Online Communication

Discussion in 'Evolution of Language' started by Ken Anderson, Dec 12, 2015.

  1. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    Even in this forum, problems with online communication have come up from time to time. You see, personal communication involves a combination of the words we use, tone, facial expressions, body language, and probably other types of non-verbal communication.

    Most of that is missing in online communication so there are times when someone, who might be joking, is taken seriously, or when what is intended as a friendly discussion is taken as a personal attack.

    Some people try to fill in some of the gaps by using smileys to indicate when they are joking, yet even these are sometimes misused. Anyone who has participated in forum or Facebook discussion has seen people using smileys after obviously hurtful comments.

    I rarely use smileys, yet I often joke in online discussions. Rarely do I intend to be hurtful or cruel in anything that I say, but my online comments are sometimes taken as such. Yes, I suppose I could use smileys, but I'd rather use words and hope that people might come to know me well enough to know that I wouldn't suddenly insult them without reason, and realize that if I seem to be doing that, I'm probably joking, they might be reading something into the words that weren't intended, or perhaps I was simply not careful enough about the words that I used.

    In political discussions, I like to argue my points strongly but that certainly doesn't mean that I hate someone who is disagreeing with me. More often, I am enjoying them, particularly if they are also arguing strongly, and speaking to issues rather than personalities or labels.

    Not all of us know one another well enough to recognize when this occurs, but I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. In forum discussions, we are expressing ourselves in words and, as we learn from time to time, not all of us are even using the same definitions for the words that we use or encounter.

    It is easy, also, to forget that people are usually multi-faceted, so labels are most often faulty. Democrats sometimes refer to George W. Bush as a right-wing conservative, while I view him as a progressive who continued the policies of Bill Clinton, and who was succeeded by Barack Obama, another progressive who has continued the policies of George W. Bush. I used to consider myself to be a conservative, but so many liberals and progressives have adopted the label that it doesn't mean anything that I can identify with anymore.

    Today, people who consider themselves to be conservatives are usually in favor of constant intervention in foreign wars while the traditional conservative position was one of near isolationism. Traditional liberals would be considered conservatives today.

    These are things that are difficult to explain in a forum conversation because they tend to move the subject of a thread off into a tangent.

    Apart from the fact that we don't all use the same definitions for the words that we use or the labels that we might assign to ourselves or one another, most people hold positions and viewpoints that don't fit into any particular label. Someone might be liberal on one issue but conservative on another.

    For example, I am pro-life. I am opposed to abortion, but I am also opposed to capital punishment and involvement in unnecessary wars. Most people who consider themselves to be pro-life are very much in favor of capital punishment, as if life ceases to exist once a person becomes an adult.

    These things are difficult enough to figure out about a person in real life, but it is doubly hard in online conversations. We tend to make assumptions about one another based on the positions that a person might take in one conversation. I don't see this here so much, but people who know me only on Facebook are always countering negative things that I might say about Obama by saying that George Bush did this or that, as if recognizing the many flaws of a Democrat means that I must be a Republican. Barack Obama and George Bush agree on far more than I agree with either one of them.

    We all make assumptions about people based on too little information. This is why it's best to stick to issues and to try to avoid assigning labels or making assumptions about what someone might think about one issue based on their positions on another.

    I don't claim that I'm better at it than anyone else, but if we can respect one another enough to disagree from time to time without bringing hatred into it, discussions will improve greatly, particularly in the more sensitive areas of politics and religion.

    I love discussing politics and religion but I don't enjoy hating people or having people hate me. When I was in Bible college, we would sometimes be assigned to take positions that we did not hold, and to be prepared to debate these positions. Some people hated that, but it helped to bring about an appreciation for the positions of others. Not everything is as black and white as we sometimes want them to be, yet there are absolutes and the alternative to black or white doesn't have to be mud. Sometimes, people can hold legitimate positions that differ from our own.

    They might be going to hell for it, but we don't have to hate them in the meantime.

    Some people would use a smiley there, but I prefer to hope you would all recognize it as a joke.
     
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    Last edited: Dec 12, 2015
  2. Terry Page

    Terry Page Very Well-Known Member
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    Excellent post Ken and I totally agree that we often misunderstand what another person is saying online, due to all the missing non verbal information.

    When I was younger I used to enjoy discussing politics and religion, and would be invigorated by the energy present in a good argument. I find as I have aged I no longer feel inclined to argue, I have lost the desire, the mental energy and no longer have sufficiently strong feelings to want to argue or discuss. I avoid politics and religion on forums for these reasons, though I accept these areas of life are very important to many and I do sometimes read various points of view members put forward.

