Arment Dietrich

The Mars and Venus Guide of Online Communication

By: Arment Dietrich | July 13, 2011 | 
144

Warning: This post is loaded with rash generalizations and stereotypes. Just to tick you off (John Falchetto). And it’s written by Lisa Gerber.

My husband was telling me a story the other day and I, having the curious mind of the female gender, inquired for further detail. He, of course, was unable to provide the requested detail. His response? “I don’t know. Dudes don’t ask that.”

I should know better than to ask for more detail. It’s no secret that men communicate differently than women.

I am a very big fan of language. When Steve Martin told me that those French have a different word for everything, I knew I wanted to learn them all.

I’ve been thinking about how we use language to express ourselves online. I’ll admit to straddling the fence here, on whether or not I’m happy to see how our language is evolving. For example, they added LMAO and Unfriend to the New Oxford American Dictionary?

Language evolves for a number of reasons; one of them being out of cultural circumstance. The instantaneous and very constraining way we now communicate online has clearly influenced this. Will it stay separate from the spoken and written word? The French still have a literary tense used in literature and not spoken language. Will we see a similar situation occur?

I also think a lot about how men and women use language on the online media differently. So let’s get back to the fun and my purely unscientific, downright sexist perspective:

Women like to accessorize their language.

  • Exclamation points!!!!: Exclamation points emphasize our excitement, amazement and enthusiasm. Unlike all caps, they do not mean we are angry. Dudes don’t get excited so they don’t use them.
  • The smiley face: The smiley face indicates that you are joking, or are being sarcastic so “regardless of what precedes that smiley face, I’m not mad.” Dudes don’t feel the need to tell you that. They aren’t worried that you are thinking they are mad at you.
  • Emoticons: Here at the Spin Sucks Global Domination headquarters, we spend a lot of time staring at our screens cracking ourselves up over the various Skype emoticons. We like the Ninja, and the dancing guy, and the beating heart. Dudes don’t use emoticons. Unless it’s the puking one.

Are we being more expressive or are we being lazy? Are we pushing the language to it’s limits and using accessories (which we are so good at) or are we not maximizing the words that have been provided to us, and using them to their fullest potential?

On the other hand, men seem to prefer the basics.

  • Bodies, body parts, and bodily functions. Why use words, when you can share your feelings in a simple photo of a body part? (I know, I’m sorry, I can’t shut up about that).

We asked our Facebook community if they have self-imposed rules for their casual online communication.

Jenn Whinnem made me most proud:

“If I can’t convey the point through words alone, I’m not trying hard enough.”

In all fairness, she didn’t want to sound too haughty, she added that she does cuss like a sailor.

Erica Allison said she needed to enter the 12-step program to stop using them!!!!

Laura Petrolino summed it all up pretty handily for me:

“I’m a very expressive talker in person, so without the exclamation marks, I feel incomplete and like a boring version of myself. Frankly…if you are going to work with me, you are going to work with my exclamation points. If you don’t like them you are more than welcome to go find some boring semi-colon dude to consult with. The. End.”

Do you have rules for how you express yourself online?

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144 Comments on "The Mars and Venus Guide of Online Communication"

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johnfalchetto
5 years 16 days ago

I didn’t even know there were dancing Ninjas with a beating heart on Skype.

Is it a gender thing?

I express myself the same way I do offline. There is a big debate about using F-bombs and swearing online, well I don’t offline so why should I do it online.

jennwhinnem makes a great point, if we need to add photos, emoticons, F-bombs to get our point across what does it say about our vocabulary?

Saying that dudes are simple people, words are complicated enough without adding another layer of complexity to the message.

aakomas
aakomas
5 years 16 days ago

@sydcon_mktg Hey Jenn! Happy Wednesday to you.

sydcon_mktg
sydcon_mktg
5 years 16 days ago

@aakomas Hey Amy!! And Happy Wednesday to you…gorgeous day out here in the burbs! Thanks for the RT!

MSchechter
MSchechter
5 years 16 days ago
Well… clearly I communicate like a woman!! 🙂 I tend to throw words around carelessly, something I’m learning to control better, but still just always been the way I tend to use language. I’m definitely of a smaller subset (as most people like to hear nice things said nicely), but I always care more about the intent of what someone’s trying to say (be it a man with a body part or a lady with an emoticon) and often think that this the part that too many people ignore. As for the verbal accessories, I just think that is a… Read more »
aakomas
aakomas
5 years 16 days ago

@sydcon_mktg You’re welcome. You know, if those were a crime, I’d be guilty as charged. LOL!

sydcon_mktg
5 years 16 days ago

LOL!! Love it! As you can see, I love my exclamation points!! And, emoticons too!! If ericamallison finds a good 12 step program, sign me up too!

sydcon_mktg
sydcon_mktg
5 years 16 days ago

@aakomas Haha, me too! They mentioned a 12 step program, sign me up! ;p

aakomas
aakomas
5 years 16 days ago

@sydcon_mktg I know! Not sure they can cure it though.

jennwhinnem
jennwhinnem
5 years 16 days ago

Oh man I’m blushing so hard at work!

