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Email confusion

I am struck again by how easily personal email (email sent directly to me) confuses me relatively to other online formats. Group email such as on Yahoogroups is not directed specifically at me, so I take it as a general response even if in reply to my words. LJ or other blogs rarely confuse me. IM occasionally. But personal email is the source of huge misunderstanding as generally in email, one does not go on at great length AND it is often meant to be a personal letter. I lack the context of tone and body language. C says I use words more precisely than many other people. Perhaps that's true, but with imprecise words and the person's tone and body language, I fill in the appropriate words, so it's okay. Or in a blog I have more of a sense of the person's tone.

For some years now I've restricted my personal email to formulaic exchanges: invitations, offers to mail or pick stuff up, offers to volunteer, business exchanges. But occasionally, the email departs into more personal realms and I drown in the meaning of words. Is "If we should meet again" just a phrase or that the person has doubts about seeing me? I don't have these types of questions in any other format. I feel a bit like I have a form of email Asperger's. And yes I mean that lightly though Asperger's itself is a serious topic and yet I do wish I were more fluent in the lexicon of email. But I've been using email since 1986, so I'm probably a hopeless case and can only hope that email will go the way of Bitnet (how I first started sending email) and will be replaced by online formats less confusing to me.

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( 6 notes — Leave a note )
haddayr
Jun. 9th, 2008 06:42 pm (UTC)
I cannot COUNT the number of misunderstandings I've had in email due to lack of context with facial expressions, body language, etc.

Comparing it to Asperger's is actually quite apt -- we are missing the social cues we depend on.
dawnd
Jun. 9th, 2008 08:35 pm (UTC)
(nods) Yes, I think it would be fair to say that e-mail gives everyone at least a light case of Asperger's. The biggest problem being that actual people with Asperger's learn coping skills, and those of us who are (FSVO) "neurotypical" will be surprised to be caught without those social cues. One would think that we'd learn over time, but on the whole, seems like not so much.

And even those smileys and suchlike that are there to HELP with the lack of expression can often be a hindrence. I once very specifically included a smiley to show that I meant something in a lighthearted way. The person read the words, looked at the smiley, assumed that the smiley was FALSE, and interpreted the whole thing as me being *malicious* about the "ill intent" that my words must mean, because no one could possibly actually MEAN what I meant with that smiley. *facepalm*

Sometimes I consider going back to writing all of my correspondence long-hand.
waterowl
Jun. 10th, 2008 03:54 pm (UTC)
Ouch Dawn! That sucks eggs. I do at least know how to read smileys... at least I hope so. :)
waterowl
Jun. 10th, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the understanding! It helps!
esmerel
Jun. 10th, 2008 06:06 am (UTC)
ozarque has written about this in her LJ a few times. She has some really good stuff, you might find it interesting.
waterowl
Jun. 10th, 2008 03:54 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the link!
( 6 notes — Leave a note )