I have heard it said so many times – how online communication is more open to misunderstanding because we don’t hear the other person’s tone of voice and we don’t see their facial expressions… Heard it so many times and never questioned it, until last night, when I discovered that tone of voice can sometimes cause misunderstandings.
It’s about cultural differences. As an Israeli living in England, it turns out that my tone of voice can sound to English ears as though I’m angry when I’m not angry at all. (I guess that means that when I really am angry, I must sound super-angry to them…)
And now that I think of it, facial expressions can also – in a cross-cultural context – be misleading. It took me a long time to begin to realise that just because these people around me look completely unmoved, that doesn’t mean they’re not experiencing something deeply emotional inside. They just aren’t in the habit of showing their feelings.
So maybe there are some advantages to a form of communication which strips away these outward things, so that we’re left with just the words themselves – plus the odd emoticon to hint that someone’s joking.