My day started and ended with email.
The first notable piece was from Patrick, someone I have never encountered before, who seemed to think my fan page for the Grim Faeries was the official site and that writing me would somehow put him in touch with the band. It could have been an honest mistake and I would not have cared. His manner, however, was ... let us say unpleasant. Not having any clue who the fellow was, I certainly was not going to forward the piece to the band. I sent him a terse reply. He sent me a near apology and then butchered it by assuming I should now forward his email. I sent him another terse reply and his lip continued. However it did become clear he somehow thought he had found my address from the official site, not that he thought my site was the official one.
The second piece of note was fan mail. I had just written a couple long pieces to one of the mailing lists I am on. I have been quite tired today and when replies started to trickle in to my first post I was afraid in my fatigue I was not able to communicate my point. Eventually I received two replies, one on the list and one privately, that assured me my points were made. In cases like these I find it is the private replies that touch me most. It is somehow more personal.
I think interaction through the Internet holds a wealth of knowledge on human interaction. Writing as a form of communication is not a new idea by any means, but writing as a form of instant communication is now at a hereto-unknown level. When we speak to someone face-to-face we communicate on many levels, the obvious ones being what is said, tonal qualities in the speech, and body language. Speaking over the phone removes the body language, and I have seen enough misunderstandings just with that. Writing removes the subtext conveyed through the voice. Before such things as email, composing a letter took some time. Sending a letter took time. Time gives chance for thought. Now it is so simple to click "reply," type a few lines - I know I can type faster than I can write - and then hit "send." So much of the time in which thought can process has been removed. It is so simple to write a gut reaction based on a misunderstand leading into a domino path of miscommunication. In a sense the Internet becomes like one big game of Telephone - you have probably played it: one person whispers a phrase to a person beside them, and that person whispers it to the next eventually ending with message that often bears no resemblance to the original.
Instant messaging is indeed a double edged sword.
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