Alisa | December 2, 2014

Rule 10 - Be forgiving of other people’s mistakes

For today’s blogpost I have selected a rule 10 of the “Netiquette“ by Virginia Shea:
Be forgiving of other people’s mistakes.

2019 update: This is a part of posts series I wrote back in 2014 for my IT college (now TalTech) curriculum subject “Social, Ethical and Professional Issues in IT”. It was a hell of an interesting subject with a task to blog weekly on a number of predetermined topics. Years later I’ve decided to translate some of my posts to English and preserve those here. Be warned, this one gets a little personal – Alisa

I’d be happy to write that I am forgiving person and illustrate this with a nice story. However, more often than not, I find myself way more down-to-earth kind of individual. That is why the ending of this story is a life lesson that I have only managed to comprehend retrospectively, when it was too late.

This is a story of how my grandpa was introduced to internet.


When my grandfather was about 70 years old, he decided to buy his first computer. All the peculiarities and tips of using the computer were an interesting novelty to him. Grandpa explored new world of possibilities with curiosity and diligence. All his knowledge was meticulously accumulated into one thick stapled notebook. Next thing you know, he added an internet connection to the computer.

From the very first day e-mails started to arrive from him with lots and lots of emojis in between the text. Although this style is deemed generally inappropriate, I couldn’t help but recall how I myself (being 12-year-old internet newbie) heavily abused the magic of emojis. Thus, as our communication was private, I have just let this slide, not bothering explaining ins and outs of online etiquette.

Next step was Skype with almost daily mandatory calls. Here it is worth mentioning that residing in different countries, our “pre-internet age” communication were as rare as a single phone call in a couple of months. I have never been a fan of video calls (or any kind of calls, for what it is worth). But grandpa had always so much to tell me, so much questions (computer related or not) needed my clarification…

Grandpa and social media

It has finally happened during the day when I got a friend request from grandpa on Facebook. In a matter of hours since I have confirmed the request, he managed to comment on nearly all my status updates and photos. Of course, keeping the same communication style, as in e-mails or face-to-face. Although I love our inner jokes, I had suddenly realized, that some expressions can seem extremely strange to outsiders. Consider the fact that he is a much older man and nothing gives away our actual relation. =)

A phone call was made at this point. We had a talk about online privacy and basic etiquette, a difference between private messaging and public comments, about random people having access to our public statements. And of course, about the fact how lucky we are to be able to communicate conveniently via internet.

Thinking back, I have probably taken on too much of a mentor-like tone, leaving him a little dumbfound about sudden importance of some rules whereas yesterday there were none. This is where i have broken the Rule 10, not in essence, but in form.

This story ended suddenly just a couple of months after our “big talk”. Grandpa died. Eventually I have decided to keep all his “extremely strange” comments, because he was my grandpa in the first place, and it does not matter, what others think.

December 2014

Cover image by Andrew Wolff