    I live by own set of humanitarian principles which are a combination of most religious ideologies, I have been exposed to during my life, but I do not practice any rituals or belong to any religious group. Personally I tend towards the humorous side of life and do use smileys whenever I can, but accept your point that they can cause problems by being misused, or mis-interpreted.

    I read most of your posts with my serious hat on and consequently often miss your humor I feel, I need to understand more about where you are coming from and the context of the remarks you make.

    This is another area which causes much confusion and not an easy one to overcome, but I guess all we can do is to give as much information concerning the context of our remarks when posting.

    It's a bit early in the morning for me to make a sensible post, so I may come back to the subject later. :)
     
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  3. Tom Locke

    Tom Locke Very Well-Known Member
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    I studied linguistics and something that is evident in any form of communication, be it written or verbal, is that context counts for a great deal. One example I can remember using was a case of using the same words, but where the meaning can be completely different depending on who uses them. For instance, if a good friend that I had known for 30 years called me "a drunken Irish git" that would be very different from being told that by someone I barely knew.

    For the most part, I tend to avoid religious or political debate, though I make the odd foray into these areas if I feel strongly enough about a specific subject. I am very aware that my views, which I'm sure people have noticed are of a left-wing persuasion, do not exactly fit with those of many of the members of this forum.

    Something that tends not to work very well in written format is irony and I'm probably guilty of this from time to time. It's never a bad idea, if you're involved in discussing something that could generate a little heat, to sit there and re-read your posts for a minute or two.
     
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  4. Holly Saunders

    Holly Saunders Veteran Member
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    Excellent post Ken...and I totally agree.

    I am a big emoticon user in the hope that people pick up on the actual intent and meaning behind my post...however there are still people who just 'like' to take offence and are willing just to twist anything that's said in the hope of causing an argument...it's irritating and annoying not only for me but for others who then take offence on behalf of the offended...if you get my meaning..and before you know it we have a whole bag of worms.

    I have been a member of forums for decades now..many different types...and I've also met lots of people at forum meets too...and I'm going to be honest here and say that so many people are completely different offline for both good and for bad..than you can imagine from their posts.

    I like to think I'm as much like my forum persona in real life as I can be which is someone who tries never to be upsetting to others unless directly attacked ....however I've been stunned a couple of times in the past when meeting someone who seems to be very nice on the forum only to discover they're full of anger and bile in real life...and I have to admit Vice versa as well ...

    It's just something I've never understood
     
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    Last edited: Dec 12, 2015
  5. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Very Well-Known Member
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    I am in agreement with what you wrote also, @Ken Anderson . I rarely (never?) use smiles or other emoticons either, and for the same reason. I like to express what I am saying with my words well enough that people also can read the feelings behind my thoughts and words.

    I also enjoy discussions on many subjects, and controversy is often an excellent way to learn things. While I may not always change my viewpoint, I like to understand other people's viewpoints about the topic, as long as they are presented in a way that is not deprecating or insulting. I have no tolerance for insults or arguments, and my thought is that if insulting someone else is the only way a person can defend their beliefs or ideas, then there is probably not much solid facts behind their words.

    Another good point that was brought up by several people already, is that it really helps to know the person that is talking to know when they are joking or serious.
    Often, we can get a good feel for that even when conversing with people online; but is definitely better when you can see the person speaking and hear the words, and you get the whole connotation of what they are saying to you.

    It seems that we have a really good group of people on this forum, and everyone is respectful of other's viewpoints and ideas, even when we do not agree with each other.
     
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  6. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    I still like to use a smiley just in case people don't know I'm joking. I'm seldom very serious though and people that know me realize that but I don't want to take a chance and offend someone.
     
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  7. Carlota Clemens

    Carlota Clemens Well-Known Member
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    Good point Chrissy, because many times people take something trivial too seriously, and an innocent comment is sometimes taken as an offense.
     
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  8. Jenn Windey

    Jenn Windey Active Member
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    I use smileys and emoticons if I have them to match the context of what I wrote. Many years ago, back in the chat room days, I had my first encounters with learning to read what was meant between the lines. I wise soul told me that it all boils down to semantics. As I have learned that can vary from geographical areas and the various usage of the English language. Now it is even more convoluted as so many users actually use translators, so truly the web is world wide.

    One of the virtues I would like to believe I have mastered in this life is knowing when to add to a conversation, and what topics I would not touch with a ten foot pole. Sometimes you only have to ask what was meant to understand if you are being played as troll bait or if the statement did not quite come a crossed as meant. Listening is an art as much as understanding another persons point of view. I would agree that irony is a tough nut, it is one of the few times you have to be completely literal in a response, and that unfortunately can come a crossed harsh or judgmental depending on the irony.