Lisa Gerber
5 years 16 days ago

@johnfalchetto the Ninja is hilarious. we laugh every time we use him.

When I say dudes are simple, I mean it in the kindest way. I love dudes, I really do!! Makes me think of the classic scenario – when you ask a dude what he’s thinking. Like he’s analyzing our conversation which I’m sure that he is, but he says that he’s thinking about the bug on the dashboard. And that’s really what he’s thinking about!!!

Lisa Gerber
5 years 16 days ago

@MSchechter I love it and need a sarcasm font. now.

3HatsComm
5 years 16 days ago

@johnfalchetto jennwhinnem I’m not sure women always add more complexity to the messages any more or less than men do. Basic communication is that it’s not a conduit, it’s not some funnel… the audience doesn’t always perceive and understand what you say exactly as you meant it. Interpretation, meaning is in the mind of the reader, the viewer. So that 😉 wink in my tweet or comment lets someone know that it was my attempt at a bit of humor, show my tone that they can’t hear online, or see that glass of wine in my hand.

Lisa Gerber
5 years 16 days ago

@sydcon_mktg ericamallison I love them too!!! They add a layer of expression. now @livefyre needs to create emoticons!

3HatsComm
5 years 16 days ago
<!– p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; line-height: 18.0px; font: 12.0px Arial; color: #242424} –> <p>I don’t use Skype much, can’t say. I’ll use an emoticon here and there – to show tone and humor, to <span id=”user_7″ class=”namespace lf” uid=”_u3698@livefyre.com” user_name=”MSchechter” screen_name=”MSchechter” provider=”lf” ns=”true”>MSchechter<label ns=”true”>.</label></span>&nbsp;HEH for a sarcasm font – but am fairly stingy with my exclamations. I try to say what I want in words, and if pressed for time/space will cheat and ‘accessorize’ – love that – with acronyms. Depending on my general mood, like <span id=”user_6″ class=”namespace lf” uid=”_u6297@livefyre.com” user_name=”jennwhinnem” screen_name=”jennwhinnem” provider=”lf” ns=”true”>jennwhinnem<label ns=”true”>.</label></span>&nbsp; cursing like… Read more »
rustyspeidel
rustyspeidel
5 years 16 days ago

I have one rule: make sure whatever I say is clear, concise, and doesn’t suck.

MSchechter
MSchechter
5 years 16 days ago

@rustyspeidel Totally runs counter to instincts to keep my thoughts muddy, long-winded and sucky…

jennwhinnem
jennwhinnem
5 years 16 days ago
lisagerber I appreciate you prefacing everything about being sexist..because it helped me get the “oh it’s HUMOR!” vibe. Otherwise I saw the title and came rushing in to yell about gender BS. So, I’m calmer now, and I’ve also recovered from having been outed as an uptight, straight-laced cusser. Six years ago, when I started my communications career, I was really taken aback when I would get business emails from colleagues that said LOL and 🙂 in them. How on earth was that professional? Given how expressive and off-color I can be, most people that knew me were shocked that… Read more »
jennwhinnem
jennwhinnem
5 years 16 days ago

@johnfalchetto I have to admit, it’s the standard I hold myself to…but I fall short of it pretty frequently.

Sean McGinnis
5 years 16 days ago

@MSchechter Me too Michael. I so desperately want that to account for my amazing success in online communications, but I’m pretty sure it just means I’m a closet homosexual. </sarcasm> See how easy that was? 😉

Sean McGinnis
5 years 16 days ago

@MSchechter Damn it! Livefyre edited out my Sarcasm font! LOL < / sarcasm >

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 16 days ago

@jennwhinnem lisagerber LOL!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 16 days ago

@MSchechter You know who else communicates like a woman? dannybrown and thesaleslion

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 16 days ago

@Lisa Gerber Fart.

jennwhinnem
jennwhinnem
5 years 16 days ago

@johnfalchetto I’m so embarrassed! ha ha

Sean McGinnis
5 years 16 days ago

@ginidietrich @MSchechter dannybrown thesaleslion Pretty good company there!

Leaves me with one very important question…. who communicates via typo?

