Sunday, June 22, 2008

Online forums

Yeah, I think I'm largely done with online forums.

I've had quite a spate of horrible experiences this last week. I've been told I'm a homophobe and that I attack people over theology (on two separate forums).

I'm a member of quite a number of forums and really enjoy talking to people online and finding out about other people who have the same interests as me but could potentially be on the other side of the world.

The big problem is that communication between people is 80% non-verbal. This means that anything I say online can be drastically misunderstood because you can't see me smiling and holding your arm gently in a display of genuine friendliness (I like touchy-feely conversations).

And I'm getting sick of being misunderstood. It seems like you need to either grow an incredibly thick skin and understand the differences between face-to-face communications vs online communications or just get out.

Complaining isn't really my scene. This post isn't a complaint. It's a vent. A comment on the intricacies of interpersonal relationships, if you will.

I'm unsure of the future of online communications. We operate in relationship with each other. The medium shapes our communication but I'd hate for it to interfere to such a large degree that we are unable to be mutually intelligible anymore.

Hmm.. it's an interesting social linguistic problem. Can the essence of communication be altered by its medium so that normal relational structures are transformed?

Grrr. Arggghh.


  1. Diane I know you probably feel crap about whatever has happened but remember this... just because someone somewhere has misunderstood what you've said and where you were coming from doesn't make your point of view any less valid. I have met a lot of narrow minded christians in my time but honey you're not one of them... cheer up!!

  2. Thanks so much Elizabeth - that's so encouraging. :) BB has never been a place where I've felt unwelcome. :)

  3. People are so slack on the web.

    They don't read properly. They don't write properly. They don't think thoroughly. And they certainly don't try to make up for the non-verbal stuff by choosing their words carefully. It's so much easier to say something bluntly (you'd be more polite in real life with near strangers!). So you often end up with an angry mess...

    Hope you don't take it to heart!

    My best friend and I are trying to communicate well on email, telephone. And even with very good intentions, it's hard going - lots of miscommunication.

    *Virtual hug* to be cashed in when we see each other face to face!

  4. Hey diane, stumbled across ur blog from facebook.

    I know what you mean, I have annoyed so many people with comments that havent been derogatory or generally smartass, but have been taken that way. Why? lack of non verbal comms.

    At least i dont feel like the only madman now.

  5. Yep that's just how it is exactly
    I love Americans but boy they just think differently to Brits

  6. GentleDove - interesting comment! I wasn't talking about Americans or Brits but it is pretty clear that people from different countries, even if we all speak English, think very, very differently!