Monday, April 8, 2013

What are words for...

If you don't get the title you need to listen to more eighties music. That or I listen to too much.

I'm sorry I haven't posted anything in a while. I have projects in the works, projects I'm excited about. Most of them are all unfinished but if you want to see one that I've actually finished you can check it out here. I've been spending a lot of time over at Instructables recently. I've been posting some different projects that I've done, as well as just interacting with the community there and responding to interest in the leather top hat that I made. I promise I'll reveal some more of my current projects soon. Until then I have some thoughts on words that I felt like sharing.

Words? Yes, words. Maybe that's putting it too simply though. When I say words what I mean is the transmission of ideas. There are people who make the argument that the idea is more important than how it's shared. With this I can't necessarily argue, but what I dislike is the thought that the idea is the only thing that matters. The thought tends to become, "I don't have to worry about the way I convey my idea because it's so good that everyone should understand it. I want to share some pitfalls that I believe accompany this thinking.

1. Spelling, punctuation, and grammar are important. I'm not saying they always have to be perfect; just that they're important. I can't count how many times I've read something and literally had trouble understanding the point being made because of all the errors. As many Internet memes have pointed out, a misplaced comma can make all the difference in a sentence. If you want your point understood why not make sure it is? I know not everyone did well in English class. I'm not asking for perfection; just effort.

Addendum: Numbers and letters used to represent entire words are included as bad spelling. Stop that.

2. Clearly thought out sentences are crucial. You have time to think out what you want to say, especially when you are communicating on the Internet. Take a second. Read over what you just typed before hitting send. Does it make sense? Try to read it without all the inflection you automatically use. No one else can hear that. Does it still make sense?

3. When trying to make a point keep your emotions out of it. No joke. Everything sounds more emotional on the Internet, especially when the reader is emotional too. If you write everything with a lot of emotion, it will sound practically furious to the other person. If what you're saying could be controversial or inflammatory, think of how you would feel reading something like that. People tend to react defensively and either clam up or counter attack.

4. People sometimes communicate on different wavelengths. Just because someone doesn't initially agree with, or understand, what you're saying doesn't mean you should shout them down until they submit to your way of thinking or go away. Sometimes an idea needs discussion to help flesh it out. Often people have different perspectives, or even different preconceptions of certain words and common ground has to be found to obtain understanding.

To me it all boils down to the fact that if your idea merits consideration by others than it should also merit consideration by you. There are a lot if things I think of hastily that I don't end up typing out, and there are a lot of things that I hastily hit send on that make me cringe later. "Why did I say that?" "Wow I can't believe I was that mean." "I'm not even sure what I meant there." "Ooh I should have thought that point out a little more because that's not exactly what I meant."

The more we think about the ideas we want to share, and how to adequately share them, the more we think through those ideas. The longer we wait to share those ideas the more time we have to perfect them as well as the method with which we share them. Really, if the idea or thought is so good in the first place doesn't it deserve due consideration before it's shared? And if the thought or idea doesn't merit that much consideration by the original thinker it certainly doesn't deserve much consideration from the hearers.

We've turned into this society that just throws words out there without much thought. Probably because if we get too invested in them and no one else gets it or cares we feel crushed. So instead, everything we say is like trite little status updates. We just throw it out there and if no one says anything we throw some other meaningless thought out until finally there's a small explosion of comments. Only they're usually all just, "awesome" "that's so true" "you're totally right". We get our validation fix and we move on. If it's anything we really believe in we state it emphatically in the hopes that no one will dare oppose our thought, and if they do we get defensive as if our entire identity is wrapped up in whether or not someone else agrees with us. Well I'm tired of that and I hope some other people are too.

So, here's to sharing thoughts and ideas. Here's to giving our own words at least as much consideration as we expect from others. Here's to actually being invested in what we have to say.

Maybe next week I'll talk about listening?