MSchechter
MSchechter
5 years 16 days ago

@Sean McGinnis Yeah, I’ve tried the HTML sarcasm… only works amongst us geeks…

MSchechter
MSchechter
5 years 16 days ago

@ginidietrich just always kind of assumed @dannybrown was a woman, you know… with the skirts and all…

3HatsComm
5 years 16 days ago

@jennwhinnem lisagerber What’s wrong with acronyms?! I’m more offended by lack of punctuation, capitalization, ignoring the spellcheck feature – which surely all email clients have – than I am a little of the texting slang. Now emails riddled with it, uh no.

3HatsComm
5 years 16 days ago

@Sean McGinnis @ginidietrich @MSchechter dannybrown Good company and you know what, thesaleslion does use a lot of emoticons.

DannyBrown
5 years 16 days ago

@Sean McGinnis @ginidietrich @MSchechter thesaleslion You’re all off your head.

TheJackB
5 years 16 days ago

Sounds like it is time to share Mark Gungor’s bit about how our brains work Men’s Brain Women’s Brain http://youtu.be/0BxckAMaTDc

MSchechter
MSchechter
5 years 16 days ago

Did anyone else imagine @DannyBrown crying into his purse after typing this? Just me?

Sean McGinnis
5 years 16 days ago

@ginidietrich @Lisa Gerber Bwahahaha – In e-mail, all I saw was “Gerber Fart. “

Lisa Gerber
5 years 16 days ago

@Sean McGinnis@ginidietrich

EW!!! don’t even type that! especially right next to my name. Gini is pushing my buttons. She knows I hate that word.

Lisa Gerber
5 years 16 days ago

@DannyBrown definitely uses the smiley face in his comments. I can say that much. He also wears skirts. @Sean McGinnis @ginidietrich @MSchechter

Lisa Gerber
5 years 16 days ago

@3HatsComm ohhh, that would have been a good quote to include within the post. aww. 🙂 (oops – had to use a smiley face.)

Lisa Gerber
5 years 16 days ago

@MSchechter @rustyspeidel but runs pro to my argument that dudes keep it simple.

ShakirahDawud
5 years 16 days ago

“The smiley face: The smiley face indicates that you are joking, or are being sarcastic so “regardless of what precedes that smiley face, I’m not mad.” Dudes don’t feel the need to tell you that. They aren’t worried that you are thinking they are mad at you.”

Seriously, when an acquaintance of a male gender uses emoticons in one-on-one communications like e-mail, I start getting suspicious, lol!

And as for exclamation points, I’m the addict described in this old post: http://deliberateink.com/response-to-an-exclamation-point-addict/

Lisa Gerber
5 years 16 days ago

@jennwhinnem Sandwich LIMS?

EricaAllison
5 years 16 days ago

@Lisa Gerber @sydcon_mktg ericamallison @livefyre I need serious help…for my ellipses. Oh, how I love them. They are my written “uhm” (hear that, extremelyavg ? ).

Actually, like @jennwhinnem said, the smiley faces and the LOL bug me too, but I’ve come to accept them and God forbid, even use them.

My husband hates it when I cuss, says it beneath me. Sometimes, I really like to be down there, don’t you? Not that I do it in front of the kids…rarely, anyway.

EricaAllison
5 years 16 days ago

@ginidietrich @Lisa Gerber Now *that’s* LOL funny!!!!! 🙂

Yael Rozencwajg
5 years 16 days ago

!!!

Yael Rozencwajg
5 years 16 days ago

!!! @Lisa Gerber @ginidietrich

Lisa Gerber
5 years 16 days ago

@TheJackB EXACTLY!! and when you ask a dude what he’s thinking about? and he says nothing? he really really means it.

Lisa Gerber
5 years 16 days ago

@Yael Rozencwajg @ginidietrich 🙂

Sean McGinnis
5 years 16 days ago

@Lisa Gerber @ginidietrich Hahah! This is going downhill fast…..

Sean McGinnis
5 years 16 days ago

@EricaAllison @Lisa Gerber @sydcon_mktg ericamallison @livefyre extremelyavg @jennwhinnem I’m with you Erica…..

MSchechter
MSchechter
5 years 16 days ago

@Lisa Gerber I tend to think you are on to something here… When it comes to communication guys tend to care more about the destination, gals, the journey. It’s a generalization, but for the most part, it holds true…

johnfalchetto
5 years 16 days ago

@Lisa Gerber @Yael Rozencwajg Don’t start@ginidietrich

johnfalchetto
5 years 16 days ago

@3HatsComm Acronyms are fine, I agree incorrect grammar and spelling is much worse @jennwhinnem lisagerber

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