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How do you communicate differently online than in person, if at all? How do you communicate emotion and intent in a purely written medium?

theDigeratiI don’t tweet, but for a quick response or tally of opinion, I can see its usefulness. Quite honestly, it’s a matter of time. There are so many forums on which to express opinion that one could spend whole days doing nothing else.

While I am deeply suspicious of how much information is collected through Facebook, it is my favorite method of exchanging information online, and checking in with people I know, from family and close friends, to people whom I’ve met and liked (personally).

When I write a response, other than “Great photo,” I spend time doing it and carefully select words that best express what I want to say. There are so many choices of words, and great online dictionaries and thesauruses to help out. (I like dictionary.com in particular because it’s so easy to switch from dictionary to thesaurus, and also to read about the origin of words and their changing usage in English. They have neat activities too to increase vocabulary.) Words, in themselves, are fascinating.

The other thing that informs my responses is knowing the people I’m conversing with. Knowing their point of view, their personalities, likes and dislikes, maybe even insecurities, financial situation, etc. helps me to know how best to respond to them, and what might make them feel good about what’s most important to them. I am rarely critical in a Facebook response, unless someone’s asking me which of two or three things I prefer.Whatdoesthatmean

Playing with words and realizing how they can have such different connotations and subtle intonations, I take time writing some responses, and proofreading for grammar, repetition, meaning and effect. How often we use one word repeatedly when there are so many other possibilities. We “Like” on Facebook, but what does that mean?

  • acclaim
  • admire
  • applaud
  • appreciate
  • approbate
  • be big on
  • commend
  • countenance
  • esteem
  • face it
  • favor
  • go along with
  • grin and bear it
  • handle
  • approve
  • live with
  • praise
  • put up with
  • regard highly
  • respect
  • roll with punches
  • string along with
  • take up on
  • think highly of

So the next time you “Like” a post, a dress, a picture, an opinion — what do you mean? Do you “think highly of” it, or do you “put up with” it? Do you “appreciate” it, or “grin and bear” it? Word selection can make a big difference in what you really want to convey to another person.