Thursday, August 20, 2009

An Apology, Where Applicable

The chats, and messengers, should burn in hell I feel at times, and cannot help but thank the stars for them at others. While they are a great and inexpensive way to connect and stay in touch, they can lead to misunderstandings and mis-communications of epic proportions. An necessary evil you say? And I definitely agree.

The written word actually leaves a lot to interpretation. It is atleast a good fifty percent less than just talking, even if on the phone, where the voice is audible, with all its nuances. More than half of our interactions is more than just words, it is the tone, the expressions, the punctuations, all of which is simply unavailable when it is the typed written word. Facial expressions and body language obviously do not exist. So in a chat if I type 'You fool!', it maybe interpreted in a million ways, rudeness, bluntness, or even being mean, while it may have been said in the most jovial way possible, the reader will never know with surety. I have become a bit scared of chats and e-mails now, and feel the need to clarify every word I write for the fear of misinterpretation. And there can be so many, especially when interacting with someone I have never met, who does not know how I talk and I don't know about her. With so many blog friends, I am never sure when and where I am getting off on the wrong foot. It can be more tedious than fun. Sometimes things just click and fall in place, at others they just go bad, with faux pass after faux pass.

I write whatever nonsense comes to mind, and often enough there are typos, syntactical errors and more so,while chatting. I type in haste and make a mess of it. Fortunately though my friends are kind and understand what I am saying, or they just prefer to not hurt my sentiments by telling me I need to concentrate on what I type. And honestly I cannot because, I am never really just sitting and chatting, I am either cooking or cleaning, or playing with the BB or doing something else alongside. Sometime I am standing, carrying the BB and typing, so it goes real bad. Mails are often dashed off in a rush, again no spell checks or proof reading, nothing. I really feel bad for the people who end up reading my garbled messages and actually manage to make sense of it. Sometimes it is so tough for me to leave an interesting conversation and head back to chores, and I often don't leave till the absolute last minute. I am usually casual about things, not attempting perfection, so there are more errors than required. The goofiness is always there too, goes without saying. All in all not a great combination, when communicating with someone through words alone.

Internet is such an indispensible part of our lives now, its an addiction and more, every little thing comes to mind, and I am off to look it up or write it down or whatever. The laptop is always onconnected, and I am always online. So are some others, but most of us are not really on the machine all the time, but on and off, running to and from the computer. Some are more disciplined, and do I admire them for that. They get online only when they are really and truly free, and enjoy the experience. Me on the other hand am almost always there, but never really available. And I feel really bad when I cannot talk to a person even though I am 'online' so to speak. It happened yesterday, with a blogger whom I really like, and who is hardly ever online. I had to rush off to my chores. I so hated doing it, but with all the time zone differences, the free times, just never ever coincide. And I was so afraid that I may have offended her. Then there is another, who was very friendly, poured her heart out to me and then suddenly stopped communicating, got busy I am guessing, but I cannot be sure, whether something upset her or its just lack of time. Electronic communication can get to hugely confusing and frustrating for such reasons, that I cannot term it anything but the devil then.

Besides that ofcourse there are comprehension issues, what if I mean something, and it is interpreted completely differently by the reader. And it happens so often, that I don't even get it anymore. Are there any rules to follow while chatting, any etiquette guides? If they are I am sure, don't multi-task must be one of them. And yet like with every other thing in life, I cannot only chat, except maybe the times I am online late into the night, with the rest of the family asleep. The blog friends, are friends, mainly through chats, I have not met any of them, and spoken to only a couple over the phone, but they are friends, and ones close to my heart. Its quite difficult to not communicate with them, the only way I do. And yet there is always the fear of being misread.

Do you ever feel this way? Have you ever had a communication issue on a chat? Need to know I am not the only one.
To anyone I might have offended without meaning to, over chats or mails, the title is for you, please accept my apologies, its the medium that is the issue, not the words that were exchanged.


Solilo said...

GM/PG, I rarely chat so I have not come across such problems too much but I still know what you mean because there is this one incident that happened couple of years ago when I was working and once my MSN was ON when I was not really at the seat, a friend buzzed and of course I didn’t reply because I wasn’t there. I came back from a meeting and switched off without even checking any pings/messages. The next time I met this friend with a swollen face and I just couldn’t comprehend the real reason. It took sometime for her to open up and then I had to explain. It was a silly misinterpretation where words were not even written.

Actually tone is very important and I hate it when people take liberty at the first go. I need some time to be pally with a person and only with time I become comfortable. Even in blogging world sometimes it irks me when random people try to be funny like the ones to whom I am close. I don’t appreciate that and simply ignore. May be I appear as a snob but that is how I am.

This is a good post, GM. I am sure your friends with whom you chat regularly will keep it in mind next time.

Smitha said...

GM ,¥ou are such a sweetheart! I can't imagine anybody taking offense at something like that. Am sure all of us go through the same and understand when one of us have to leave chat sessions ..

Am sure they must be busy with something... Sometimes I do wonder I appear rude on chats and emails because I multitask all the time :(

Take care and hugs!!!

Mystic Margarita said...

