Thursday, April 23, 2009

Song du Jour: "White Flag" by Dido

I promise I'm not trying to make your life harder.

I cause nothing but trouble...
you live by the rules...

And when we meet
I'm sure we will
All that was there
Will be there still...

...I'm in love and always will be.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Why IM is an IMperfect Medium of Communication!

I had a conversation with a friend in SL in IM Monday night that went badly. We were both tired--exhausted from long hard work days. We both wanted to at least say hello, but we were both also ready to drop and wanted to go to bed instead of into SL. Instead of a nice chat, we both left felling frustrated for different reasons, each thinking the other was being hostile. The conversation began like this:
me: I was just waiting for you to say I'm sorry
him: what?
me: sorry I can't play tonight
him: oh sorry I can't play tonight

And here's the confusion. He heard me ask him for an apology from him for not being able to play and gave it, but it made him upset that I was angry. I was offering an apology for not being able to play and I thought that he was echoing my words to show that he had understood and accepted.

The basic limitations of SL chat or any IMing for that matter are in the lack of emotion that is conveyed. We add emoticons or acronyms (LOL, IMHO, etc) to compensate for that. But the thing that really clarifies for a reader what the writer is saying, where the intensity and the inflection goes, is punctuation and full sentences. Not only do we avoid excessive punctuation in IMs, but we also pare our words down. This makes for fast communication, but it also makes things we say able to be read in multiple ways.

What I said was really supposed to be:
"I was just waiting for you [to arrive], to say [to you that] I'm sorry. [What I am] sorry [about is that] I can't play tonight." (Subtext: I am really missing you and want to play but am too tired, please forgive me.)

What he heard was:
"I was just waiting for you to say [to me] 'I'm sorry,' [I want to hear you say:] sorry I can't play tonight." (Subtext: I am pissed and you owe me an apology.)

BIG difference, no?

Unfortunately the conversation took a downward spiral from there, with both of us on the defensive, both of us clueless as to why the other seemed angry. Fortunately after we had slept on it (albeit badly), and once we had compared notes, we figured out the miscommunication and really apologized to each other and laughed about it. We also came up with some rules for IM chat.
  1. Don't assume the person who loves you and who you should trust is angry. If you are confused, ask them. Ask for clarification of the words just sent. ("Did you mean to say...").
  2. Don't expect the need for clarity to be one-sided. People who know each other well may be able to read between the lines, but you can't depend on that. Ask if the other party understood your words. They will appreciate your concern.
  3. Write in full sentences and use punctuation. Really. It may be slower in the short term, but it will save time and trouble in the long run.
  4. Trust each other. Always be honest when you are bothered. Chances are there is something being miscommunicated.
So, out of curiosity, any of you out there have this same problem? What are your solutions? Your rules for IM chat?

Friday, April 17, 2009

GFs are a Girl's Best Friend

So last night was another night that I sat in SL hoping for someone to come online to play. I could have been writing, or cleaning (gonna have RL company in 2 weeks), or doing something useful. I guess I did do something useful, I moved the waterfall wall we have (thanks Jhai!) to block the view of the stupid fleamarket next door with its revolving yellow signs. Here is the thing, though: once upon a time women sat alone at home by the phone waiting for someone to call. Today women check their cell phones for messages a dozen times an hour, waiting for a text, an email, a message. And if we play in Second Life, now we watch the Friends Online like a hawk, or we sit in SL waiting. Why do we do that? Why don't we just get up and go do something on our own? Why do we need playmates at all? Remember that feminist rant from the 70s: "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle?" Maybe we girls need to think like that again.

There I was feeling sorry for myself . . . no one to dance with, poor (sic!) me. Then Ash logged in. So we went to sit in Jhai's airship--it has a tea table set up in the nose where there is not only a great view, but you can sit and sip tea quietly and chat with a friend. We sat up drinking tea and chatting into the wee hours like a couple of teenagers. We talked about men and the problems of long-distance relationships. (Her boy, Wulf, is away this week and she will be away next week--no computer connections for two weeks! Somehow that made my troubles at the time pale in comparison.) We talked about places and furniture and clothes and even about airships. (Wulf has seen these and now he wants one.) It was a lovely evening. Girl talk. No boys.

So, ladies, next time you find yourself sitting by the phone (real or metaphoric) go hunt up a GF and hang. It is a much better way to pass the time.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Song for Monday: "Her Morning Elegance" by Oren Lavie

The thunder makes her contemplate
She hears a noise behind the gate
Perhaps a letter with a dove
Perhaps a stranger she could love

And she goes
Nobody knows