Thinking Out Loud

August 1, 2017

The World of Online Discussion: An Apology

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:55 am

Missing the Point

The article resonated with me from the moment I saw the headline. It also reminded me of something else, a parallelism to the stated subject worth mentioning. Furthermore, I also had a source I could quote that would certainly make an impression.

So I left the comment.

Not even twelve hours later, I’m looking at the comments which followed mine and realized something: I had completely missed the main point of the original post. I had wandered into the land of the tangents.

The author of the blog is an author, an academic, a theologian. I tracked down his email address through the school where he was teaching at the time. I told him that I sincerely believed I had something to contribute to the discussion but now realized my comment simply didn’t belong and humbly asked him to please delete it.

Which thankfully he did…

The word nuance applies in more locations and situations than we realize. It’s possible to see the surface of something but not really grasp what’s going on. Like Asperger’s kids we can miss the sarcasm. Or perhaps we simply didn’t hear the latest development in an ongoing story and aren’t getting all the references.

On the surface of it, I can be a surface person. One girl described me as shallow. (She lost any chance of a date at that point.) But I also love to go deep. My other blog’s tag line is, “Digging a little deeper.” I love double entendre. I love it when someone writes a word or phrase which is a homage to an obscure book or song or movie. (I was going to write an homage, but it seemed pretentious.)

But there is a time to be Captain Obvious as well.

One of my constant criticisms of my wife’s social media posts is that they’re too cryptic. I get what she means because I was there when it happened, but others might not. I am constantly telling her to, “Put the cookies on the lower shelf.”

But then I will do the same thing, only I justify it in my case because I’m making concessions to certain readers or followers who are in on the thing vaguely cited.

In other words, when I do it it’s right and when she does it it’s wrong…

I’d like to think the theology professor appreciated my candor in requesting the comment’s deletion. It was a reminder that some things, while they may not be above your pay grade, are above your realm of experience and education.




January 2, 2014

The Internet Has Its Own Language

Filed under: blogging, internet, technology — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:11 am

Yesterday I was re-reading the book Eats, Shoots and Leaves, a 2003 book by Lynne Truss about the effects of punctuation on grammar and communication.  A few sections caught my eye:

Electronic media are intrinsically ephemeral, are open to perpetual revision, and work quite strenuously against any sort of historical perception.  The opposite of edited, the material on the internet is unmediated, except by the technology itself.  And having no price, it has questionable value.   (pp 181-2)

What to call the language generated by this new form of communication?  Netspeak?  Weblish?  Whatever you call it, linguists are generally excited by it.  Naomi Baron has called Netspeak an “emerging language centaur – part speech, part writing” and David Crystal says computer-mediated language is a genuine “third medium”.  But I don’t know.  Remember that thing Truman Capote said years ago about Jack Kerouac:  “That’s not writing, it’s typing”? 

I keep thinking that what we do now, with this medium of instant delivery, isn’t writing, and doesn’t even qualify as typing either: it’s just sending.  What did you do today?  Sent a lot of stuff. “Don’t forget to send, dear.”  Receiving, sending and arithmetic – we can say goodbye to the three R’s, clearly.   Where valuable office hours used to be lost to people schmoozing at the water cooler, they are now sacrificed to people publishing second-hand jokes to every person in their email address book.  We send pictures, videos, web addresses, homilies, petitions and (of course) hoax virus alerts, which we later have to apologize for.  The medium and the message have never been so strongly identified. 

As for our writing personally to each other, how often do you hear people complain that emails subtract the tone of voice; that it’s hard to tell if someone is joking or not?  Clicking on “send” has its limitations as a system of subtle communication.  Which is why, of course, people use so many dashes and italics and capitals (“I AM joking!”) to compensate.  That’s why they came up with the emoticon, too – the emoticon being the greatest (or most desperate, depending on how you look at it) advance in punctuation since the question mark in the reign of Charlemagne.  (p. 191-2)

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