Social Networking (But that’s NOT what I meant!)


home alone pic

Imagine if you will, posting a humor piece that is poorly received. So poorly received in fact that one woman actually posts something along the lines of calling you “an overstuffed pig who plays with puppets and can’t keep a day job.” How eager will you be in responding? Will you be nice enough to say “Give me three days to think about my response and I’ll get back to you?”

My head line should read “Smart man meets stupid redhead with a hot temper and behaves much better than she does.” I’ll be lucky if I hear from him in the next century much less in three days.

For better or for worse, the world wide web makes everything more readily accessible than ever before. That applies to great things, and not so great things. The web makes it easy for all of us to sit behind a screen and communicate things to a computer forgetting we’re talking to a person.

Every day I read words that I know the person would not use face to face. Some days I respond with words I’d never use in person. Some days I’m brutally harsh. The downside with writing, is tone cannot be conveyed. It takes a very talented writer to properly convey humor. And it takes self restraint to not ask the person where their head was when they wrote that story when the humor fails to be conveyed. While my self restraint is improving, I still have a lot of work to do. As is the case with a very talented comic whom I called a stuffed pig yesterday. He wrote (what I hope) is a humor piece only I didn’t get it.

I didn’t see the humor. I saw (read) a very degrading post against women – and it lit a fire in me that ensured 1 – he’ll never hire me to open for him and 2. I was not so sure I wanted to ever buy tickets to his show anymore. I should have sat on my “instinct” and said nothing. Really.

I allowed my emotions to rule my actions – I’m usually better than that.  I should have read it, remembered the guidelines for commenting (keep your comments productive or move on) and either moved on or simply stated “Wow, I don’t get this, would you please expound?”  Turns out it was a humor piece – but not having a personal relationship with said comic – I did not know that. I should not have called him anything.  That not the way to communicate “I don’t understand this.” Chances are, he’ll never speak to me again – and I deserve that.

In today’s world we can blog, twitter, digg, and stumble our way to fame (for better and for worse) and mediocrity in a heart beat. There is no such thing as a “private” email, e-zine, or blog post. We forget that as writers. Sometimes, self indulgent creatures that we are, we forget that while *I* know what I meant by this or that post, my reader may not. I need to choose my words carefully.

There are wonderful writers out there – and I do not pretend to be one of them. There are great blogs to read and to learn from – most of them are on my blog roll.

My whole point here is I forgot I was responding to a person – and that is never cool

Blogs and social networking are about relationships and two way communication. And with the “safety” of a computer screen, we sometimes write blogs we’d never speak out loud and sometimes we comment or email responses using words we’d (hopefully) never say otherwise.

Has that ever happened to you?

7 thoughts on “Social Networking (But that’s NOT what I meant!)

  1. Just a side note here, I can’t believe the number of hits this particular post has received since August. If you are just now finding this, please drop a comment and say hey and let me know your thoughts. Thanks!

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  2. Yeah – that was pretty much how he responded to me. Meaning, he was nice. Once I realized my mistake (not reading the link) I felt pretty stupid. What is life if you can’t make mistakes. He’s a nice guy –

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  3. Hi Deana,

    First of all great post! I totally agree with you on this subject. It isn’t what is said but how you react to it that is important. Yes it is easy to say something that can be misinterpreted online and as you say its often difficult to judge the tone.

    I try not to react full stop – it isn’t easy sometimes but it reminds me of a story where the situation was judged incorrectly if I can share it with you:

    A man was in a train with his two small children. the carraige was busy and his children where running around shouting and banging into peoples legs. The father was sat looking into space just letting the kids do what they wanted.

    One of the passengers became so annoyed with the situation that she prodded the father on the arm and said “can’t you control your children they are running wild”. He turned to her and said “I am so sorry, yes of course…they are a little confused and angry at the moment as we have just come from their mothers’ funeral”.

    So the situation was misjudged.

    I try my best not to judge anyone however angry they may be as you don’t know where they are coming from in their head – and may just need a little support or a kind word!

    P.S I love your blog layout too – very easy on the eye.

    Cheers
    Keith

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  4. Those are great thoughts – and yeah – I try to do something similar – write it out and wait. This particular instance was actually my third go at trying to comment and I reallly should have waited some more. I did at least apologize for my delivery – my meaning on the other hand – I thought those were horrible things for a man to write about women – and I’m not sorry for feeling that.

    Thanks for reading my blog – and for commenting – talk to you soon either on twitter or the blogosphere. Have a good one.

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  5. I think the anonymity of a computer screen allows us in our head to say things we would never get away with in person. We can chose to delete any further comments or emails from that person and hide behind the I never got it attitude. I know I have misread quotes or emails from friends, family and the general public. I too have to sit on my response before I hit the send button.

    One rule of thumb that I TRY to live by (but don’t always succeed…I have stuck my foot in my mouth more than once and had to go back and apologize) is to write it all out and then come back in an hour and re-read it. If it reads okay an hour later and I can read it without being angry, then I will send it. If not, delete it. At least you got it off your chance.

    Like I said, I don’t always live by this but I try.

    Thanks for the follow on Twitter.

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