Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Clear as mud... do you speak my language?

It's amazing how we all assume that we can be clearly understood, well we all speak the same language and communicate regularly via lots of different methods. The art of the conversation is alive and well, even if it is carried out in pieces that are under 140 characters. Or is it?

Communicating via a medium like the internet (admit it; for a brief moment there you thought I was going all paranormal with the word 'medium', I'm a techie geek not touchy feely so no, no talking to ghosts on this blog) is a curious thing. How often have you received an email and thought “I don't like that tone of voice” or seen a comment to a Facebook status update and thought “Ooh that's a bit harsh!”? It seems that although we are using a written word to communicate we are still imposing inflexions to the words and phrases we are reading. Giving the screen in front of us a voice as it were.

Verbally my life is full of banter, I joke and tease my Mummy friends and take all their return comments in the humour it's meant. This doesn't work well through the written word; let's take what Italian Stallion's mother said to me last week:

“Oh Dear! Look at what your child is doing? You're such a Bad Mother!”

Now written down does not seem jovial or pleasant, how ever said smiling over a cup of tea and a Welsh cake it was a high compliment indeed at DangerBaby's new found skill of showing her son how to break our home cinema equipment (not that Italian Stallion needs any encouragement in that department!).

We miss the subtle eyebrow movements or smile lines (they are not wrinkles!) in the written word, and we add tones depending upon our current mood. Which is why it is a real skill to write successfully online. Your written words need to be read with the tone with which you write them, you should be leading your readers into the tone it was meant. A skill few possess but all of us should aspire to... So as I write this with a smile on my face, I hope you understand that I don't yet have the skill but I'm aspiring to it.

Thank you to Katie from “what Katie did next” for the inspiration to this blog. If someone had been clear in their request for images, this would have been a very different blog about IT Speak and how to understand it. I'll save that one for another rainy day...

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