Things I’ve Learned, self-discovery edition

The past seven days have included some serious thought about my attitude and my communication skills. A lot of what I learned wasn’t so much news as it was a reminder of things I’d let slip.

1. I should not engage in Internet discussion. I learned long ago that tone does not translate into email or online text, especially if the reader hasn’t met me and can’t imagine my delivery of the lines. They will not emphasize the words I would. They will not detect sarcasm or a teasing tone. They won’t understand when I am quite serious, either. Most times, I type a heated reply to items I find online, then delete them. But recently I forgot that. When reactions weren’t what I expected, I had to remind myself why.

2. Sometimes, when people say stuff that is incorrect, they don’t care if it is incorrect. If I know the correct fact/spelling/story/answer, it doesn’t matter. Offering it won’t make them glad. It will annoy them. It might make them feel stupid. I need to learn to let people guess incorrectly and make mistakes, even if, when placed in the same situation myself, I would prefer to have someone correct me. I much prefer to be corrected than to make incorrect assertions, but I am often in the minority. [Vaguely related aside: A co-worker/friend once said that I was the one person she knew who would seek out an answer instead of just musing. She said that most people would say, “I wonder how that happens…” then move on about their day without giving something a second thought (maybe they observed condensation or a double rainbow or a person hiccuping). But I would have to find out the answer, read about the process, and be able to report back to anyone who was with me when I made the observation. She said seemed to like that about me, but I know that not all people do. I’m learning to keep my curiosity in check, or at least keep it to myself. Luckily I have friends and a partner who share my curiosity, so I can always save my fact-gathering for them.]

3. I spend too much time online. I deactivated my Facebook account this week. I needed a break again. I’m seriously considering going Internet-free for a day or two. I used to go cell-phone free one day a month; it was wonderful. Now that I have a smartphone, I’m always connected. Sure, I can do without social media (though it’s the main way I get news about the world and even about my family). But can I go without Google searches (see #2), email, Google maps & directions, Yelp business reviews, and http://www.nytimes.com? I used to use local maps and phone books, but I don’t have those anymore. I still think it’s possible if I plan ahead–something that most of us don’t do anymore now that we can use the Internet to plan as we go. I’d have to bank some blog entries too, of course. Stay tuned for more on this.

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