Wednesday, November 14, 2007

we are who we edit ourselves to be

In any form of communication with another person, whether that is in person over a cup of coffee, on the telephone, or through text, it is always possible that a person is misrepresenting themselves in whole or in part.

Meeting someone in person does not guarantee a higher degree of accurate information about that individual over what they might say or type about themselves, especially depending on the specific circumstances surrounding the communication itself.

In person, one does not have the opportunity to take back what was blurted. Things can just "get said" without the full ramifications being thoroughly thought through. Sometimes in the heat of the moment or following the general flow of the conversation, it is easy to flippantly toss off a remark, that upon further reflection is a flat out falsehood when it comes to how you really think. That doesn't mean the person was being deliberately misleading, just that they got carried away.

How many times as a child did you see your parents turn from shouting at each other or shouting at you to answer the phone with a cheery, "Hello!" and you're standing there wondering where the hell that came from? She wasn't all sunshine and smiles 3 seconds ago, why does that person rate a smile when she was just yelling her head off a bit ago? As an adult we realize that the person calling doesn't need to know of our bad day, and certainly doesn't deserve to get caught in the emotional fallout of normal everyday crankiness. Is the person lying when they answer the phone in that manner? Not exactly. More just responding to a new context in which shouting would be highly inappropriate.

If the context is an internet dating chat room, chances are not that good that people are interacting on a highly accurate basis. They are there looking for people to like them and presenting themselves in the most positive light possible, including flat out lying. "The internet: where the men are men, the women are women, and the little girls are FBI agents"~CrazyMan Bob.

However, on this blog, and the ones I visit, there is just no reason for the commenters to misrepresent their thoughts, feelings, insights, circumstances, or individual take on a situation. What would be the point? It is very much a voluntary community, one that is easy to withdraw from and if you don't feel you can be honest with those around you, what are you doing on that blog in the first place?

That is not to say that a particular post contains absolutely every possible piece of information that could be construed as being relevant to the situation. It just is not possible or desirable to include that level of detail in a post. So the writer essentializes and strips from the actual to present a snapshot of the situation with the details they feel are relevant to the discussion at hand.

For serious discussions and meaningful conversations, I would rather type than talk. Often during a verbal conversation, I get caught up listening to what the other person is saying without thinking about my own reactions to what they are talking about. Or worse, instead of listening to them I am busy trying to come up with something to say when it is my turn. Neither of which leads to much more than superficial conversations.

I enjoy writing and seeing my thoughts appear before me. Sometimes I look back on what I've written and nod in agreement, or shake my head in amusement at the things I've typed. I read and reread editing for style, content, accuracy and clarity. Do I really mean that? Does it convey my thoughts accurately or is it possible to misinterpret it to mean something different? Does the person reading have enough information to understand what I am saying?

But the most important thing, for me, about writing, is the necessary mental clarity that comes with actually formulating thoughts coherently enough to get them written down in semi-formal English capable of being understood by others. I learn more about myself by writing then I do in any other situation in my life.

Internet communication may not replace face-to-face interaction. But if the alternative to face-to-face interaction is nothing, then I will take text any day and revel in the ability to take my thoughts and refine them to be as clear and accurate as possible.

6 comments:

Richard said...

"But the most important thing, for me, about writing, is the necessary mental clarity that comes with actually formulating thoughts coherently enough to get them written down in semi-formal English capable of being understood by others. I learn more about myself by writing then I do in any other situation in my life."

The only decent reason for people to blog.

Fiery is why I am here. I've been to lots of blogs. It's Fiery's little community I like. I wonder how small a percentage of bloggers actually blog on the same honest basis.

Of course, I have nothing against bloggers who write on technical matters such as website marketing and so forth, but that niche is a different and narrower matter.

Fiery is facing her life as she experiences it. She is honest philosophy in action, she is epistemology developing, and she is morality wrestling, as the human world around her impinges on her principles and her hopes. She is a Good wrestling with a lot of "non-Good".

I wonder if, a thousand years from now, Mankind will look back on our culture and our World events, and view it as the preposterous contradiction it is. Man can control single atoms, can convert a nanotube (not much thicker than a cell membrane) into a radio receiver one can listen to, land on the moon, and create the Internet, while at the same time believing in mystical spirits called Gods. Absolutely bizarre.

Crazyman Bob said...

A silly little detail, but the quote I found on the net and use is:

"Welcome to the internet! Where the men are men, the women are men, and the little girls are FBI agents."

A subtle but, I think, funny difference. :-)

Book said...

First time blogger, long time listener (ha,ha)

I agree with Fiery's comments. There is so much noise and superficial interaction that occurs on a day to day basis that it is difficult to sort the wheat from the charf. I'm amazed at how many people, particulalrly in a professional environment, let slip endless verbal white lies, without a moments hesitation, in order to appeal to your better nature (or cover up thier own inadequacies).

Setting your thoughts down in words is in itself a vetting processing- even if only for use of the spell check.

How many of our day to day actions, thoughts or words (excluding typing) undergo such a vetting process? How much of our daily interactions are considered and rational? Rather than just a spurting out of the ideals and beliefs forced upon us in our childhood? Ideals which we have failed to grow independant of and step aside from..

Fiery said...

Book,
A very warm welcome to my blog!!!!! Made my whole morning to see you pop up from lurkdom and give a "Yeah! What she said!" along with terrific insight of your own.

I was particularly struck by,
"How much of our daily interactions are considered and rational? Rather than just a spurting out of the ideals and beliefs forced upon us in our childhood? Ideals which we have failed to grow independant of and step aside from.


I've often been shocked during a conversation when my mouth sometimes gets a bit ahead of my brain and I say something that I just don't mean. There aren't any social rules for saying, "hang on! I didn't mean that last bit, I don't know where that came from, delete that." I've done it on the odd occasion, but sometimes things just get left as said.

As for the way we were brought up, shaking the ingrained thoughts and habbits of our childhood takes some mighty hard work. It takes a lot of mental effort and a fair amount of time for the habbits to fade away.

Thank you for popping up Book! Hope to hear from you again!!!

Richard said...

This conversation reminds me of a popular (awful) book titled "All I
Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten
". "Learned", of course, means mindlessly absorbed, with no understanding of the rationality or implications of those lessons.

Sunday School epistemology six days a week! Public schools have the same motivation as church: spiritual and material control over the laymen; start them when they're young.

Thump Thump Eyes said...

I agree with you Fiery, if the alternative is nothing then I'm all for text.

I really enjoy the conversation here at your blog, its usually about something I find interesting and in the main the people here go to a lot of trouble to reply and I appreciate that effort because that to me is a big plus. It always keeps my interest and keeps me thinking about it long after I've left.

Unfortunately I mostly have no time to do lengthly replies although I try to put as much thought as I can into just a short reply, through which I want to show I'm there and interested.

You're a great writer Fiery, and this post was particularly good as was Starhawk's goodbye, and I must admit that I've thought about both yours and his for days now.....so thanks to you both for firstly making me think and secondly for being willing to reveal something of your personal thoughts that seem to me full of honesty and a genuine desire to communicate.