network profiles as a prospective employer, father-in-law, or parent. Check every photo that you are tagged in. Read old emails and text messages for politeness, clarity, and content. Take any necessary steps to ensure your virtual persona matches your real-life character and values. New web services like even allow you to control your online reputation via SEM, helping people find you, not the drug dealer who happens to share your name.

DO take advantage of social network targeted privacy settings or “friend” groupings to separate your nine-to-five from your five-to-nine.

DO review and proofread before hitting send/post. Digital communication is absent of facial expression, tone of voice, and body language and is therefore easily misunderstood. Proofreading is especially important on a mobile device where small keyboards, sensitive touchscreens, and diabolical auto-correct features can conspire against you. As a gentleman, be acutely aware that all communication is a direct reflection on you. Donโ€™t let typos, malapropisms, or grammatical mistakes send the wrong impression.

DO be careful with apps that share information about what articles you read or which sites you visit. Your decision to read up on the latest celebrity rehab stint during work hours is questionable enough already without broadcasting your potentially embarrassing reading habits to the rest of the world.


DON’T shout by typing in all caps. If you want to add emphasis, underline, bold, or italicize the word(s) instead.

DON’T get too personal or overshare. Status updates and comments are meant for short, general statements and well wishes. Anything more personal needs to be taken out of public view to email or, better yet, offline communication.

DON’T tag or post pictures of other people that they themselves would not tag or post. When in doubt, ask permission first.

DON’T “friend” people you don’t know or hardly know. You can waste a lot of time on social media “rabbit holing” through the lives of people with whom you don’t really have any meaningful relationship. That time is much better spent deepening relationships that matter.

Albee Dalbotten
Associate Marketing Director, Entertainment/Digital

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  • Archie September 17, 2013 at 2:42 am

    I think you can add "wait until after take off and landing" or "refrain from livestreaming your travel by plane until the aircraft takesoff or lands" ๐Ÿ˜€ Social media, in a way, has made this SOP not-so-SOP for aircraft travellers now. I personally think this is under the scope of digital etiquette as well. ๐Ÿ™‚


  • Peter February 10, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    These are great tips. I wish more people would adhere to the all caps "don't."


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