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By Hazel Henderson*
Now everyone and every organization on the planet is going virtual, we can observe some simple rules and etiquette in all our online communications, so as to preserve our internet and ensure priority access for our children trying to learn online and all our first responders, health and other public service providers and trusted information sources.
Naturally, we humans are social creatures and in most countries in isolated lockdowns, we yearn for our natural physical connections and contacts. This has led to reaching out online as never before and is straining the platforms that provide these services, as reported in The Economist “Breaking the Net”, (4/4/20). These services are still providing for streaming videos, TV bingeing, exchanging cat pictures, and the arms race of webinars, videoconferences for operations, marketing and management needs of millions of companies of all sizes, as well as online gaming and other less necessary, often frivolous uses. We, along with millions, were backing “net neutrality “allowing all uses of the internet equal access for all content. Yet, as noted, “the question is on everyone’s lips: will the coronavirus break the internet?”
Hopefully, theses platforms will be robust enough for handing all this explosion of traffic online. The weakness may be mobile networks, where in many parts of the developing world, the 4 billion or so users of the internet access it by their mobile phones. Many are also using their phones for entertainment as well as work and personal communications. Base stations are overloaded, calls drop, speeds slow while in developed societies telecoms are dealing with huge surges in call volume. Yet, the longer stay-at-home rules continue, people are turning to video chatting and streaming video and more online entertainment. Those thrown out of work can’t get on unemployment websites or phones to access their checks. European and other regulators have asked big streaming services, Netflix, Amazon, YouTube to reduce the quality of their videos to free up capacity.
Many advertisers in the USA are still running obsolete ads showing happy crowds, hugging and portraying physical togetherness, irresponsibly wasting bandwidth while contradicting current rules on physical distancing.
So why don’t all of us who are conscious of the vital need to maintain these internet services, just use and promote our own rules for responsible internet use, especially when video is unnecessary and we can communicate effectively on audio, and our phones and landlines. We at Ethical Markets are using these simple rules:
- Make sure that your communications are necessary and can be on e-mail, audio or phones where possible.
If video is necessary for meeting new people on webinars, make use of the video for introductions, then turn to audio, for the meeting, and only turn video on again to wave your goodbyes
- Make sure that any webinars you organize are for information purposes, rather than for comfort, entertainment, competitive branding, advertising, marketing or PR.
- Simplify your e-mails and make your communications as concise as possible.
These simple rules won’t harm anyone’s business or other outreach activities. Rather such politeness and consideration for essential users and public information can help assure that the internet can continue to be the vital backbone of our lives for the foreseeable future.
*Hazel Henderson, author, futurist is CEO of Ethical Markets Media Certified B. Corporation, producers of the global TV series “Transforming Finance” and the forthcoming e-textbook, “MAPPING THE GLOBAL GREEN TRANSITION, 2009-2020”.