You are always worrying if you've hurt somebody, aren't you? It's so like you, IG! :) Let me categorically state that you've never ever offended me in any way. And see, I came out of hibernation and lurking phase to tell you this :)

Anonymous said...

I don't chat online at all. Maybe once in a while with a good friend and I don't really have to bother much then. But yeah written words can leave lots for interpretation

Passionate Goof said...

Solilo - OMG! Exactly the kind of thing I am talking about. And anyone would feel hurt after that, is it not. I know I would feel bad if I were the one pinging, and then there is such confusion about whether its a genuine reason, or the person is trying to avoid you and such like is it not? Good that it got all cleared up between you and your friend.

Smitha - Exactly my worry. :) Its such all so confusing with chats and mails, I tell ya!!

Mystic - Yay! I brought you out. :) Yes actually, I am hyper sensitive, and fortunately not just about myself, so I am constantly worrying if I have upset someone. :P And thanks for the reassurance, you are a sweetheart.

'A' - Yes, they do!

Reflections said...

u r right...infact I've had tht experience many a time....the written words do not adequately convey wht we want to say.

Then again I feel if they r really good friends they'll understand.

And I must say tht u have explained it really well in ur post here:-).

mindspace said...

In my opinion, People you consider close enough as friends would understand how you communicate. How can someone get offended and stop communicating when you put so much thought into each word u say/write? and I am saying out of experience :)you are always so careful not to let any of what you say be perceived the wrong way..

So dont worry and relax, is all i would say.. maybe the other person is also into multitasking or just plain busy into something or whatever!!.. n if still worried, go ask them directly to get things clarified..

Do I make sense?

Anonymous said...

You know , when I am chatting with someone for the first time, I typed something and delete and then retype because I dont know whether I said will come through the way I want to.. I have done this a quite a few times..because I dont want to offend the other person.

But with a friend, one can always be herself and expect the other to understand, its when one is a new friend, that one starts worrying :)

PSS:I never get offended by anything..FYI unless you ask whethey they are all mine.. :)

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Same pinch GP. I'm always worried whether my comments or words have hurt somebody, which is why I am extra careful when typing my words.

And for the record, you've been nothing but lovely to me...through blog comments, chats and e-mails.

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Oh! And I hope I've never offended you with my words either. I apologise if I have...

D said...

You already know how I feel about this. Yes, it's fairly easy to misinterpet a conversation on email or chat especially when you don't know the person. Remember, my entire post was misinterpreted because someone chose to(?)!

Like any relationship, a relationship on the internet demands time, committment and understanding. And if there's so much time being spent only in clarifications, is it worth it?

On the other hand, don't worry so much. You've never been anything but polite. And if you speak your mind, it's okay. That's who you are.

Sraboney said...

Don't worry about such things - there are enough worries in life, don't add another one...

Like Mystic, I would like to reassure you that you have never offended me...

Passionate Goof said...

Reflections - You are back? Indeed teh good friends do, but how good is a friend who you have never met in person, the chances of misunderstanding are high isn't it?

Mindspace- HUGSSSSSSSSSSS! Thanks sweetu. The fact is I have become overly careful after a couple of incidences, and hence am always clarifying!

Asaaan - I so understand you, but I am too sloppy to take the effort, and keep explaining later instead!:( Its good to know you are that cool.

M4 - Thanks, and no, I have never felt bad about anything you have said, you are extremely sweet and honest. :)

D - Yes I do, lets not even think of that mess again. If anyone had taken my heartfelt post and made such a mess of it, i might not have been as graceful as you. Exactly the commitment is needed, but i find it so tough to let go of an opportunity to connect with someone. Quite greedy that way. thanks for the reassurance.

Bones - I agree. And thanks so much for saying that!

Piper .. said...

Hey Goof, I hope you`ve not interpreted my long absence on chat or zero emails to be a sign that I`m offended or something. You`re one of the sweetest persons I`ve known and let me assure you that you have never offended me in any way.
The reason I`m no longer at the coffee shop on Mondays and Thursdays is because I have been crazily busy with a whole bunch of things. Foremost being the fact that the inlwas leave in a week(yeahhhhhh!!!!) and they have been dragging me around all over town for shopping. That`s the reason there`s been no emails or chats. BUt I shall be back and soon.
Dont apologize for something you`ve not done,Goof. Knowing you, you wouldnt even hurt a fly. And all intelligent people realize that :):) now cheer up :):) hugs.

mummyjaan said...

Perhaps because I don't chat much, I read this post with a good deal of amazement.

If you think that you may have offended someone through typing/not typing some words, and you're not even sure about it, is it an important enough issue to apologize for? particularly when you haven't really done anything clearly wrong? (Isn't that called bending backwards, btw?)

And if some nitwit misinterprets that, is the said twit worth your time? (or this detailed blog post?)

Passionate Goof said...

Piper - No re, not at all. I am well aware of your constraints. I will not hurt a fly... ummm... mostly not because i cannot, rather than because I don't want to. I am evil too you see. ;)

Mummyjaan - Its not about one particular person, but a general issue I keep facing time and again. And yes, if I am investing myself in a relationship, I will give it all, else I would not start, that is the only way it works for me, I cannot do a halfway thing!!

Reflections said...

Aaah yes there u've got a point;-D