Yesterday, some of the neighborhood kids were playing at our house. One little girl’s family hails from the Caribbean, her name is Elie and she’s in the 1st grade. She was happily exploring our play kitchen, when my daughter (2) tossed her shoes off the couch without looking and one of them ricocheted off of Elie’s arm.
Sophie said she was sorry, and then my son, Jack (also 2), ambled over and started asking Elie if she was all right. But his two year-old language skills haven’t really mastered the evasive ‘R’ sound, so it sounded like this, “Are you all wite?’ To which Elie replied matter-of-factly, “No, I’m brown.”
I love that our children are not nearly as fazed by color as older generations – it is truly heartening and shows that we are, in fact, moving forward (that along with the first African-American presidential nominee!)
But the scenario, after I stopped laughing, made me think about the miscommunications that happen online via email, blogs or social media – when we aren’t necessarily missing the ‘R’ sound, but we are all so culturally different and may be missing social skills or losing the natural politeness inherent in face-to-face interactions because we’re shielded by the computer screen.
And in these political times, I can’t help but think of all of this and not relate it to Sarah Palin, John McCain and their campaign slinging hate towards Barack Obama; hiding not behind the internet, but rather behind the shady curtain of the Right flank that surrounds them.
For us interneters, here’s my list on how to avoid miscommunications online (and off):
- If you are smiling, laughing, being sarcastic, etc. within your message, put a symbol or actually include your written intention. Don’t expect people to guess.
- As the receiver, ASK if you are confused. Just the other day someone sent me a message that sounded rather mean, so I asked. She was glad I did and we had a great exchange. (She wasn’t mad at all)
- Know your audience.
- Always be nice. I would never ask you to compromise your passion, your beliefs and your right to sing them bravely out loud – but, you can never go wrong with kindness and respect (it will probably get you even farther).
Let’s end with this: Speak clearly and carry an open mind, a kind heart & endless ideas for progress.
Have a great weekend, people! I’ll be in Vermont in a house with…(cue scary music)…DIAL-UP (the horror, the horror).