Civic Sense and Netiquette: Responsibilities and Examples

Civic Sense: Have you ever wondered why the roads were littered? Why there were spat marks on the pavements? Have you seen someone go on a wrong route and curse at you because there might have been an accident? Of course, it wasn’t your mistake but you had to listen to the curse. This is all a daily picture of lives in India. One last question, have you seen people blaming the government for all these? I can assure you that all of us have either blamed the government ourselves or have seen someone else do it. But, is it the government who is at the wrong or is it us, the citizens who are lacking something?

I am sure some would blame the government; nonetheless, I would say that we, citizens have also lost our sense of responsibility over time. When we speak of a sense of responsibility, one might wonder responsibility towards whom and why one needs it. Before I just go about telling you things, let’s talk about civic sense.

Civic sense can be synonymously used for social ethics, are the unspoken social norms one must adhere, to have a smooth life. Human beings are regarded as social animals and being social animals, we have given our consent to some unspoken norms. For example, being polite, having consideration towards the old, sick, and young, being generous to the needy are just a few to name. Lack of civic sense is catastrophic to society.

Where does one learn these unspoken norms?

Tracing back in history, all ancient societies have thought moral teachings through storytelling for a long time. In Europe, civic sense started with the oldest Republics of Rome and Athens. Socrates and Plato attempted to define the virtues. Then, parental and academic authority was included in civic virtue. With time came the Enlightenment era, where freedom was the most popular. Parental authority has lost its charm. Then came the conservatives, who emphasised on the family values and obedience to elders and the state. Civic virtue focused on individual behaviour and responsibility therein.

Along the way, Holy books have also played a significant role in imparting civic values. All the Holy books, irrespective of religion, teach a deep sense of moral values and spread the message of kindness, compassion, generosity, non-violence, and the dos and don’ts of life. Even so, the primary learning of civic sense comes from home and schools. Children should be taught civil sense from a young age in order to make them a part of their life. These teachings at an early age can influence adult behaviour.

Read: Political Science for Beginners

Civic Sense in India and other countries

It is a matter of concern when we try to compare India with countries like Japan, South Korea, Canada, or The Netherlands. These countries are well known for their civic sense and public responsibility for their society, unlike India. Japan, is said to be the most orderly nation with a low crime rate. Citizens follow the rules very well. For instance, if you lose your driving license or wallet, and you will get them back, people drive and walk in their designated areas, no loud music is played in subways, and they don’t litter the walkways or roads, and many more. During the 3/11 earthquake, the shops were left open leaving all the goods but there was no looting. If it were any other country, we would have expected looting and loss of materials.  These examples might seem very petty but they make a great impact on the way a country progresses.

We can defend India by stating its large population and the great disparity in literacy; nonetheless, we also ought to accept that there is a lack of civic sense amongst us. Here are a few basic civic values that every Indian needs to keep in mind –

  • Never spit on roads and public spaces – Indians have this habit of spitting everywhere possible. Thanks to COVID, this habit might reduce with time.
  • Never urinate in public spaces – we all have seen uncles attending to nature’s call in open spaces, this, unfortunately, is very unhygienic and needs to be addressed.
  • When using a public toilet, think about the person who uses it next – not only are there very few public toilets in India, but they are also in very bad shape. It isn’t the fault of the maintenance staff but that of the users who don’t leave the toilet in the way they want to use it.
  • Throw garbage in the dustbin – we have come across aunties who toss the garbage out of the buildings and landing just in front of you (lucky not on you). This idea of keeping the house and workplace neat but not the surroundings is also hazardous. Flies and mosquitoes that tend to breed outside the house have the tendency of entering your house. Hence, not just your house, but the neighbourhood also needs to be kept clean.
  • Drive-in your designated lanes – driving on the wrong side of the road is very dangerous not only to the driver but also many others using the road.

Not only do we need to inculcate public ethics but also internet ethics. With times changing and the new normal demanding online presence of most of the population, we need to look at the internet etiquette for the better tomorrow.


Netiquette comes from two words network and etiquette which means a set of rules for acceptable online behaviour. With all the day-to-day life turning into online mode, online ethics and etiquette are as important as public ethics. There are a few core pillars that should be used by socially responsible internet users –

  • Recognizing that the internet is the extension of society – online is the extension of the offline world, it is nothing new. Hence, one has to keep in mind the norms one uses in public while online too.
  • Applying the same standards online as we do in public – one has to behave in a similar manner online as they do offline. It is to be kept in mind that one leaves their footprints online as they do offline and are easy to trace in case of misbehaviour.
  • Refusing to empower abuse and harassment while online – there are crimes offline and with the advance of technology, these crimes have been extended to online modes too. The cyber-crime section lays down a clear picture of the possible crimes and one has to avoid them and complain in case of experiencing it.
  • Acknowledging cultural differences – in a civic sense, there are national boundaries that define the limits of the norms that are applicable in different societies but on online platforms, there are no such boundaries. Being a boundary-less domain, we come across various people with diverse cultures and we need to make sure to respect all of them

These are a few ethics that have to be kept in mind while dealing with online domains.

Conclusion: Let us now get back to the question of the sense of responsibility towards whom and why one needs it. After the thorough knowledge of civic sense and netiquette, we can conclude that the sense of responsibility is towards us, the people. No matter where we are and what race, gender, creed, etc. we all need to respect and be responsible for ourselves and our fellow beings for greater world peace. Having a sense of responsibility does not only make our lives easier, but we also make it possible for everyone around us to have a decent and better standard of living.

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Sunaina is an undergraduate student pursuing Political Science and Economics from the University of Delhi. She finds herself in a never-ending quest!