Wired Pursuits

Posts Tagged ‘social etiquette

Every space has its etiquette – both physical and online spaces.

When I first started messing around in the social media world I found  there were no guides who’d help me learn the lingo.  And, there was a bit of the “if you don’t know how it works, you’re an outsider – not one of us” mentality.  You either had to dive in or lurk around a while and try to figure out the etiquette on your own.  At least online you have a choice.

I recently attended the C&T conference at Penn State.  Many of the sessions were in their wonderful Cybertorium – a huge lecture hall with a 1 ½ story video screen, state of the art equipment, and sound system.  It also has about 15 tiers of stadium seating.

Arriving early to the conference, as I’m a bit of a punctuality freak, there were only 2 people in the room, both in the front row.  I wasn’t sure if they were the speakers or audience members.  I had no social cues about where people sit.  Do they tend to cluster at the bottom towards the speaker/teacher?  Do they hang in the middle or stick to the top rows?  I had to make a choice, so I worked my way closer to the front of the room.

People started entering the space and immediately gravitated towards the middle and back, leaving me way up front with just a few people in my row.  Awkward.  It appeared that I had chosen poorly.  Unlike in an online social space, I wasn’t able to lurk unseen and pick up on the social cues before jumping in.  Of course, I could have left and come back later, but it got me thinking…

  • Do online social spaces allow new visitors to orient themselves before being “seen?”
  • Does this lesson the anxiety of entering new and unknown spaces?
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