posted on Jun, 9 2006 @ 03:58 PM
A lot of people I've come across find the smileys to be juvenile or silly, but I think they're absolutely necessary in this medium. Emotion is the
essence of what body language conveys, and while the smileys may be crude over-simplifications, one has to make do with what's available.
As far as 'hiding behind the cyber fence' as you put it, it obviously varies widely depending on the individual. I have a much easier time
communicating in this medium, and reaching a good understanding with people. In real life, people tend to be intimidated by my size, and as a result
I have to be overly super-nice to everyone to keep from putting people off.
People are much more keen on using fightin' words on the internet than in real life. Calling someone a liar, or anti-American, or a Nazi - in real
life them's fightin' words. Here, it's just a minor annoyance, which is both good and bad. It's good, for the obvious reason that no physical
violence results. But it's bad in that people seem more willing to 'go there' at the drop of a hat, which always seems to curtail intelligent
It's a mixed bag, like everything in life, and just as in the real world, it's what you make of it. There are advantages, and disadvantages, and
people owe it to themselves to maximize the former and minimize the latter to the greatest extent possible.
One more note: generally speaking, written communication is more in-depth, so that's a plus. With more time to explore tangents, and being able to
do so without losing the thrust of the main point, I find it much easier to sustain complex arguments and explore nuanced issues in this medium.