Sometime in our youth, we all learned some etiquette, a fancy word for the simple act of treating others nicely in a social situation. You know, say “pardon” or “excuse me” if you want to leave a conversation. Don’t interrupt. Don’t cover your mouth when you’re talking. Or pick your nose. Or your ears. Etc.

But we’re never in social situations now, except virtually. I’ve been to virtual birthday parties, business meetings, cocktail hours and impromptu chats via Zoom (or Facetime or whatever) and I’d just like to point out that Zoom etiquette is different. Here are a few simple rules.

  1. Look at the person talking, not at the image of yourself. It’s weird and uncomfortable for the person you’re talking to for your eyes to be wandering. You know that person at a live party who is always looking over your shoulder to see if they see someone more important to talk to? It feels like that. Don’t do it.
  2. Bringing me to rule number two, which is really rule number one: Take a quick look at yourself before you go on a Zoom call. Make sure you don’t look like you just woke up. Or worse. Even though of course you did. Still, a swipe of lipstick and an attempt with the comb will be appreciated by the viewers/friends. Or just put on your sunglasses.
  3. Therefore, rule number three: Give a little warning. Pop Zoom/Facetime calls are a bit disconcerting because you can’t follow rules number one and two without advance notice. Just a text saying, “Hey! Gonna Facetime you in a sec!” That gives you or whoever is being called a chance to get out of bed and put on a shirt.
  4. When you’re actually on a Zoom call with several people, don’t interrupt. This is even more important during a Zoom than it is in person. It’s confusing enough, what with the iffy connections and all those faces looking at you at once, to hear five voices at once and not know who to reply to while someone else is making a hopeful witticism and someone else is changing the subject. Best to mute yourself and let others talk until they’ve finished.
  5. Practice. The more you talk virtually, the better you get at it, the more fun it is. Right now it’s like we’re all junior high-schoolers at a party.
  6. Okay, one more—do I have to say it? Don’t eat and Zoom at the same time.