Sunday, March 8, 2009

Emoticons Mean Something is Wrong


What have we become when we must take the time to draw little faces using punctuation marks instead of searching for the correct words to convey our meaning and intent? What does it say about us when we must use abbreviations to describe a response, instead of telling someone that we are delighted or amused by what they have just said to us?

I am thinking about the way we communicate today.

This weekend, I was reminded of how lovely it is to just discover someone while looking into their eyes, watching how the planes of their face change as they smile, and hearing their intonations and inflections as they reveal themselves through anecdotes and factual information. People only truly reveal themselves when they are face-to-face.

Email has replaced putting our hands to paper, and has replaced receiving actual letters that we can hold on to and cherish, or reflect upon later. Text messages have replaced phone calls. Facebook allows us to post as much or as little about ourselves as we like in the public domain. This blog has mostly replaced my journal, which I write in much less frequently.

Where is the romance in communication in our modern age?

You can flirt with email. You can send songs, and lyrics, and poetry. It is a new serenade I suppose. You can take photos of the world as you see it with your iphone, and instantly email these to whomever you are trying to woo. You can lay your heart out in Yahoo, and click send, offering up slices of your soul that may just find their way into someone's junk mail. You can create a profile of yourself on internet dating sites with carefully selected words, and photos, hoping that someone might fall just a little bit in love with you this way. Text messaging can become the new love note in your lunch box, or a prelude to a romantic liason.

Since just before December, I had been emailing someone I have never met in real life. He discovered me on an online dating site. (I have since deleted my profile, but that's another story for another time.) Our exchange has been fascinating, as we are both writers, and are both very comfortable expressing ourselves through our words. I'm now fairly certain that we will never meet in person, and part of me is very sad about that. Rather than dwell on the negative, I'm choosing to be grateful for what I consider to be an incredible kick-start to my writing. My letters were a direct link from my heart to paper, which brought my writing to a deeper level than what exists even here, in Schnooville. Because of this, I think I had developed some unrealistic expectations, but I'm mostly at peace with this now. Sometimes people just want to dip their toes into your soul. Getting their heads wet is not for everyone.

What is important here is the knowledge that real, true connection must happen in the physical world to be complete. This is what I need. My world has changed in this last year. I used to be able to speak about feelings and ideas. Now I am more comfortable to write about them. This is mostly true in a romantic context. Fortunately, I am still able to verbally communicate with my friends.

What would be wonderful, I think, would be to be able to look into a new set of eyes and say out loud some of the things in my heart. What would be wonderful, I think, would be for them to continue to look at me as they ask me to elabourate, and then tell me what is in their own heart. What would be wonderful, most wonderful, would be understanding and appreciation.

1 comment:

Ryan said...

Here's what I have to say about your tirade against emoticons:

:|