I think you'll agree that Juliet makes some very thoughtful and thought-provoking points in this posting. Thanks Juliet! Enjoy everyone!
What an honour it is to make a guest blog appearance and for the wonderful William no less. If I were speaking, this is the bit where I’d drop my notes and bash my head on the mic whilst picking them up. But I only do such things when people are actually there to see. And point. And laugh. It might not be so bad if it wasn’t that I usually do the speech thing only at funerals.
It’s a strange feeling to blog outside one’s usual blogging ground. All kinds of questions come to mind. What will William’s audience be interested to hear? Will I get the tone of voice right..? I wracked my brains for something to talk about, read William’s blog backwards and forwards to get the vibe and then it came to me. The clue was in the questions.
Here I was trying to think of something to talk about when I wouldn’t really be talking at all. I realised that all I seem to have done for the last few days is talk and yet never speak a word. Emails, discussions, facebook, forums – I’ve never shut up. I’ve talked to some wonderful people, made some new friends, listened to many new ideas and perspectives, all in wonderful, soothing silence bar the clattering of my keyboard. But was it really talking? I say it most definitely was.
Most of the people I’ve encountered have been thousands of miles and several time zones away. Whole rooms full of them. Some would say ‘but it’s not real’. I assure you it most definitely is. You speak to someone over the telephone - you can’t see them, can’t shake hands to say hello and goodbye - but don’t question whether they are real. Why is a type-written voice any less so?
It’s curious that in talking about talking without talking, I’m still assigning vocal terminology to an inaudible conversation. That’s surely like a blind person being able to see by touch. The unique voice of a person still comes across in type and so very clearly it’s astounding. It’s a fantastic way to converse and despite what scaremongering media like to tell us, anyone with an ounce of sense can tell exactly who and how a person is and whether you’ll get along. Often it takes less time than if you’d met in person and here’s why I think that is:
It’s easier to get along when there is no pressure to actually do so, which in face to face situations, even were they holographic, is unavoidable. We second guess each other when we can see a face. We also say far less when we feel watched. Feel unheard when we’re talked over. Removing the physical and audible presence of people and distilling their personalities into a typeface has a remarkable effect. A person projects more of their distinct being into what they say because they can’t gesticulate or alter pitch and tone. Facial expressions and physical appearances don’t matter. After a time with the same people you can tell who is speaking just by how they phrase things. There is no other explanation for it than that distillation of personality. We talk without talking, speak without speaking, meet without meeting, and to anyone who still says ‘but it’s not real’, I still say the exact opposite is true.
You can tell whether a person’s intellect is likely to work well with your own, whether their sense of humour is agreeable, whether they are warm or cold, quick or slow, relaxed or intense. All within the confines of a written message and with no visual cues. Your own confidence grows because you can’t mishear a written word. You can’t stumble over your tongue or suffer from a speech impediment. Nor do you feel anything like as pressured. I was reading William’s blog “If I… Will You?” and the reason that guy made so many sales was probably the body language, applying pressure by posture. They don’t call fighting talk posturing for no reason. Online there need be none of that.
I very much value the people I meet without meeting and conversations I have without speaking. I’m blown away not by how different we are but how very much the same the world over. Nationality, colour and creed do not matter. We’re all just a font on a virtual page. What matters is that we communicate on common ground, No Man’s Land if you will, and appreciate the human qualities in one another.
Nevertheless, there is a converse to this. Paranoia can creep in. Is someone talking off the boards about me? Is that a system error or has someone blocked me? Why haven’t I had a reply to my message? Things you can’t sense that you would be able to in a physically present situation and things again distilled because really, you’re sitting somewhere by yourself, unable to look anyone in the eye for reassurance. This is when you need to extract yourself for a while, log off and focus on something else.
Nothing gets under your skin quite like these inaudible conversations. They give you so much freedom to be yourself and really connect with people you would never otherwise have met. Sometimes it can be so intense that it does make you a little bit crazy. One could become too obsessed and quite ill through a lack of vitamin D as well, but as with everything else in life, used in moderation can do you the world of good. Those silent conversations can bring so much invaluable insight into anything and everything; they cannot be a bad thing. Provided you can walk away. And if you can’t walk away, buy a laptop and sit outside so you still get some sunlight and tangible world. As for me, I think next time I do a funeral speech I’ll hook up a projector and post it on screen. It seems the way forward.
** Again, please be sure to check out Juliet's website http://julietmchugh.co.uk/index.html.
You'll be glad you did!