Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Importance of Being Earnest

As someone who is old enough to remember days before the internet and online communication, it's interesting to think about how dramatically things have changed. We now have access to each other 24/7; we can see what friends are doing at any given moment on FB or Twitter; research a topic at any hour of the day or night and get up-to-the-minute information on our bank accounts and stocks. We are able to look up friends we've lost touch with, find others who share similar interests and meet people from across the globe. The world is at our fingertips.

Written communication is now the norm. No longer do we need to sit down, put a pen to paper and drop it in the USPS mailbox. We don't even need to pick up the phone and speak directly to a person: for a short communication a text will suffice and letters have been replaced by emails.

With this ease of communication comes a host of problems. When things are put into writing much of the context is lost: there is no face-to-face interaction which gives a large part of meaning to the words that are said. Something that might obviously be a joke when told in person could come across as a nasty remark without the hand and facial gestures that would have accompanied a verbal exchange. Misinterpretation is easy when reading others' comments.

Another tendency is to put everything out there: every emotion, feeling, interaction. What used to be saved for a personal journal with an individual's most innermost and private thoughts is now published on the web for all to see. Is this healthy? Who's knows? I do think that because we're typing into a computer and not having a conversation and looking into another's eyes we tend to overshare and say things that might otherwise be saved for a private personal conversation.

I've also noticed that we don't hesitate to put into writing things we would never say to someone in a face-to-face conversation. It's much easier to be blunt and honest to the point of rudeness when you're not looking at the person you are "talking" to. Perhaps it's just because I am of the generation that is accustomed to communication prior to the internet that my skin is a bit thinner than those who grew up with this technology. It could be that in another 20 years everyone will be telling each other "like it is" and nobody will think much of it, and I just need to evolve with the times.

Personally, I'm going to try to make it a point to not say anything over the internet that I wouldn't say to someone in a face-to-face conversation. Call me old fashioned but I'd rather not have every detail of my life flapping in the wind for all to see, nor would I like to be someone who is blunt and inconsiderate of people's feelings by telling them things about themselves that they probably won't acknowledge anyway. Walking away is still a good option, even if it's a virtual walk-away by clicking the "close" button.


CL said...

So have so much wisdom, Mrs. Nunnari. <3 CL

CL said...

That should read you have so much wisdom, Mrs. Nunnari. My brain works so much faster than my typing fingers. :) <3