Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Scowling at my chat window

I think I have finally settled on the surest way to create conflict in all but the most longstanding interpersonal relationships: spend time talking on online chat applications.

I would suspect that the rise in popularity of chat--for everything from work conversations to meeting that special someone to catching up with the grandkids--has been accompanied by a rise in interpersonal conflict and misunderstandings.

And why not? Online chat combines the worst of two primary human communication vehicles. It offers the immediacy, and therefore lack of forethought, of face-to-face conversation. It offers the lack of facial expression, intonation and body language of the written word. Shake those shortcomings with a tendency to misspell things and forgo punctuation and you have a nasty swill.

I say all these things from the perspective of someone who is a Gmail and Facebook chat addict. My best friend lives in another town. She and I talk nearly every day on chat. And we seldom have misunderstandings. That said, we both think a lot alike and know each other very well. I don't need to see her face or hear her voice to understand what she means. And it's OK if she says exactly what she is thinking. That's what you are supposed to do with close friends.

But put the inadequacies of the vehicle to test with someone you don't know well and it's a bloody minefield. I've experienced mild to severe examples of this in the last few months and am starting to get irritated as all get out, both at myself and others.

If human relationships, both personal and professional, are going to survive this means of communication, we all will need to tweak our mindset a little. We all need to work harder at giving others the benefit of the doubt. We need to stop the rapid-fire back and forth typing and clarify rather than making assumptions. We need to be mindful of the possibility that the person we are chatting with may not "read" our conversation in the same way we intended it to be delivered. Holding a chat conversation to the same standard as either the spoken interchange or e-mail exchange is unfair to all involved and serves only to create frustration.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

The war on ... heroism

This from an online news feed headline:

"Troopers make heroine bust"

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Friday, February 20, 2009


Sorry, just not feelin' it. Am I the only person in the world who finds Fridays completely overwhelming?

Got up late, 'cause by the end of the week, the lack of sleep is catching up with me. No time to make coffee. Forgot to play tooth fairy (bad mother, bad mother). And after a week of everyone and their brother wanting something from me for a good 16 hours a day, I feel both picked over and guilty for not being able to get to half of the stuff I was supposed to. The avalanche of work that builds all week long, I suspect, will let loose and bury me right about 4 p.m., resulting in a 12-hour day. Is it fair to throw up your hands and just say, "enough, already, I give."

Fridays make me want to find a cabin in the woods, far away from everyone, and just hide there for a while.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A little disturbed here

Child: I want to see Hannah Montana in real life.
Mother: (eye roll) Why?
Child: Because I've been dreaming about her.

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Reduced for quick sale - part deux

Oh my, my, my. A quick perusal of a VERY small range of choices on a unnamed online "find your true love here" sort of site garnered some ... interesting ... prospects:

• One soft-hearted gent made sure to highlight his emotional strength, noting that he is "honist and sinsere." Great, he can't even spell the characteristics.

• “sugar daddy for you” plus undersized straw cowboy hat and cheap sunglasses ... can buttless chaps be far behind?

• "If you like tall dark and handsome, then your probably not looking in the right place." and “Single Man, nothing special” Points for honesty and a little self-deprecation. Points off for improper use of "your."

• “if you'd like to take a chance” So basically, what you are saying is that it's pretty damn risky to even send a little icebreaker note?

• Any use of the words "teddy" or "bear" together or separately. Not a plushie. Not looking to become one. I'm just sayin'.

• Blurred photo plus no capitalization in the title plus all caps in the body text equals ... RUUUUUUNNNNN!

• Note: You really should wear clothing when you shoot your profile picture. Trust me on this.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

It's not about getting along

Something is out of kilter in the universe, I have decided, as many people around me seem to be awash in misery lately. One friend--one I suspect is growing weary of all the sadness--expressed the sentiment that he wished everyone could get along.

It's a worthy sentiment, to be sure. That said, I think that simply getting along isn't the action but rather the result of another change that would fix so much of the misery.

Enter reality. How much easier would it be for all of us if people would simply mean what they say and follow through with action? How much misery could be prevented if all of us would quit spinning things and telling half-truths? How much better, and more secure, would we all feel if when someone looked at us and said, "This is what I want," we could believe that to be true?

I am no saint, to be sure, and I have made some monumental mistakes in my life. I have paid for those mistakes. I'm sure I'll continue to screw up on a regular basis. That said, one thing I count as a defining part of my personality is that what comes out of my mouth reflects what is, not what I think someone wants to hear, not what is convenient at the moment. I simply don't see the point of insincerity. If I say I will do something, then I will. If I say I want something, it's because I do. If I give you my friendship or my love, you can take that to the bank. It is.

And as I look at the misery around me, it's not rooted in conflict. Conflict is not bad. It's rooted in insincerity, in the words and actions of people who have made promises they had no intention of keeping, of people uttering tiny deceptions that snowball into a giant, nasty wad of lies.

Getting along? That will happen as soon as all of us can count on "yes, I will" or "no, I don't" meaning exactly that. Until then, we'll continue to feel baffled and betrayed when we find that "yes" turns out to mean "no" and that having any faith in the word of others seems to be a fool's errand.

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Monday, February 02, 2009


My stat counter matches my birth year. Scaaary. Stuff. Things.

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