I have some rambling thoughts about communication:
I have played a game on the internet that plays in real time with real people. I have talked alot to these people and feel I have gotten to know many of them quite well. Recently I did something a little daring. One of my internet friends is attending school not too far from where I live. We decided that for her birthday we would meet. I joked with her that I was really an 80 year old man who was going to throw her in the trunk of my car. We all laughed about it, but I think there was always this slight fear in the back of her mind. :) However, we finally decided to just do it. It was on a Sunday, and I don't shop or go to restaurants and such on Sunday, so I arranged to meet her down at the docks here in town. There is a nice path going by the water. We met and had a good conversation for about 45 minutes before I had to go to choir practice.
I have felt like I have known this person fairly well, I have talked to her online many hours over the past year. I think when you write, you say things that you may not say as freely in person. It's easier to really see how people think. The suprise for me in meeting her is how unprepared I was for the importance of body language. It's amazing how important body language is in our communication. It kind of makes me wonder if this is what it would be like to be blind. You hear the words people say, you understand the meaning. You may even hear subtle nuances in the way they speak. But unless you see how they physically react to what you say, you miss much of the true communication.
In conjunction with this is the actual vocal delivery. It is so odd that as I have talked to these people on line, I have come to realize that I hear their voice in my head a certain way. To me some talk in a deeper voice, some in a higher. Okay...I'm not really psycho...maybe just imaginative. But after meeting her in person, I realized what a different component the sound of our voice also adds to our communication. I think when I read what they write online, I hear it in my head the way I would say it. But her delivery in person was much different.
I have one internet friend who often makes comments questioning whether we really do even know each other. I think to some degree she is right. We only see one aspect of each other. I don't see her in a professional setting, how she presents herself in public. We only see each other as we relate to the game. I for example am very religious. That doesn't come in to play on the game much, so I know they have no comprehension for what a big part that plays in my life. They see the goofy me...not the mother who runs a tight ship. They see the joking me...not the me that may visit someone who is dying, or ill.
It is interesting to me though that we all tend to share things with each other that we probably wouldn't share with anyone in real life. Some tell me of serious problems they face in real life. Some have illnesses....mental and physical. Some have marital problems, or employment problems. Some have suffered abuse, or neglect. There is something about sharing one's thoughts in writing that is liberating. When we don't have to worry about body language, or delivery...our own, or the person we are talking to....we have more courage to say what we are thinking. I think I share more with them too. Normally, I would probably not tell anyone in real life if I was upset or angry. I tend to just deal with it myself. But something about writing draws it out.
One case in point before I finish. One day on the game, my character was standing, and another came up. A third person named Kelly walked by. The person next to me said, "My mother's name was Kelly...but she died." I said, "Oh? When did she die?" He said, "A long time ago." I said, "How old were you when she died?" He said, "I was 7." I said, "How old are you now?". He said, "I'm 10." He said, "I'm really sad." I asked if he had talked to his Dad about it. He didn't answer. I said, "Well, when you go to heaven, you will be able to see her again." He said, "I've done bad things." I said, 'Well, you can always change.". He said, "I like you." and logged off the game. I realized after he logged off that he thought that since he has done bad things in his life, he probably doesn't think he will get to go to heaven to see his mother. I looked for him many times since that day, but never saw him again.
It's too bad that we aren't able to communicate better with the people in our lives. I hope that little boy's Dad will take some time to talk to him...and really listen. I hope all of us will take time to really communicate what we are feeling, and listen to the feelings of others.