OK, and the Tale of Cognitive Dissonance
Can You Relate?
I have an affliction that I suspect many folks from my generation can relate to. It’s not painful, contagious or dangerous to my health. I have to admit, though, that It does slow me down a bit. I never realized what a problem I was harboring, or the potential for hurt feelings and worse.
I absolutely, positively cannot email, text, or Snapchat without including the proper punctuation! That includes periods, commas, and appropriate capitalization. Goodness knows I’ve tried. I’ve thumb-typed my message sans punctuation with the intention of hitting the send button. But, at the last moment, I freeze.
A voice in my head that represents a curious amalgam of English teachers from the distant past begins to shame and chastise me. With no other course of action, I dutifully return to the message and make the necessary corrections.
I Didn't Realize
I never realized this behavior could be the messenger of erroneous meanings; just the opposite of what I intended.
I taught high school up until this past school year. I’m also raising a 14 year old grandson. The inclination of these kids, and younger adults as well, is to see people much older than themselves as dinosaurs.
In an effort to appear as something of a hip dinosaur, I’ve resorted to communicating with my grandson through Snapchat. I achieved the desired effect with my students. They always want to know teachers are using the latest cool stuff. I wasn’t so successful with my grandson.
The Plot Thickens
While driving him to the mall to take advantage of the latest sale at Dick’s, I was stunned by the question that he blurted out. “Grandma, why are you so angry?”
Where did that come from?
We were having an agreeable conversation about nothing in particular when he blind-sided me with that one.
I’ll save you all the question and answer sleuthing I had to do to get to the bottom of his question.
The upshot is, it seems that when Snapchatting him, instead of typing the word okay, I type OK.
Can you guess where this is going?
He had recently become aware that when you type in all upper case letters, it’s read as angry shouting.
No! I’m just using grammatically appropriate English.
Nope! To a 14-year old, technologically savvy kid, I was shouting. And, ANGRY!
There's A Lesson Here
It brought home a useful lesson. Perspective is everything. At least in this case it was.
When we’re blogging on the internet, no matter where in the world we are physically located, we are blogging world-wide.
That’s a recipe for lots of misunderstandings. Lots of hurt feelings. Lots of cognitive dissonance.
My take away for all of this is that if we’re writing a blog, we need to be as sensitive as our experiences will allow. Take a moment, reread what you’ve written, and consider how others will take what you’re saying. We are trying to build a following here.
If you’re reading a blog, and something doesn’t sit right with you, take a minute and realize that it's probably a simple misunderstanding between cultures.
Cultures like the one which created a person who remembers when telegrams and landline phones were the only non-face to face ways to communicate, and someone from the culture who can’t remember a time before cell phones, Snapchat and Twitter.
Let’s work on giving each other the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you can get rid of a little cognitive dissonance at the same time!