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?