Today, I thought we’d have a little chat about good manners when it comes to messaging. By messaging, I’m referring to communication methods like texts, Facebook Messenger, and iMessage. These type of communications are sometimes referred to as instant messaging and that’s an important clue about how they should be used.

Messages should be treated a bit like a phone call or a visit. Anything you send via a text or message should be a personal message. Something you’d call someone up on a phone to say in person or go knock on their door to deliver.

Would you call someone up or go over to their house to ask how they were feeling or how that job interview went? Yes, you would.

Would you call someone up to tell them they need to call eight other people, in turn, to pass on good luck? Highly unlikely.

Would you walk to the office down the hall to hand someone a photo of your grandchild? Yeah, you might. Would you walk around your office to hand 13 coworkers a sparkling card that says they are beautiful and that they need to pass it on to 13 other coworkers? I hope not.

Would you call someone up 15 times a day to tell them jokes you just heard?

Am I making my point? Try your best to limit text and message communications to actual personal interactions. That doesn’t mean you can’t share a joke or a funny meme with a friend. But don’t bombard people with forwards and chain letters.

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There are actually outlets for items like that. Try posting it on Facebook. It’s much less direct and people can easily choose to ignore if they want. It’s hard to ignore things when your phone keeps dinging with message updates.

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Group texts and messages are fine for setting up family or group get-togethers but don’t use a group text or message to send a chain letter.  You may have seen similar posts to the one below popping up on social media.

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One good rule of thumb is to only send what you would bother to type out yourself. Don’t just hit that forward button to move something on. Don’t just send some scam or urban legend that you’ve made no effort to verify. If you don’t have anything personal to say, use a more public forum like Facebook or other social media. Heck, start a blog. But, if you’re going to use instant messaging like a text or an instant messaging app, including FB, Instagram, or Twitter’s direct messaging options, please think for a minute.