Monday, January 2, 2012

The Keyboard is Mightier Than the Sword

Sometimes I am not funny but come across as cruel, weird, or even slightly off in the head. I get that. Words are powerful tools and the arrangement of them can be an art.
A particularly clever arrangement presented by a charismatic speaker can win political offices, stop and wage wars. A passionate monologue can bring audiences to tears. A speech riddled with the right amount of zeal and anguish can persuade the poorest of people to donate money to absolve their sins. Professional communicators have long been orating with twisted tongues, pretty prose, and vivacious vernacular to achieve position, power and notoriety.
With today’s penchant for social media, anyone can scribble a coherent sequence and make it available to the world. Some become instant internet sensations through witty banter or appealing opinions. Others will vanish into obscurity despite their best efforts to allure the masses.
Of more concern to me, is that with the social media frenzy, even by those with the most rudimentary writing skills (text speak to pen whole tweets or blog posts…oh the horror), communication skills seemed to have deteriorated. You would think that as technology has permitted a whole generation to become humanly disconnected while staying “involved” (I’m sorry but if you never leave your bedroom or mother’s basement, it doesn’t matter how much of a web sensation you are, you are still a social degenerate/hermit, written communication and literacy would improve but that does not appear to be the case.
This self-absorbed lax interaction style is now trending into business communiqué which is a whole new level of disturbing. I am guilty of dashing off one line ditty’s to my boss in response to a question, and frankly he expects it of me now. I hear him snigger from his office and/or get a humorous reply. Corporate etiquette? Not at all. I try to refrain but when the opportunity presents itself for a quip my fingers often transmit my comments before I’ve even finished thinking it.
And while my occasional blog posts, board posts, Facebook status etc may not come across as intended, I’m very careful about my corporate correspondence adhering to proper business etiquette and communication rules aside from the occasional retort to my boss who appreciates my demented sense of humor (and even then its only an infinitesimal sampling of the gibes I think up on the spur of the moment).
I, however, have seen numerous exchanges sent to multiple recipients that make me shudder at the improperness. I have recently been on the receiving end of hateful remarks that were later explained off as “trying to be funny” of which my superiors admonished the offender for. Nothing like the level of awkwardness, when I have to sit here while a department head apologizes to me for their inappropriate attempt at humor.
My whole point to this elongated diatribe is to appeal to people’s sense of respect and conscience. Please separate your social language from your business speak to avoid unsuitable corporate exchanges.
Maybe this was what those businesses foresaw when they fought against casual dress codes—the complete flaccid frame of mind of the modern employees (of which we can all be guilty even with the best of intentions.)

“Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.” ~Edgar Allen Poe.

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