Social Media, Words, Writing

Miscommunication, the bane of social media! Or is it just me?

Miscommunication is key to the plot in my novel in progress, so I’ve been thinking about the ways we misconstrue the words and actions of those in our lives. Of course, that led to remembering how often I’ve failed in my online communications.

It didn’t take long after I started using email, to discover that lack of aural and visual clues leads to easy misinterpretation of words. The Geeks were ahead of me, of course, and had developed netspeak [LOL] and then emoticons [:-)] as a substitute, but often I neglected to use them and what I wrote in jest or sarcasm was taken seriously.

Unfortunately, I tend to forget that those I communicate with in social media don’t know me. And so, even if I don’t LOL or :-), I assume they’ll know when I’m joking. They’ll know I would never deliberately hurt their feelings. They’ll understand that I often speak before I’ve thought something through and give me the benefit of the doubt. It doesn’t work that way.

And I always forget that it doesn’t work that way.

In my short career in the online writing world, I have inadvertently insulted a NYTimes bestselling author by email and a literary Super Agent by blog comment; I’ve incited arguments where I never meant to; and I’ve annoyed, exasperated, and exhausted people with my incessant—and sometimes blatant—questions.

I’m sure the Internet police have a warrant out for me.

What about you? Do have this online communication thing down pat, or do you sometimes flub it up too?

26 thoughts on “Miscommunication, the bane of social media! Or is it just me?”

  1. Internet communication is made difficult in part due to the lack of nonverbal cues that we rely upon in face to face communication, or even on the phone. This leads to conflict when one or more parties misunderstands intended meaning of the communicator. In other words, it comes with the territory! 🙂 And then, of course, on the internet there are those who go looking for a fight under every rock.Those people you can’t avoid conflict with no matter how many communication richness strategies you employ. So, long story short, I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to ever get it down pat…there are just too many things that can go wrong with any given communication event. 😉


  2. Linda, I think the more condensed our communication becomes, the easier it is to misinterpret. I tend to use too many emoticons and exclamation marks, I think, which might be just as irritating as a misinterpreted tone 🙂 Who knows.


  3. Chuckles! I offended a radio host with my tweeting humor! He sent me a private message taking offense to my words. In the end I apologized – I never intended my humor to come across as snark. It was a good lesson in managing my online tone 😉


  4. I’ve been online for so long, all the litttle quirks like lol and 🙂 and so many more come naturally now. The one thing that irritates me to no end ARE THE PEOPLE WHO WRITE IN CAPS…


    P.S I ain’t politically correct in real life, and I refuse to be on the internet. You’ll find the English a little bit more sweary too lol.


    1. You bring up another point, Alannah. The Internet is global, so what’s PC in one culture, might not be in another, so there’s no way you could avoid being misunderstood by someone somewhere. I guess I just have to live with that.


  5. Aboslutely !! I was nodding at you with every sentence.

    But I also have to agree with CanaryTheFirst’s words – ‘I find written communication much much easier. After I’ve written an email, I can reread it and tweak what needs to be tweaked to create the best impression I can. With person-to-person, it’s only after a train-wreck of an interview or a particularly bad where-is-our-relationship-going conversation that I find myself going over and over what I should have said instead.’

    This is true for me because I have bad verbal vocabulary skills combined with zilch presence of mind especially in pressure situations; whereas I am an excellent editor and can, re-tweak, re-re-tweak to write the best email or comment or a text and still convey my message!


    1. “Zilch presence of mind especially in pressure situations” describes me exactly, Thinker. I’ve always communicated better through writing. In fact, one of my sons said to me once, “You just can’t think unless you’re writing, can you?” 🙂 So, to have my writing misunderstood is a real blow.


      1. Ditto – ‘I’ve always communicated better through writing.’
        If only I could process my thoughts as much before mouthing them, my life would be so much saner.

        What dcow92’s father says below touches a nerve in me, as I sit here on my computer talking to you while ignoring my son.. sigh!

        Proper perspective, can I get it in a can from somewhere?


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