When I’m writing an email, or an instant message, or an essay, my fingers fly across the keyboard. 9 times out of 10 I know what to say and how to say it in a way that will either elicit the desired response or express my feelings appropriately. Something breaks down when I’m trying to process my thoughts directly into conversation, though. Without the filter of my fingers, I just can’t seem to always get to the heart of the matter. Not with everyday stuff; I’m not saying I’m a neanderthal when I try to talk to someone. I just feel like a neanderthal when it matters. When I want to say something important or make my case clearly, I usually am left with nothing to say.
Yesterday I was discussing with my manager the nuances of social media–why certain etiquette was acceptable and other practices were looked down upon. It’s hard to describe these things to anyone who isn’t inundated with new media everyday, and the conversation ended with my being super professionial: I pressed my hands to my temples, closed my eyes, and blurted out, “I don’t know what to tell you except it’s just. not. done that way.” (Fire GOOD and fire BAD.)
I slunk back to my office and sat down frustrated with myself. The matter got buried in a lengthy to-do list and I forgot about it ever happening in the first place. That evening, though, before I packed up to go home, I ran into my manager’s office to update him on some new facet of the website (which you should totally check out, by the way). While we were talking, it suddenly fell out of my mouth: The reason why I wanted to adopt one strategy over another in terms of social media; the benefits and detriments of one over the other; why my opinion made sense. I felt like my tongue had been loosened and I finished my speech with a smile. And he was convinced. “You finally articulated it,” he said. I later walked around the grocery store in a glow. I’d articulated myself. I’d art-tic-u-lat-ed myself! (Seriously, I walked around saying that word like that. In my head, though, so I wouldn’t scare anyone.)
Later that night I was still on a little high from “getting through” with my words and I started to wonder if I should feel alarmed rather than excited. Surely in 2011 communicating effectively with your fellow man shouldn’t feel like such an achievement. Has working so hard to express myself well through writing made me less able to articulate myself in everyday life? Has being buried in social media and websites stunted my social skills in the real world? Can anyone else out there relate? Or am I just a head case?
Don’t answer that last one.