Wednesday, September 5, 2012

lol ttyl

  So, I have come to the conclusion that the reason I am such a big fan of digital conversation is the exact same reason I hate it so much. (Digital conversation meaning, of course, anything you read after someone types it out and sends it to you, like texts, Facebook chats, emails, stuff like that.)
  That reason is that, in mediums like that, you can make sure you present yourself exactly the way you want to present yourself, no more, no less.
  It's no secret that I'm not the biggest fan of myself. (Well, that might be false, since I doubt anyone else likes me any more than I do.) I relish the opportunity that texting gives me to make sure that I don't say anything unintentionally stupid and offensive, which I do ALL too often in person.* I love the ability to have some tangible level of control over what people think of me. Sure, I should have that in person as well, but I'm so much better spoken and calm and collected in text. I need the opportunity to control my own image. (Which explains one of the many reasons I use correct grammar in text conversations. Some others outlined in Jason's essay grammer,. But I digress.)

  *I would like to note that I almost typed "in real life" instead of "in person", and the fact that there's such a clear yet subconscious distinction between digital conversation and "real life" in my mind has a lot to do with what I have to talk about.

  I have peers (and many members of the elder generation as well) who say they hate digital conversation because they think people are losing the ability to have a conversation. However, I actually think the exact opposite is true; I hate digital conversation because I think people are way too good at having a conversation nowadays. It's been elevated to the level of an artform of accepted norms and conventions and few who break from that. You might say, "Oh, that's just you and your general intellectual overthinking of everything," but I don't think so. Someone tells a joke, you "lol" because it's polite, whether the joke was funny or not.
  This problem extends further than digital conversation, though. It is related to something they call "The Social Contract" on House M.D. The Social Contract (as spoken of in House M.D., not the political philosophy concept) is an unspoken agreement between people that little white lies or polite phrasings of thoughts and ideas are okay in everyday conversation if it makes the other person feel better and doesn't cost anyone involved anything. The thing is, I think that when you treat someone you care about a way that you don't want to or that isn't sincere, you reduce them to something less than a friend. An acquaintance at best.
  I have recently begun noticing the lack of conversations in person I have with even some of my best friends, and I want to change that; I think the chance of screwing up and actually saying what you meant rather than what you're supposed to say has to be an ever-present danger for you to be able to be yourself, and if we can't be ourselves we can't ever really connect to the people around us, which it is important to do.

Recommended Viewing for a subject similar to this: My Dinner With Andre. The whole movie is one long dinner-table conversation between two friends, but it's very interesting if you're part of the thinking population, and the conclusion reached by the end is very relevant.

The building blocks of the deterioration of human relationships

- Adarsh Nednur

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1 comment:

  1. In the past few weeks, I've figured out some of the pitfalls of conversing online. Many times I would approach someone online, having only met them briefly in person, or not at all, and attempt to have an intellectual, and potentially "deep" conversation. I don't love small talk, you see.

    The problem with this is that it's too easy to overshare on the internet. Often I'll have the deep conversation with someone, and then be unable to really talk to them in real life because it just sort of makes everything awkward. Do you acknowledge the things you already said? Do you ignore them? If you learn everything about a person while online, it's hard to make conversation that creates rapport.

    (This might be my own personal problem though, lol.)

    Also related is the following article: How to find true friends (or love) in 45 minutes. It describes a study where strangers came together and asked each other increasingly personal questions. By the end of it, they said they felt "very close" to these persons they just met. I thought it was interesting.