    There was a time when a persons quality of professionalism was gauged directly in the way they conducted themselves in mixed social gatherings. Articulacy and understanding polite communication was the code of the day. One of the problems with todays mass communication is that so much of this has fallen to the wayside. Never forget that the astounding popularity of the web was claimed and molded by individuals to young to even have the basis of understanding the true meaning of what political correctness even meant. Throw in hours of solitary usage, it is no wonder that sub personalities for the internet proliferated. Eventually as they say, water will seek it's own level and this will balance itself, but till then OMG! WTH did she mean? IDK Jus sayin :confused:
     
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  9. Will Lawrence

    Will Lawrence Well-Known Member
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    So true... and so sad. Life is entirely too short to go through it taking offense to most everything you hear. Or... trying to find something negative about everybody and everything said in your presence. Politics and religion bring out the worst in people. People will argue until they make complete idiots of themselves... and change nothing but people's opinions of them.
    I have strong feelings about politics. Just because those are my opinions in no way makes other folks opinions wrong. That's what riles me about today's political debate... it is not debate. The far right or the far left, either one, will suggest it's their way or the highway. Why can't we sit down together and work out our differences without staging a food fight?

    The English language gives us so many opportunities to turn serious comments into jovial moments... if both conversationalists have a sense of humor. Those who take offense to most everything said should join our group on the golf course. They wouldn't make it past the first hole without blowing a gasket. We constantly harp and pick on each other and all take it and give it back. That's the way folks should get along with each other.
     
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  10. Amy Read

    Amy Read Active Member
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    I am just new in this forum and as I had read some of the threads and posts here all I can say is that I find this forum as a friendly community with non judgemental people..And as far as communication is concerned using emoticon and smiley is just okay. And I will always thought that I will have fun and will enjoy writing and reading every posts that I will read and at the same time to learn some insights from the life experiences that will be shared in this community.
     
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    Last edited: Jan 29, 2016
  11. Krissttina Isobe

    Krissttina Isobe Very Well-Known Member
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    The way I figure it is simple...life is too short to worry, attack or argue. Having a difference of opinions is what makes us unique. Communication is simple why make it complicating? :) The art of communication is easy when you like to discuss an issue without trying to change someone about a topic. We all have our opinions and can learn from each other for everyone knows something that I don't know. I feel forums and facebook is a place to share & discuss. I have hidden friends shares when I disagree with the post and say nothing. I don't know why some are confrontational either guess they always wake up on the wrong side of the bed.

    A wise gentleman once looked at me and said if you don't mind it won't matter. That stuck with me throughout life. Then again my Mom and I still argue, but not hate each other. She'll be 90 tomorrow! Just like the First Lady Michelle a January baby as is Betty White another Jan. baby. My how time flies it's almost Feb. and if I don't end here it's going to be March. :p I enjoy forums which is something new to me. Even if I'm a Senior Citizen I still got a lot to polish and learn. That's life I suppose. :)
     
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  12. Von Jones

    Von Jones Very Well-Known Member
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    Ken I liked what you said '...about not having the same definitions.' I have to ask my husband to explain himself when he uses a word differently than I would which only means - his definition is different from my own. Sometimes I even learn something from him - not - just kidding :rolleyes:. Seriously though, I'm glad that I can open up another tab and google words that are used and can get a better understanding of what a person means when communicating online. One word can have different meanings per Webster and Wikipedia.:D
     
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  13. Corie Henson

    Corie Henson Very Well-Known Member
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    A spoken language has the accent or stress plus the volume that gives emphasis. With a written statement, there is no emotion involved. So it is like comparing a drawing on plain paper against a 3D figure. My husband had a lot of experiences particularly in the local forums that he had previously joined. Misunderstandings arise from misinterpretation of posts and sometimes it would lead to a heated argument. So now, learning a lesson from that, being tame in forums is a good habit to avoid misunderstanding.
     
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  14. Holly Saunders

    Holly Saunders Veteran Member
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    That's precisely it Corie....I couldn't have explained that better myself, you have that summed up exactly..
     
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  15. Bonnie Thomas

    Bonnie Thomas Very Well-Known Member
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    Isn't that why they came to be ... :D ... can't get emotion without emoticons!!:p :)... our brains are strange..

    AND FUNNY TOO, HOW CAPITAL LETTERS BECAME A SHOUTING MATCH!!!

    And I agree with Corie about coming to a forum in a good frame of mind, and staying level.
    If it's an "off" day for whatever reason, I stay away.
     
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