Sunday, April 20, 2008

Back to That Question

In the past couple of days, my mind's gone back to that question of how well we can know people through words alone.

Allowing for a few basic considerations, i.e. that you're not intentionally misrepresenting yourself, how much do your written words emphasize or de-emphasize aspects of your personality?

I'm speaking here in terms of comfort level, among other things. How much of what you do/might say in a note goes above and beyond what you'd be able to say to someone face-to-face?

If we go back to the online dating scenario, we take into consideration the idea that one of the hardest parts of meeting someone is just that, the meeting them part. Eye contact across a room is all well and good, but without someone having the courage to walk over and say hello, it becomes a mostly moot point.

So now I'm wonder, just how much courage does the written word give us?


The One and Only John said...

Actions speak louder than words. Someone can write all they want, but at the end of the day, if their actions are incongruous, then I think the words are suspect.

Ali said...

Yes, but this isn't a question of incongruity.

It's more a question of, if one were to meet a favorite author, how much difference might one see in the author's written voice vs. their spoken one?

Also, how would the ideas a person writes down be reflected in the way they do certain things? You don't know someone's body language just by reading something they've written, but how much of it can you guess at?

The One and Only John said...

Ah, this reminds me of the last writing marathon, and the readings afterwards. Especially that one guy who seemed to think we liked the sound of his voice so much that he graciously kept letting us hear it. And that quiet guy who's eyes shifted around a lot, and then read his piece about turning into a horse. I kind of just knew after being within twenty feet of them, what kinds of things they may write. I was really hoping that one kid with all the Hard Metal paraphrenalia about his person would read, I needed a dose of gloom that day.

Debbie said...

I think people can be a lot braver when writing than in person. I've seen it in workplace emails. I also saw it in another life when I was on the MST3K boards on AOL. There were some shy people who hooked up and, as far as I know, are still together some 10-12 years later. And the flame wars! The threats that were tossed back and forth by guys who would piss their pants if someone threatened them in the real world.

And, John, would you believe that Moe writes what she does by looking at her?

The One and Only John said...

After hearing her talk about what's she writing her thesis about, nothing from her can surprise me...

Mishell said...

I think the amount of courage the written word gives to a person is just as individual to the person as the "voice" (written and spoken) is. Personally, while I find that writting gives me a stronger feeling of freedom of expresion--I'm at my leisure to choose just the right words--I don't feel like my writing is any more courageous than I am. In fact, I have noticed, to my chagrin, that my writing is sometimes just as cowardly as I am.

As to knowing an author by what s/he writes, well, that's a wonderful fairytale. Besides, do we ever really know anyone?