Monday, February 27, 2012

Why We Get in Trouble Sometimes Via Text Messages and Emails

The absence of tone in today's rushed forms of communication is where the trouble lies. Tone is as important as words themselves when it comes to clear communication. The problem with texting and emailing quick notes is that tone is often left up to inserted smiley faces or punctuation (often misused), which hasty readers may overlook or misread, resulting in misunderstandings galore! What we can’t hear, even if only in our heads, often hurts us in terms of understanding the intentions of someone’s words. Thinking about the many “insert-cursor-in-mouth” moments I’ve encountered or heard about from others, I decided to post the following poem to illustrate how specific words are the key to understanding the tone behind the message.

Aah, It’s All in the Tone
by Susan L. Lipson

Slurping hot chicken soup on a cold day, or…
Spilling hot soup on my lap;

Pulling a muscle, or…
Having that sore muscle massaged;

Feeling inspiration strike for a new story, or…
Typing “The End” after the rush of inspiration wanes;

Basking under a hot shower after a week of camping in the wilderness, or…
Discovering that the water heater broke while you were camping—no hot water!

Enjoying a gorgeous view a forest, or…
Watching, horrified, as fire consumes the forest.

Swaying in a hammock between fragrant pines, or…
Falling out of the hammock onto the hard ground.

It takes more than sound to hear tone.

Writers: To meet our goal of affecting and connecting with readers via memorable words, we must not leave tone to the white space between the lines; we must create tone via imagery.

1 comment:

  1. Robert Frost was especially interested in the subject of tone and how to convey it in written speech. It's not always easy. That's probably why so many people understand his famous poem "The Road Less Traveled" exactly the opposite of the way I understand it. I think his tone was heavily ironic, but it seems as if most readers miss the irony completely, and think it's about picking the less traveled, and therefore better, path in life. But his real point is that people choose a path among paths that look essentially equal at the beginning; and then afterwards justify that choice to themselves. Interpreting this poem depends on the reader picking up on the ironic tone. I bet anything if people could hear Robert Frost read the poem aloud -- hear the irony in his voice -- more people would "get" it.