Thursday, August 30, 2012

Misunderstanding… How hard do we fight it?

I’m wondering a little bit just how much effort we should put into trying to not be misunderstood, and where the line of “enough” is.
Sometimes Most of the time I think I should say what I mean as clearly as I can, answer any questions there may be, and leave it at that, knowing that I will be misunderstood by someone, somehow. Language is so fluid, nearly everyone has their own definitions for the words we say and hear, even if the differences lie only in the nuances, cumulatively they can and usually do add up to different meanings, or at least inferences.
I think I’m totally OK with that… until I see a certain someone say something that I feel implies something that they don’t mean. Granted, I am a mom, and certain people are still young (younger than me, anyway) and less experienced, and I have a responsibility to teach. But I do feel a bit hypocritical to say what I do about words meaning different things to different people and you will be misunderstood, and then turn around and advise amending statements because people will misunderstand what you just said.
It was mostly drawn to my attention when I was misrepresented. I was implied to be angry at someone when I wasn’t in the least even miffed. But once it was drawn to my attention, it won’t go away.

Am I a hypocrite in this area? Do I want the freedom to casually throw my words around but think that others should be very careful about what they say and how they say it?
I don’t think so. (Of course. Who does think they’re a hypocrite?) I think that I think there is a middle ground. A place where you elucidate as much as possible while avoiding unnecessary tedium and redundancy, and then you leave it. And I think that the instance that drew this whole topic to my attention was a careless throwing of words that relieved emotion. I also think that when we are representing others (which makes the whole question a much bigger ball of wax), we should use the words that they would use.
For example, I was reported to have been “not too impressed” with what someone else said. To me, that implies that I am in a bit of a huff about it, when really, I just said that I see the topic differently than them and I disagree with their conclusion. Maybe those both sound the same to everyone else and I am getting hung up on semantics and my “image”?
That happening plus a recent conversation with a friend about how “kids today” (am I really old enough to be saying THAT??) see privacy and disclosure so differently that we did at that age… Thinking of the things that get shared on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and the like, and the carelessness with which they are thrown around, and the (I feel) much larger possibility of being misunderstood coupled with the fact that Google never forgets makes me realize that the recipe is for a much more intense accountability and responsibility for our words than 50 years ago. (NO, I’m NOT that old!)
I feel that I am on that pendulum swing we all know about, where you swing one way in reaction to being held the other way (by your own wrong thinking or others’ control), and finally settle down to the middle. Except on this pendulum swing, I am feeling like there is a strong magnet on either side, propelling me to swing the other way. I’m hoping that with some time and thought and effort, that I’ll be able to settle down to the middle (correct/best position) and let those magnets hold me there.
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