Thursday, September 15, 2005

Where Have All the Feelings Gone?

I was in the middle of talking to someone online today through AIM when I suddenly discovered something about instant messaging. I told the person "I had to hide the knives so I didn't cut my wrist over my girlfriend" and they thought I was serious! This was an amazing discovery to me, that it is difficult to broadcast emotion, or in the case SARCASM in big letters, over IM. Not only through AIM, but email, flogging, txt messaging and many other forms of faceless communication.

I must admit that it is possible to encode emotions into texts. They can all have an underlying tone, but its just not the same. There is so much lost in the message without the facial expressions and voice inflexion. Barring emoticons, which are extremely helpful in conveying some emotions, there are few options available to correct this problem.

I'm finding that the only methods to create the necessary tone are through the aforementioned emoticons(smiley faces and all that jazz) and internet speak (j/k and LOL). These methods of emotion transference are better than nothing, but that's about all the credit I can give to them. If I can't make a joke about cutting my wrist then there needs to be a new solution. I suppose the emoticons are the best and most often used current method(for IM at least), but what about cell phone txting?

The latest ideas seem to be the replacing of txting with actual video messaging. Whether this idea will actual catch on or not remains to be seen, but it does solve the problem fairly well. It recreates the facial expressions and voice inflections. There may be some body language still lacking, but there is no replacement for face to face communication. There will always be the lag time and the awkwardness of sending messages by technological means. It will never be quite the same as chatting in person.

So, should we abandon our newest communication methods for the old face to face format? Well, for the time being the lack of some emotions has not proven that large of a problem for many. I guess for myself, I'll have to avoid the 'suicide jokes' until they make and 'I'm just kidding about killing myself emoticon'.



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