17 Nov 2010

communication confusion online and IRL :)

A few days back my wife, who is Swedish, said, in her fluent English, that something happened "IRL."

I had no idea what she was talking about.

So I paused dumbfounded for a few moments while I worked out from the depths of my brain that she meant "in real life."

Now IRL is a fairly common internet abbreviation. From its entry on Wikipedia:

In its use for differentiating online personal worlds from "offline" life, the term (IRL) has a much shorter history and a more unclear future, as the Internet has existed for a much shorter time.
Sociologists engaged in the study of the Internet have determined that someday, a distinction between online and real-life worlds may seem "quaint", noting that certain types of online activity, such as sexual tensions, have already made a full transition to complete legitimacy and "reality."

Interesting. However, I have never personally had anyone, ever, use IRL with me, either online or IRL. My wife and I talked about this, and we came to the conclusion that these kinds of English abbreviations - ones that I might consider more in the realm of teenagers - have been taken up in Swedish even by people like my wife and I - those boring full word types.

And this made me think of emoticons, how I also try to never, ever, ever, under the pain of death, use emoticons - smiley faces, winking faces, all that. It's a guy thing, it seems, an effort not to look too effeminate.

From YourTango.com and a post titled "Dudes Don't Emoticon:

Guys also are anti-emoticon because most of us aren't sure what they mean. While we may say "constituency" when we mean "consistency," us dudes like to think that we're straight-shooters when it comes to communication, and we're perfectly happy to admit that we have no idea what message ":p" actually sends.

This got me to thinking about intercultural communication - which is at the heart of so much of our work here at JG, working with international companies that span many, many cultures.

As easy as the internet has made communication - along with a common use of English - the waters are almost more treacherous now - age, culture, language, gender, online vs. offline.

Who knows how men of my age in, say, Malaysia use emoticons or abbreviations? How about 20-something women in Paraguay? Have dudes in Uganda have taken up IRL or its close cousin f2f?

I don't. But now I feel like I need to find out ... IRL. ;)

Nathan Hegedus

Andra bloggar om: ,

No comments: