Posts Tagged ‘Social Sciences’

Positive and Negative Perspectives

May 30, 2012 15 comments
Satire on false perspective, showing all of th...

Satire on false perspective, showing all of the common mistakes artists make in perspective, by Hogarth, 1753 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People talk about attitudes every day. The subject is always revealing. This morning I came up against it yet again, but in a different way. Let me explain.

I was brushing my teeth a while ago when I heard the toilet flush. Ours is a split bath with the lavatory separate from tub and toilet. I was startled because I’d not noticed Sister moving past me, either going or coming back.

I immediately inquired if she’d done so, to which she said, “Of course!”

Color me surprised. I replied, “I must have been really focused, since I didn’t notice you walking past me.”

Her response was, “Oblivious would be a good choice of word, too.”

I’ll tell you what I told her. “I choose to take a positive stance on this one, rather than see it as negative.”

This whole exchange may sound silly, but it addresses an everyday choice we make as humans. I prefer to think of the episode as “being focused.” The opposite take is “being oblivious.” I was focused on what I was doing and what I was thinking at the time; which just happened to be what I was going to write for this blog post today.

Sister considered it as less aware. One the one hand, she’s correct. I was unaware of her presence behind me and of her proximate activity. From her perspective, what I was doing took little thought and, therefore, I should have noticed her movements.

At the same time, my perspective informs me of my concentrative ability to screen out irrelevant activity while working on the mental plane. This does not happen when I’m in unfamiliar terrain or in uncertain situations. I see it as indicative of how safe and secure I feel in my own home.

Different perspectives? Certainly. Different attitudes? Again, yes, though those attitudes are informed by expectations as well. My expectation was of safety in my home. Hers revolved around momentary awareness of my surroundings.

When we move around our world, we carry expectations, and perspectives based on them, with us and draw conclusions from those factors. Whether those conclusions are viewed as correct are, for wont of another explanation, dependent on how other individuals interpret those conclusions.

The behavior of the world’s populace is based on these factors. Until consensus of perspective arises, there can be little hope for consensus of behavior. At least, that’s how I see it.

If one small action—my brushing my teeth and not noticing someone move behind me—creates a schism between positive and negative interpretation, how much more dramatic are divisions surrounding vast actions?

Give me your thoughts on this question. How do you see perspective and its role in the daily behavior of those two-legged creatures called humans? Leave a comment below and join the discussion.

Until then, a bientot,


Tech Use and Shorthand

January 2, 2012 11 comments

Anyone who takes the time to think about it has realized how much of our communications have devolved into graphics and monosyllabic use in the past couple of decades. Technology use, rather than the technology itself, appears to be the culprit in this case. Keep in mind the EMOTICON.

Whether emoticons came first or the graphics 🙂 people latched onto them immediately. Twitter, texting, and other networking uses demand similar communications skills.

Writers get hit with communication shorthand as much as anyone else. To truncate speech or not, that is the question. There’s no clear answer.

We’re accustomed to using shorthand for written note-taking and dictation. Some will ask “What is shorthand?”

Shorthand was a human skill, a hand-written encoded form used as late as the early ‘80’s, when the Dictaphone took over operations. All well-paid professional secretaries were required to have the skill. It’s fantastic for taking notes in university classes, too.

It fell out of favor, considered labor intensive and inefficient around 1980 and was replaced by dictating machines. In this century we have Dragon and other voice recognition specialty software that will take your dictation and produce your text.

Of course, Dragon can only do what its user tells it to do. It’s fast and that’s deemed important in today’s world. It takes dictation and writes it to a file. All punctuation, word choice, syntax, etc. must come from the user, which is as it should be. Yet, none of these conveniences can help the user until the user has “taught” her dragon how to recognize her speech patterns and the like.

In the “old” days the one dictating expected the secretary to come fully loaded (no pun intended) and already programmed with all the skills necessary for the job. Dragon doesn’t expect a paycheck at the end of the week, which gives it another advantage.

What does any of this history have to do with today’s use of the shortcuts in written communications? Actually, it relates well how our use of language evolves and changes within its mediums of expression.

Verbally, people can have entire conversations without using more than one hundred or less real words. Comedians do skits about this truth all the time. Ask Jeff Foxworthy.

We use verbal shorthand and probably always have used it. Hmm, um, ah, oh, huh, etc. are all part of the lexicon of communication’s shortcuts. Body language falls into a sister category of communications. Recognize the pattern here?

If you follow Foxworthy, you’ll know many of  the Phrase-Turned-Word combinations which complete a conversation which uses only one real sentence and the rest filled with PTW combos.

PTW’s, such as “yantu”, “j’eatyet”, and of course, “y’all” all get used on a regular basis, and not just as Redneck words used in the South. Common use words like “gonna” or “whatya” can be heard anywhere on any day. These “words” are comfortable and easily transfer from one region to the next. That reason alone might be why the word “ain’t” could never be successfully stomped out of use and was finally added to the dictionary.

Humans redefine and create new language each day. We do it for convenience’s sake, for jargon needs, and just to bug other people. “Bug” See what I mean. The old ‘50’s-‘60’s word still gets used and understood so many years after its creative definition shift.

We use emoticons to express emotions without having to verbally define them, a visual cue to our body language when line of sight is impossible. Graphic display of emotions serves the same purpose; expression without words.

Writers must use words to create mood, express characters’ emotions, etc. Today’s technological shorthand both encourages expression and redefines its use. The quality that disturbs some writers like me, however, is whether its use will soon disrupt an individual’s ability to express herself in words instead of graphics.

I’d like to know how others feel about the rampant use of verbal shorthand across today’s world. It brings us together, allows one to say much in a small space, and affords quick communications, but does it add to our lives anything other than speed? What is its intrinsic value? Will it be decipherable a century from now?

You tell me. Until next time,

A bientot,