“Did she really mean to say that?”
We communicate by using words. More and more these days, we do so by writing them instead of speaking them. I’m one of those who doesn’t mind this. I’m not much for the phone. I’m a talker, so when I do get on the phone, mountains of work time get sucked down the drain. And yeah, it’s my own damned fault.
This doesn’t make me a bad person, btw, just one with many, many good friends and a huge family with sisters…<g>
Plus, there are times when it’s easier to keep your bad/sad feeling to yourself through writing rather than speaking.
But communicating through writing and reading can be tricky. I’m sure you’ve noticed, I use lots of smiles and grins. No, I don’t sit at my computer grinning like an idiot– and yes, I use “heh heh” instead of he he, because I read in serious literal fashion and the first one sounds more like a chuckle to me. The second a giggle. I’m not much of a giggler either.
But there is a real reason why I use so many grins, smiles and chuckles. Seems when I don’t use them, the meaning behind the words I use can be misunderstood. I’ll leave a comment that was supposed to be a joke and wasn’t taken that way. Then I end up feeling bad and over-explaining myself.
In email, sometimes, we can sound cruel or sarcastic and not mean to at all.
If you think about it, it really breaks down to the mood of the reader. Without hearing voice or seeing expression, we have no way of knowing how that person is feeling when he/she opens that email.
If they’re feeling a little victimized that day, maybe they’ll see your words as an accusation. If they feel depressed, they could take them in too many negative ways for me to go into here. You all know how freaking wordy I can be.
Maybe someone just kicked their cat and they’re a little pissed about it. Someone kicked mine recently and I got angry about it off and on for days. I might have opened an email and taken it wrong because I was already feeling like smacking someone around.
Plus, there’s always that fun translation mis-connection through connotation. (Doesn’t this make you want to hum that old cartoon song from the seventies–uh, if you’re old like me– Conjuction Junction…)
Here’s an Internet definition of connotation:
the associated or secondary meaning of a word or expression in addition to its explicit or primary meaning
So, so many words out there that mean more than one thing and without those facial expressions or voice inflections, well… basically, we’re all kind of guessing. It’s easier when you know the person and can picture their face as you read, but how many of us have made connections on the Net with people we never see?
It’s a great-big-old strange, technological world we’ve made for ourselves, isn’t it?
Any funny misreads to share?