Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Y Is For Yelling

Jennifer talks about the written word…

When my kids text me in all capital letters, I ask them why they’re yelling at me. Usually, they’re not, but they’re too lazy to turn off the “caps lock.” Sometimes they’re trying to make a point. Most times, they don’t know why I’m objecting to the way they’re texting.

When I receive emails from various people, I often wonder if they mean to sound the way I’m interpreting their messages. It’s not the words I don’t understand, but the way they are using the words and the tone that appears to come across the computer screen.

As writers, we’re expected to be word experts. We are supposed to convey emotions through what we write. We try to “show” and not “tell.” It’s a constant battle, and one that requires many rounds of editing until I think I get it right.

Yet in casual written messages—emails, texts, social media posts—I am sometimes misunderstood. So what is the difference? Am I putting less thought into the messages I send to people I care about than the words I write for the general public?  Am I reading too much into the messages I receive? And how do we fix it?


  1. it's hard to convey humor or sarcasm in emails or texts.
    We take them literally or read them on the run.
    (My fingers seem to find the wrong key or spell check mis-corrects what I've typed.)
    Emoticons help, but they are often too small for conveying nuance. I try to be precise in my email messages,

    1. Yeah, I put in a lot of smiley faces to try to make sure people know I'm not angry.

  2. I've always thought that e-mails (and now texts) are one of the easiest ways to be misunderstood. In the shorthand used, especially nowadays, there's too much room for interpretation of tone, voice, mood, etc. What's meant to be joking becomes hurtful...Communicating this way is a tricky business for sure.

  3. I use a lot of exclamation marks, both in emails and on social media. Not sure whether they help or not, but I do also try to phrase things tactfully! (see, there's another exclamation mark)

  4. It is difficult to be funny as people need to see your face/eyes for that. I'm as guilty as anyone for using exclamation marks and happy faces to get my message across.

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