This post was inspired by a thought I expressed on twitter today that really deserved more than 140 characters.
In both spoken and written (or typed) conversation I require massive amounts of information outside of the actual words in order to understand what is being said. Smileys, hashtags, daps and even extra words, can all help to provide me with this context. It’s like the communication is happening in a foreign language that I learned at school and haven’t used since, I understand a lot of what is being said, but the subtleties and details that provide the context, and hence the meaning, are missing.
Often I will end up asking questions or just re-examining the conversation in my head to try and decipher the message hidden within it. This can be quite frustrating. If the conversation is continuing at a rapid pace, it can be quite tough for me to keep up. I end up drowning in words. Overwhelmed by the conversation.
In direct physical conversation a lot of the context is conveyed by body language and facial expression. Unless these are intentionally exaggerated, then they too are part of the foreign language. With facial expressions this is partly due to me doing my best to look anywhere but directly in to the other persons face, or worse still, their eyes. Yuk! I have to concentrate hard during a conversation and this is just not possible if someone has engaged their eye probes and is attempting to scan me.
I know that me walking around, or looking in to the distance may appear to show a complete lack of interest, but really the opposite is true. I have taken to playing with something with my hands whilst in a conversation in order to aid my conversation. At work, this normally means occupying my hands with my pen. The pen allows me to stim in a non-obvious and not self damaging way.