Misinterpretation and Consequence
As a writer, it’s important, when writing our characters’ stories, that we use descriptive words to give the reader facial expressions, tone of voice, stance, demeanor, everything for them to read the scene in its entirety. However, in the real world, face to face conversation is not always possible, therefore we turn to social media. We text, we email, and IM, and in our post haste to get those messages out, we use quick spurted sentences with abbreviations galore, dropping any words that might give meaning and substance to it; no facial expression, no tone of voice. Now, I’m not saying you should get into texting phrases like “he cocked a brow” or “he listened intently to what I was saying while darting his eyes across my edges”, you’d be branded a looney if you started doing that. Yes, loony I tell you.
When there are no emotions attached to the scribble, not only can the reader miss the inner meaning (and there’s always an inner meaning, its called the feelings of the writer), but it also leaves the door wide open for misinterpretation in its entirety and that coupling is a recipe for disaster. It could easily morph an innocent statement into a disastrous consequence should the reader misdiagnose the context in which it was meant and believe me, texts, IM’s and the like, have no prejudice. Even us writers fall victim to the ease in which those abstract writings flow from our fingers — we are just as guilty for sending off misguided meanings as we are receiving them.
Though it drives me crazy how much we rely on social media even when we have the opportunity to be close, up front and personal, the world is evolving and I must learn to adapt with it. So here is my advice from a recent lesson learned:
It’s difficult to read between the lines in both real life and social media, however, face to face has expression to give us clues of understanding and if we don’t get it, we ask. With social media communications, it seems to me that we shoot and ask questions later, often going off half-cocked when we read something that upsets us though it could have an entirely different meaning. My advice and I’m going to take my own advice; read the words, try to put them into the proper perspective and if it upsets you or you’re not sure how to take it, fall back on that old adage “ask and you shall receive”. You just might save someone a lot of heartache, including yourself… believe me, I know.
One more thing… remember, even if you return a heartfelt apology, if its delivered through abbreviation it has no soul. Yes, they have been known to go far, but sometimes it’s just not enough — your response may run too deep.