Magnify or minimize?

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November 20, 2015 by readlisaread

Recently I had a friend make a disparaging remark about social media.  It is a constant source of amazement to me that we humans, we of the upright posture, the opposable thumbs and the ability to create the works of William Shakespeare, can so badly muddle our way through communication.

It strikes me that it’s all about scale. At one end of the scale, the meaning is tiny, almost insignificant. The “I’m good thanks and you” exchange with a cashier. And the other end of the scale is something that changes you forever–being told “I love you” for the first time by someone you love in return.

So how does this scale function when it shifts between the face to face world and the digital one. With no physical cues, you can’t offer a toss-away greeting. Every question¬† hangs there, awaiting response. You can share physical space with someone and convince yourself it is a companionable silence, but a one-sided text conversation is obvious, even at a glance.

There seems to be two camps– words on the screen have either little meaning (froth and white noise), or they are of great value, given their permanence, their record. Conversations can be kept, reread, re-interpreted. The casual remark spoken aloud can be instantly forgotten, but the digital quip shares equal weight, equal real estate on the screen. The balance can be skewed.

Which end of the magnifying glass do you look through when you read words on the screen?


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