As I listened to Jimmy Hoffa, Jr. tell politicians who don’t put workers back to work to go to hell, I thought to myself, well good for him. Its about time someone said what all of the out-of-work Americans were thinking. But, after listening to the commentators on CNN, I realized I may not have understood his message. Which got me to thinking about words. They are so easily misunderstood and misused. Dropping off my son, I saw the school’s marquee proclaim that intolerance of any kind is grounds for expulsion. So where to lactose intolerant kids go to school?

My son told me that many deaf people think in images. I’d never heard that. I have often thought about how I thought. The sequence of thought; the way my brain works  compared to say “normal” thinkers. Would I be a completely different person if I thought in images? I think that I think in words.  Am I naive? Am I simplistic? Do I over-think things?

Not to harp on the topic of politics, but during the 2008 elections, a big poll amongst my Facebook friends was the Political Compass quiz.
People were commenting on how surprised they were with their own personal results being either more right or more left than they’d thought. They also noted how close McCain and Obama actually were on the compass. Don’t trust that quiz? There’s also another over at Go To Quiz so you can compare the tests.
What I wonder is: are we actually understanding the meaning of the speaker’s words?
Part of the popularity of the internet is the ability to connect with like-minded people. We love putting in our two cents. The acronym “IMO” wouldn’t be a popular, easily recognized phrase if we didn’t care about the opinions of others and how they compare to our own. But, 2 cents is all we want. Mike Godwin pointed out, in the widely understood theorem ‘The Godwin Effect’: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 100 percent.” Meaning whenever the debate gets too long, the  quality of the words deteriorates to mud slinging. Isn’t the fallacy of association in forums mirroring the way we interact with each other in general?
The problem, I think, is that people debate to sway their opponent over to their side, and the other person is doing the same. There is rarely any attempt to “hear” what the other person is saying. Ultimately, both sides are frustrated and it finally ends when someone throws in the towel by invoking the name of Hitler (i.e. The Godwin Effect).
Family therapists have been teaching couples how to affectively argue with each other by advising us not to make it personal. Argue your point but don’t hit below the belt with statements like, “well you’re too stupid to realize I’m right.”
In the end, I guess its not that we misunderstand, but we fail to listen.

NOTE: This is day No. 9 toward keeping my commitment to post once a day. Have you joined yet?

Enhanced by Zemanta