B.C. Technology

>> Thursday, November 5, 2009

I'm playing with this idea which, at the moment, I rather like. It's a comparison. Almost a metaphor, but not quite. Kinda. But it just might work.

I've been part of the generation that I consider the 'between tech' generation; I've known a life where none of my friends had heard of computers, and I've personally participated in the relationship changes from telephone and letter to email and chat. I've traveled from dos-based word-processor-written mailbox mail to two-day-delivery email to bulletin board text-only forums to stand-alone instant messengers to Facebook. I've read a fair number of research articles over the last decade and more about the detriments of online communication, some more extreme than others. I'm attending an entirely online college, and can definitely acknowledge that there's a down-side to the lack of face-to-face interaction.

Here's a common perspective: assuming that you don't use a webcam or computer phone software, which I personally don't (yet), internet communication does not involve body language or tone of voice. Therefore, there's a great deal of potential for misunderstanding someone's intentions. In the case that context isn't clear, the interpretation of an email or a blog post, or even a Facebook status comment, is left up to the reader's mood and knowledge of the person making the comment. This is especially true if the writer is intending to joke around, or if there's a complicated simile or metaphor going on.

I'll simplify and summarize this idea as a statement of fact, just for kicks.

Text relationships, currently online communication, (I'm not counting the eras of letter-writing, in which most cases folks would know one another before writing, and perhaps occasionally phone) does not involve verbal communication or body language, and therefore is interpreted by the reader based on written context, reader's mood (whether or not they're inclined to take offense), and how well the reader personally knows the writer.

So here's where the comparison comes in. The idea of a completely textual relationship, sound-free and lacking non-verbal communication, is not new with technology. In fact, it is incredibly old... about 2000 years, older if you count the period of silence prior to Christ. If that text communication is comparable to a modern text communication, then it would follow that the same conditions exist: context, my mood, and how well I know God are all I have to go on when I read the Bible and try to understand what God meant when He wrote it.

I know that I've heard God speak to me, in words, in my head, so there's the verbal. Christ gave us the Holy Spirit to help us in many ways, discernment and interpretation being part of that. Perhaps the Holy Spirit brings us a subconscious understanding of the non-verbal?

But even with the verbal and the non-verbal parts I'm missing, I still need context. That's easy enough to gather by educating myself in studies and research. Then there's mood. My mood definitely affects how I hear and respond to anything with anyone, no reason that'd change reading what He wrote to me. In fact, my mood actually tends to influence that relationship on my end more than my human ones.

So the last thing, and it's the clincher, is how well I know Him. I instant messaged to one of my best friends the other day, and her response was so intensely her that I saw her posture and heard her tone of voice in my mind. Do I know God well enough that I can just see Him saying that?

I said that was the last thing, but perhaps it ought to have been the first. Because the better I know you personally, regardless of your writing or the context or my mood, the better I will know what you mean. And I'd think that understanding what God means when He's talking to me is really my bottom line. So I have to ask myself, how well do I know Him? And what can I do to know more?


John Munzer November 9, 2009 at 12:48 AM  

I like it. I've often been misunderstood for want of an emoticon... it's interesting to consider whether the same thing can happen even to God. :)

Liz December 11, 2009 at 8:53 PM  

OOooo. I like the comparison. It's really engaging, meaning it's making me ponder. I like ideas that do that. And I like to ponder how I relate to God and how He relates to me.

This is great! :)

About This Blog

Life is about changes; transitions from one place to another, from one purpose to another, from one being to another. They say that the person you are today is a completely different person from who you were ten years ago and who you'll be ten years from now. So far, at the age of 33, I've had four major transitions in my life which redefined who I am. Two years into the results of the most recent transition I am again - still - exploring how God is shaping me. Over the next few months I hope to review my past and set goals for the future, and embrace the next adventure of rediscovering me.

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