This piece made me think of the ways we try to inflict tone and intent in our “instant” messaging. As we continue to shorten and abbreviate our communications for no other purpose than brevity, we reach to images through emojis and gifs to indicate queues for our inflection and intent of our messaging. We try to move away from direct interpersonal communication but find ourselves trying to replicate it in other ways. This goes to your point:
We simultaneously try to communicate and create in age-old ways through media that we try to pretend does not exist.
When I find myself using these tools myself (emojis etc.) I always have a brief moment where I wish I were talking to the person face to face; THAT would save me more time than trying to explain a complicated, nuanced communication. We all seem to be pulling back from a direct conversation in order, I think, to have a filtered conversation. One we can edit, and examine and assess before delivering it. Have you ever been texting with someone and you see that little ellipsis on your screen indicating they’re typing and then you don’t get anything.
It’s always disconcerting to me. I always think, “what? What did you want to say? I can take it! Tell me,” while in truth they probably just got interrupted in their texting and had to stop. It’s interesting that my first thought is, “they’re self-editing.” Why do I think that, because that’s what I do? Yes, I always reread and edit my texts and social media posts. I second guess my audiences interpenetration of my remarks because I want to be certain I’m understood and not taken out of context. It can be exhausting.
As our communication becomes more and more of a visual medium rather that a rhetorical one, we are losing the nuances of what it means to be human. We filter our responses and second guess ourselves. Lost are the subtle intent of voice inflection, eye movement, and body language. I worry that we may lose our ability to respond in an instinctual way because we agonize over the possible scrutiny from of a wider audience with every remark.
Nowadays our thoughts and daily opinions can be archived and reassessed at any given point in time and used to define who we are, instead of perhaps who we have become or hope to be. I remember as a kid saying, “Oh, I wish I could have recorded you saying that!” so I could prove my point. Now, we have that ability, and it’s terrifying. It’s terrifying to consider that one slight, or bad judgment will be thrown back at you for the rest of your life no matter what the context. That is where we are; free flowing thought thoughtful discussion of ideas has become a luxury.