Monday, 30 July 2012

Personality Projected on the Printed Page

Human communication is very complex.  It is easy enough to be misunderstood when you are speaking to someone face to face.  In the medium of print, it is impossible to know how others perceive you or take your meaning.

For example,  I have been following a particular blog for several months.  This individual is obviously a very talented cook and writer.  They have a beautifully designed webpage and feature some of the best food bloggers I have ever seen.   Over the past few months, I've been communicating with some of the contributors on Twitter.  I can tell you, I have never met more generous and kind people.   It was all going swimmingly until one day there was an article on cake and all the wheels came flying off.

The author of the blog posted the most venomous comment about cupcakes and those who choose to bake them.  Not just cupcakes, but those 'VILE AMERICAN' cupcakes.  Perhaps I was being too sensitive but I felt each vitriolic word like a slap across the face.  My perception of that blogger radically changed in that instant.  I went from respecting and admiring them to seeing every word they wrote as being arrogant or patronising.

In an instant I had typed an equally fierce comment in reply.  I wrote how unfair their comments were, when many of the blog's faithful supporters were American and all had been so complimentary and kind.  A large portion of this author's success could be attributed to loyal American cupcake bakers.   How DARE ......etc, etc, etc.

Then I read my comment to check it for errors and to make sure I'd made my point.  It was awful, I was ashamed.   I'd spat back with the same viciousness I thought I had perceived from the blogger.  Shame on me.

I deleted the unsent comment.  It wouldn't have changed the blogger's attitude, in fact, my rant would have only reinforced it.  There is another possibility,  maybe I read it wrong.  Perhaps the author had never meant to sound so unkind and disrespectful.  It could be how I read it ....not how it was written.

I began to wonder how the people who read my blogs perceive me.  Debs Dust Bunny is written primarily for my young nieces in the United States, so the content is light hearted and light on verbiage.  The Absent Auntie is more serious and hopefully, more content oriented.   Do I seem vapid, boastful or dour?  Am I just one of those 'VILE AMERICAN' cupcake bakers cluttering up the Internet with trivial tripe?

Well, yes, possibly, but it's not how I intend to come across.  So I've learned a lesson, NEVER respond to a comment in anger.   Try an old acting technique, read the line in a different way.  You will be amazed how it changes the meaning of the words.

Yes, human communication is a VERY complex thing,  even more complicated in text.

Thank you Kate  for being so inspirational and making me think twice!  Visit

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