This is a recovered post from a botched website transfer in 2014. It was originally written and published on 05/12/2013.
The daily prompt from WordPress’ The Daily Post today is entitled, It’s a Text, Text, Text, Text World. The prompt is this:
“How do you communicate differently online than in person, if at all? How do you communicate emotion and intent in a purely written medium?”
In email, in comments on blogs, on Facebook and Twitter, and even in blog posts, I make judicious use of emoticons – 🙁 😉 🙂 😀 – to be certain my point is made. In fact, I used to be a serial emoticonist.
Emoticonist: New word alert! 🙂
When I started getting more serious about my writing, and when I started getting more comfortable with the “real” me, I started to use emoticons with less frequency in those online social settings, because I wasn’t using them at all in my offline writing.
It didn’t occur to me that the emoticon deficiency would leave some people in my life feeling like they had to read between the lines.
When it comes to the pure written word, the writer is charged to imbue the tone they desire through word choice, sentence structure, and narrative or story. The reader is left – better: empowered – to imbue those words with their perspective.
That’s why, I believe, we can read a paragraph on a manic Monday, and have it mean one thing, and read that same paragraph on a sedate Sunday, and have it mean something completely different.
In person, I don’t have to worry about emoticons. Listeners have my inflection, facial expression, and body language to gauge true meaning.
My statement might be, “That’s funny,” and yet if my voice is flat, my jaw is tight, and my arms are crossed, there’s more than a good chance I don’t mean what I say.
There’s far less likelihood of misinterpretation in an in-person meeting than an online chat, exchanged texts, and even a telephone call. And yet if misinterpretation does happen based on the written word, it falls squarely on the reader and what they choose to read between the lines.
Do you agree? Are you an emoticonist? How do you get your meaning across online?