People Versus Their Writing

I just spoke to somebody on Skype whom I only knew through blogging and I have to say: you can never really have a good understanding of a person based only on reading their texts. Even if you read tons of their texts. People are not their writing. They are a lot more.

This is why if you meet somebody at an online dating site, the best thing to do is not to drag it out trying to “get to know each other” but just to schedule a real date immediately.

P.S. It was great meeting you, dear Z. :-)

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22 comments on “People Versus Their Writing

  1. Good that you too met up.

    You really can’t know someone through their writing, and mostly, I think because we can’t help but project our own experiences and knowledge (or lack of it) and maybe even our personality into the writing to a certain degree. The thing with writing is that it’s necessarily very abstract.

    Personally, I make videos nowadays, which I find to be a good way to get a track on what I’m thinking. It’s automatic speaking….the equivalent of automatic writing, but faster. This is really good therapy for me, too, because I get to perceive my ideas more clearly when I amplify them through a visual form. I find that using text, the ideas quickly seem to become obscured by others’ differing interpretations. But if I look at a video, I can say, “Ah, yes, I can tell by my tone and expression at that point, what exactly I intended to mean.”

    This makes me less bewildered about other people’s often odd-seeming ideas about what I mean — which I was often subject to as a hazard of being a migrant and psychologically uprooted, hence disturbed.

    • Your videos are good. The only video of myself that I made, though, is not very indicative of anything. I look kind of stupid with weird teeth in it. Maybe it’s because it was the very first try, I don’t know.

      • I have weird teeth. It’s part of my unique charm. The roots of the front two teeth are crossed over under the gum. Consequently, they are uneven.

        What might have bothered me in my younger days, if I had enough awareness (which I generally didn’t), has an even more different meaning nowadays. I can appreciate the aesthetic of a certain degree of irregularity. That seems to fit in very well with the whole shamanistic argument as well as with a shamanistic disposition, which I have.

      • Please don;t mind my teeth obsession. It’s a consequence of being persecuted by horrible Soviet dentists in childhood. I often have nightmares where my teeth crumble or fall out, for example.

      • That’s okay. My point is you should just make videos if you want to. I suspect many women may not wish to do so for fear of being attacked by trolls, but I haven’t been attacked by too many yet.

      • Trolls are stupid. I spelled out several times what they could say to hurt my feelings. But they never manage to say what works. Instead, they project their own fears onto me: “You are ugly! You are fat!”

        Poor idiots who can’t even come up with a working insult.

      • Yeah, trolls are rather dumb, because they work with very general principles and can’t hone in on specifics. There are also some people I used to associate with on the Internet, who are trollish, because I kept explaining to them who I was and what I thought, but they could never get a mental lock on it. I was always what they needed me to be. I figured this out in due course. It was hard for me to see at first, because really, who is that stupid that they would constantly sabotage communication for some narrow purpose?

      • I suspect my teeth cross-over thing may have occurred when I still had my baby teeth and I hung upside down on some jungle gym bars and then let go by mistake. I smashed my mouth into the concrete directly underneath me. Ouch. My father had taken us kids there prior to visiting my mother at the maternity hospital during opening hours, which were later.

      • “persecuted by horrible Soviet dentists in childhood. I often have nightmares where my teeth crumble or fall out, for example”

        I’m pretty sure that teeth falling out is one of the more common dreams (which is weird now that I think about it). Of course your soviet dental experiences may make them more common or vivid than is the norm.

        I had a strong dentist phobia for years caused by a single very unsympathetic/incompetent (once started drilling the wrong tooth) practitioner in my childhood. After a particular crisis* a few years ago I’m mostly over it….. mostly.

        *a strong enough crisis can prompt me to discard a phobia

      • I hate these dreams about teeth falling out.
        For me I think they mean that I am unable to show my aggression, to “bite”, I feel defenseless, or I am afraid to become defenseless.
        What I haven’t figured out is what the dreams about losing my shoes mean.

  2. Of course, for most of our history, people had to communicate in writing most of the time unless they were close neighbors. I confess that I do not like videos and do not often watch them. I prefer text, since I can edit when necessary, and people do bnot expect me to read their ‘body language’ (whatever that is) when I am reading their letters or emails.

    The fact that letters were central for many centuries means we have a real treasure trove of information about different periods of time in the past. Such information will likely not exist about our time, since digital recording apparently does not last as long as paper letters.

    I do like talking on the phone, since people are obliged to use language and not expect me to read things into gestures, etc. that I rarely understand. Intonations of voice are much easier to understand than gestures, for me at least.

  3. ” People are not their writing. They are a lot more.”

    If you don’t mind me asking, what about the autism thing? I was under the impression that most folks on the spectrum have problems processing things like body language and intonation and…. any other paralinguistic features, especially those that don’t dovetail the linguistic message

    I would assume that a professor literature might not have that (or have other qualities that balance or cancel it out) but now that I think about it I’m curious about the particulars in your case.

  4. “This is why if you meet somebody at an online dating site, the best thing to do is not to drag it out trying to “get to know each other” but just to schedule a real date immediately.”

    I totally agree. However, because people communicate differently when they write, you discover a side of them that they don’t necessarily convey when they talk. They might be a bit shy, or the right moment doesn’t come up to discuss something, or they don’t want to give the right/wrong impression, so verbal communication is ‘limited’.

    I have found that when people write, they are of course more coherent because they have more time to put together their thoughts. But they talk about different things, go deeper, analyse more. They might be wittier too, appear more learned, aspirational even.

    When you meet, it can be a terrible disappointment. Some people are best kept for written communication.

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