Does a universal language exist? The ancients had pictographs, we have emojis!

“…emojis are universal in the strictest sense. Emojis have no gender, no race and no agenda.” – Liam Stack is quoted in the NY Times article “Emoji Bible Translates Scripture Into Smileys”

Here’s a new word: “stream cheating”. This is when you can’t wait for your significant other to stream your favorite TV show.

It has also been dubbed by New York Magazine as “Netflix Adultery”. A Harris Interactive survey on behalf of Netflix said that 51% of those in a relationship would do just that. And gasp, some revealed that they would even watch it a second time and pretend they haven’t seen it.

Quote of the Week

Posted: January 31, 2017 in Quotes
Tags: , ,

“It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.” – Boyz to Men

The winter 2016 issue of Urban Agenda Magazine had a very interesting article about the then newly completed “Oculus” at Ground Zero. Built in stages, it is NYC’s newest transportation hub, a fact you can really miss if you walk its many confusing passageways. Yes they all lead to the many subway connections (sorry no free transfers) and the NY/NJ Path train but it lacks any of the feel of a train station or airport. White and sterile, when I first visited it I nick named it an inverted whale skeleton. Well the article is this magazine “Inspiration In the Big Apple” goes further with colorful and descriptive phrasing.

The article’s author, Ellen Gilbert gives a good, many paragraph background on the architect Santiago Calarava, but it’s the quotes that produce the phrases that tickled my writer’s funny bone.

Here are some outtakes:

Amy Plitt, writer for nycurbed.com, says “sure to be Instagram catnip” because of its photogenic unique design.

Joan Gonchar, writer for Architectural Digest,is quoted as saying, “this subterranean drama doesn’t translate into coherence above ground.” And goes on to state, “the building which has been likened to everything from a stegosaurus to a porcupine to a Thanksgiving turkey carcass, is ill at ease on its site.”

Calavera is also the architect for the replacement at Ground Zero of the historic St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church that was destroyed on 9/11. Archbishop Demetrios, the primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, said in this article that he hoped the nondenominational bereavement center in the church would “project something that will open a window to eternity.”

Whether “catnip” or a “window to eternity”, it’s always refreshing to read an article that has fun with words.

 

“If you open your heart to patriotism then there is no room for prejudice” – President Donald J Trump, Inaugural address

Until the advent of the telephone, communication was face-to-face (yes, there were letters, telegraph, smoke signals, drums, but here we are covering daily communications between regular people). It was one human being using spoken words to be received by another human’s ears. The important matters of businesses, town councils, and governments took place in meetings, where one not only received information but could also see the emotional state of the person speaking. The telephone changed that somewhat especially when the speakerphone (and later the video camera) was invented. However, people still gathered together in real time and space to discuss matters of importance. Then came text messaging and the internet.

Yes, live meetings became the bane of existence for business people. These meetings got the reputation of time wasters, where you were trapped in a room accomplishing little after spending a good chunk of time getting there. So with the creation of electronic devices accessed through high-speed connections, one can be anywhere on the planet and still participate. Cool, right? That’s if there is a video feed to the equation. Most of the time, people just “text” or “post”. So what you get, in essence, is an electronic letter to read which can be misinterpreted in its meaning. Sorry, but “e-moticons” do not count. As humans we need face-to-face communication not only to discern the speaker’s emotional state but also to be able to immediately ask a question to clarify something confusing.

A prime example of how this faceless communication not occurring in real time can go wrong, was recently when President-elect Trump sent his infamous tweet with the word “Nazi” in it. He knew why he was using that to backup a point of his but did anyone other than historians and Baby Boomers get what he was referring to? No. And since tweeting isn’t “real time” even if someone responded to his tweet asking for clarification, he didn’t have the time to send out another tweet to do so. That hardly happens in real time meetings and we saw this during the press conference when a reporter brought it up and Trump went on to explain himself. Bingo, the entire watching universe understood.

I’m not saying that tweeting or texting should be avoided. We can’t go back to the days before these devices and programs were available. However, like we all learned with the e-mail universe, once you hit the send button it’s out there for better or worse. With faceless communications, we all need to try very hard not to say things in a confusing manner or make references that only a certain portion of the population gets (hmm, like telling an in joke that can backfire on you when most of the listeners don’t get it!) It’s also great that now our chief executive can communicate instantly with the masses. Very few previous Presidents had either the technology or the skill to use it as he does.

Meetings have become the dinosaur of the 21st century and Twitter and Facebook have taken its place. It doesn’t matter if you are the President of the United States, or a 12 year old communicating with her best friend, what you say can become a disastrous opportunity to be misunderstood. Keep the message simple, avoid jargon or historical/political references, and you should be on safer ground as a 21st century communicator.

On Jan 11 we saw on a national scale how untrue words, i.e. “Fake News” can hurt. No, president-elect Trump didn’t reveal whether the story about him hurt him psychologically, but it did create a hostile attitude towards CNN, took time away from the important items of the press conference, and kept people still wondering about the truth.

We are all guilty of spreading “Fake News” in the form of gossip. And sometimes even “good news” or honest words, when revealed at the wrong time, can have a detrimental affect on the listener.

Yesterday morning I found it ironic that a story from the Gospel of St. Mark (Mark 1:40-45) dealt with this very topic. In the Catholic Church’s Mass, readings go in a 3 year cycle and today’s was selected long before the Trump incident occurred. In this reading we have Jesus, teacher and healer, healing a leper and asking him to tell no one about how he was cured. The leper, however, delighted that he has been cured tells EVERYONE he meets! Yes, good news but its affect on Jesus’ ministry is that he now is mobbed everywhere he goes by people who want to be cured. Our priest used this as a teaching point in his homily: Whether good or fake news, our responsibility in using our gift of language is to take care in what we say and when we say it.

Words matter not only in their content but also in their timing and to whom we speak them.