There is something I have learned about myself in the last two years. I am not at all IM savvy. Not at all. For one thing, I cannot handle IM jargon: “cus”, “ur”, all caps, no capitals, improper punctuation. it drvs me CRAZY
I also seem to be completely incapable of distinguishing emotion over IM. I don’t have a strong enough emoticon vocabulary and neither does anyone else I communicate with. It can throw me into a complete tail spin. When you add to that other common communication issues like gender, distracting environments or multicultural interactions it can become a muddle mess of misunderstandings. And those little colors next to people names! Are they there an ignoring you or has their idle just not kicked in yet? If you say something wrong and they are suddenly busy was it you or did someone just step into their office or perhaps they got a phone call?
Now I have IM on my phone and even when I turn my computer off, my phone says I’m on-line and I start to receive messages, “R u thr????” And what about those people who are attached to their phone by an invisible umbilical chord yet don’t answer your IM’s when their light is green. Later they say, “oh I was away from my phone,” yet the next time you see them the are checking it every five minutes. Then there is that horrible guilty feeling when you get caught doing it for real.
I wonder if all communication technologies go through growing pains. Did this first happen when the phone was invented? Indian men are excruciatingly difficult to read and I never realized until I made more friends that all the Indian guys I know sound like they have lost their best friend when you talk with them on the phone. Are they all trained at call centers from a young age to maintain that somber, monotone voice no matter what?
Not being able to hear emotion in someones voice is like being blind for me. I don’t know what the correct response is sometimes. I have been so inundated with emotion my whole life that it is much a part of communication for me as words are. Even when someone says the right words, reasonable words, kind words, they can sound like a complete lie to me without the cue of emotion behind it. How do you get beyond that? You cannot ask someone to change their intonation just for you. I suppose you could send out a mass email to your friends saying, “Please update your emoticon vocabulary.” Perhaps someone can develop an emotional translation devise for our phones.
The age of technology is a wonderful thing. It has certainly allow me to branch out in a way that was not possible ten or fifteen years ago. But, to tell you the truth, the best communication I have is at the dinner table when everyone is calm, content and enjoying themselves. There is something to be said for that most ancient way of social networking.
These are some of the cookies I am making, with the assistance of DB and KC, for Artswalk this year. Many cooks and food bloggers are donating baked goods to raise money for the Thurston County Food Bank. They are delicious, please come join us there.