I’m very glad to have English as my mother tongue; I think it’s one of the most versatile, diverse and exciting languages in the world. I love using puns and double entendres, using needlessly flouncy words and just generally playing with words and meaning. Speaking a couple of other languages also gives me an added appreciation of linguistics and the need to be articulate and precise in the way I communicate. Recently, I’ve been finding it very interesting the way that the rise of digital communication is affecting all of this.
I’ve had a few situations recently where I’ve been involved in some degree of misunderstanding – all of these have been through digital mediums such as texting or online chat, and I think that if I’d been talking in person none of this would have happened. Usually I think of myself as being quite an articulate person, but saying something in the flesh means you can also rely on body language, intonation and your reading of that person.
We’ve now embraced technology as our main way of communicating with people – whether it be those at work, our close friends, family or some stranger on Twitter. I think that this familiarity has made us a little too comfortable with the idea that this is the best way to get across whatever we’re thinking/feeling at that moment, often forgetting the limitations of texting or emailing. Even now I’m surprised by the amount of people who post ridiculous passive-agressive Facebook statuses or don’t punctuate their text messages – if you’re going to be so reliant on these methods for talking to people who matter then surely you should put a bit more thought in to it?
I’m now rethinking the way I share information with people, especially my friends, as I’m getting more conscious of things coming across in the wrong way and having a potentially long-lasting effect. Things that were intended as a joke being taken more seriously or what would usually be flippant and meaningless remark suddenly takes on much more gravitas once it’s committed to text. What would be a moment on the lips is a lifetime in script.