Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Written vs. Face-to-Face Communication
Last week while I was on a plane, I saw an ad in the SkyMall magazine for some dating service which matched people up online, but met with all members individually first to get a sense of their personality when helping them create their profile. They then went on to talk about how you can't actually get a good sense of who somebody is and build a relationship via written communication, and it's not until you see them in real life that you can realize who they are.
Yeah, I don't buy that.
That makes the assumption that we are always more ourselves in face-to-face interactions than in written ones, and, for me at least, that is ABSOLUTELY not true. People who regularly read my blog probably know me better than people who regularly interact with me on a casual level. There have been times when people I have known for YEARS in real life suddenly find out a major facet of my personality and had no idea.
I'm not *hiding* my true personality in face-to-face situations so much as I just refuse to fight for the spotlight. If I'm in a social group of people who all have things to say, I will generally just let them all speak and I will say nothing, even if I have something to contribute, because I don't want to *demand* their attention.
When I communicate in writing, I don't feel like I have to force myself into a conversation. I don't have to be the loudest one at the table to make myself heard. I can just say what I want to say and move on.
When I communicate in writing, I can think about what I want to say. I can find the words to say *exactly* what I mean, without having to verbally bactkrack and say, "No, that's not what I meant."
When I communicate in writing, I'm not spending so much time trying to watch the other person and figure out if they're bored by what I'm saying or not.
When I communicate in writing, I am more open, more friendly, more willing to share who I actually am.
There's a reason every single close friend from high school is someone I met online. Although I have bridged the gap a bit in the years since high school, I still make very strong, very personal ties to online friends. And *nobody* is allowed to tell me those aren't real friendships. The best is when I meet up with those friends for the first time in real life and I click with them instantly - but not because I'm "finally getting to see who they are." We both know each other already. It's just adding another level to the friendship.
Some of the stigma of online friendships and relationships is already fading, and I'm delighted. Even if most of the people I meet in real life don't HAVE online-only friends, they know someone who does, and it's not as much of a "What kind of socially incompetent basement-dwelling monster are you?" look anymore.