We all know that every day is something special and I believe yesterday was National Emoji Day.
Exciting, right? A full day to celebrate those useful little faces (and other things) that we are now obliged to insert into texts and emails so that we are certain the recipient will “get” our meaning. Well okay, we are not obliged and I do know lots of people (old people like me) who rarely use them at all. But don’t you find it fascinating that they exist? And that there is now a day to honour them?
Oh wait. Have I confused you? When you saw the title of this blog did you think I was going to discuss something else? (insert smiley face with halo here)
Sorry to disappoint (if I did) but when I’m talking about “oral” I am talking about “oral communication”. As in conversation. Face to face chat. Words said out loud to someone who is in the same room.
Even on the phone for that matter. Seriously, how many people do you actually call these days? I have a few friends (old people like me) who still pick up the phone. And thank goodness my son prefers live chat to lengthy text dialogues with his mother. But even I (old) now conduct most of my correspondence via a keyboard.
And this is fine. If it’s all about logistics or life catch-up or even announcing news.
It is, however, not so fine when you are engaged in discussion of a more esoteric, personal nature. Like say, the state of your romantic union, religion or politics. THEN your lingusitic capabilities are brought into full question and I will tell you even some of the very best writers I know FAIL. They fail to communicate EXACTLY what they are trying to communicate because, as it turns out, we’re not all Shakespeare. We don’t all fully delight in the creation of the perfect phrase. We don’t all have poetry coursing through our veins nor do we all know how to type quickly with more than two fingers.
And then there’s that pesky little problem of making sure the beneficiary or our ramblings actually truly understands their intent. That is the BIG FAT fucking problem. Because if we are not erudite ENOUGH to share our thoughts clearly and succinctly without even the slightest possibility of misinterpretation well guess what? We open ourselves up to ALL kinds of big fat Misinterpretation.
I communicate via email fairly regularly with a friend who is intelligent, interesting and eloquent. I would love to believe that I am kinda sorta the same (c’mon now, that was funny). And just last week we found ourselves lost in a quagmire of misunderstanding. Somebody thinks something is funny and somebody else thinks something is hurtful and you don’t hear the vocal inflection and you don’t see the twinkle in the eye and all of a sudden you are up to your neck in miscommunicative muck. Not necessarily on purpose. Maybe just because we didn’t use enough emojis and we rarely talk in person. We don’t have that quiet understanding born of many same-room conversations.
Now at this point you might be thinking “Okay Vic, thank you, we get it, you want more oral in your life.”
Because the written word in its new immediate form also offers SO many benefits.
The aforementioned ability to instantly connect without invading anyone’s personal space. That is EXACTLY why I do love email and text. I can read at me leisure and I can respond at my leisure. It is all about MY leisure. I don’t have to answer a phone call during dinner and I don’t have to have a face to face conversation that I may not be ready (for any number of reasons) to have. Email and text offer me CONTROL.
And I like that.
They also offer me the opportunity to read and re-read and re-read again and only THEN formulate my response which I may or may not edit, re-edit and sleep on before sending. These are all REALLY GOOD things. Especially if the discussion is heated, volatile and/or passionate.
My pal T was involved in a relationship with a guy who possessed the gift of gab and was super quick on his feet, especially during a lover’s quarrel. And she would then moan to me “Vic, I get lost in these discussions because he is just SO good at them and I forget my place and then my thoughts and I just sit there like a dummy while he pummels me with words!”
And I replied “Okay then. Don’t have those conversations with him. Not in person. Write down your thoughts and concerns and questions and send them to him. Bullet-pointed! So that he then has an opportunity to address them one by one and you have an opportunity to get the answers you need.”
Apparently he didn’t much like that. He preferred the upper hand he knew he had in live dialogue and didn’t really want to answer anything on paper (so to speak). It just wasn’t in his playbook. He didn’t really want to address her concerns or advance their relationship. He wanted to win. And he could only win on one playing field.
It was the end for them. And rightly so.
Because when we are offered SO many avenues of communication and when refuse to avail ourselves (and our relationships) of ALL of them we are doing ourselves a great disservice. I mean seriously, why wouldn’t we explore ALL options of intercourse?
There I go again, confusing you.
But not really.
Because connection is connection is connection. And intercourse is not just a word for sex. Would you choose only one “style” of sex for all time? And if not why in heck would you choose only one “style” of communication?
We live in a blessed time when letters don’t take months to arrive, live conversations are only a few clicks away and even face to face expression is easy to facilitate, even if you are on opposite sides of the planet.
To fully and completely make yourself known and understood, why wouldn’t you try every style?
Sure, maybe oral ain’t what it used to be but it still is exactly what it’s always been.
Along with so much more. Just don’t forget about it.
Enjoy the buffet.