Sunday, November 22, 2009

When you say nothing at all...

Today it was suggested to me, by someone I hold in otherwise high esteem, that perhaps I had been condescending. a service of defines the term as "showing or implying a usually patronizing descent from dignity or superiority". During the event in question I was not being condescending, though I admit that after reading its definition I am tempted to try my hand at honing this skill. My comment at the time was aloof and actually a poorly written representation of my own crowded thoughts of the moment.

We seem to live in a culture where we say more without saying a word and yet we have fascinating words to describe this nonverbal phenomenon. Condescending is just the beginning. My new favorite overused pop-culture term to describe one's intention with nonverbal communication is "passive aggressive". I love this concept. We can be nonverbally speaking while being passively aggressive. Where then do the possibilities end? Can we be extramaritally committed?

And speaking, or not, of this how is it even possible to determine one's nonverbals via technology? The aforementioned event took place over Facebook. How could one reasonably substantiate condescension, a presumed nonverbal communication tactic, over the internet? If ever a reasonable doubt existed this would have been it. I submit that we did not even have a conversation as face to face words were not exchanged. It is the same maddening concept as someone who offers that they read a great book when they have listened to the audio book.

If statistically speaking, and again I am not sure that is possible either, most of our communication is nonverbal then how we communicate via technology is limited at best and most often misunderstood. This is the challenge for the writer to capture all the emotion and imagery typically reserved for facial expressions, hand gestures, and voice intonations and painstakingly offer them "verbatim" in written form.

As for my friend, well, we were always better face to face anyway.

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