Cybersmile and cyberfrown

I wrote most of what I say below as a response on another blog, but find I feel I want to share it here on my own blog as well.

Richard Armitage’s recent blog The Human condition and social media has created quite a stir and, as I blog a lot about him, I find it hard to not say anything on the matter as, obviously, this touches me too. However, Richard’s blog is not something I wish to dissect here online and in writing. And here is why…

I am always careful to enter into these kinds of discussions or discussions on politics or religion or whatever online on any written forum like e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, etc. In writing, you don’t see the other person and their expression or body language, you don’t hear the intonation and meanings are often understood differently to how you meant to write them, no matter how carefully you try to phrase them. This is true for any written blog and for any discussions that follow.

Last week at work I had a good example of this. I was writing something that I knew could be a little controversial that I wanted to send out to all my colleagues and open up a discussion. I made sure to write down certain conditions, just to avoid misunderstanding. And don’t you know it, a few days later someone came to me taking exception to what I had suggested in the e-mail. I explained the conditions face to face to that person and he was like “Oh! If you mean that, then it’s OK.” I told him I had said that in my email too, but he said he had not understood it that way. Others had understood my conditions, this guy hadn’t. Talking with him face to face cleared up more (and in addition gave me new ideas as well!) than anything I could have written.

Agree disagree cartoon

Isn’t it some rule in communication that 80% of meaning is given through body language and only 20% through words? It is easier to go into a fruitful discussion face-to-face than in writing because in writing you have to explain way more to get the same message across and emotions more easily get out of hand. So, for me, controversy can be much worse when done in writing than when it’s done face to face. As I am a harmomy-seeker that gets hard for me. Just to be clear, I want to quote Guylty here who wrote in a reaction on her blog: “I don’t need the harmony of opinion; I need the harmony of conduct.” That also describes me…

That doesn’t mean I think these things should not be discussed in writing! It is good that they are discussed! It just means that I pick my battles so to speak, and this isn’t one I want to enter into. It has everything to do with recognizing that Richard’s intention is very sincere, and I love that, but also seeing that the execution may be a little uneven here and there.

OK, shutting up about that now. 🙂

I hate that discussions on these topics get so severe. So, I get when Richard says you need to think before you write – but even when you do, everything still very much remains open to interpretation, especially when things are worded a little vaguely or when emotion takes over. Even what I wrote here can be taken differently to how I meant it, but I wanted to share this anyhow…


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