Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Playing "Telephone" - or The Downside of the Internet & Rumor-Mongering

Sorry, gang, today's post is a little off-topic and a tad reflective and philosophical. It's also personal, as it announces a change in my status in the world of independent publishing. I promise to get back to the business at hand instantly in my next post if you'll indulge me briefly -- and my sincerest thanks!

I come from a big family - 8 kids (I'm the oldest), 36 first cousins on my mother's side, a dozen more on my dad's, multitudes of second cousins in my age group, an extended family of friends who all seemed to live and dine at our house on a regular basis, and parents who never missed an opportunity to try to teach us "lessons". To say that our dinner table was a crowded place every evening would be an understatement. To tell you it was noisy, boistrous, silly - and sometimes that my father, who worked all day preferred it quiet - would no doubt be an understatement.

To achieve this end (and the end of teaching all of us lessons ;-)), he'd often start a couple of games with us. The first one was "skunk." To play it, we'd all have to shut up, and the first one who talk was...LOL, well, "smelly."

I'm not sure how quiet a game that really was, since it resulted in a fair amount of giggles and laughter since with a minimum of 8 young children at the table trying not to talk...*chuckle* But at least it stopped the arguing I'm sure we did prior to the game.

The other game was Telephone.

I don't know how many of you played this as kids, but my dad liked to get us through supper to dessert, then before letting the bunch of us excuse ourselves, he'd lean over to the right or left and whisper some sentence or phrase into the ear of whichever kid sat there and tell them to pass it on. The idea was to see if the message came back to him in the same shape it started out in.

You guessed it; by accident or design, by the time the message made its way through the 10-15 people (most of them kids) seated at that dinner table it was never in the same wording as it started out.

My father's intent was to teach us how easily people misconstrue, misunderstand or flat out mis-speak whispers, even if that whisper is as small as a single word.

Whispers on the Internet are even more prone to misunderstanding than whispers around the dinner table. Why? Because there are so many more people with such a huge variety of backgrounds, histories, cultures, emotional constitutions, languages, understandings, etc., that to expect everyone to interpret every single word in exactly the same way is dangerous. Politically we see that every day; in the written word it's easy to leave out a word accidentally, misspell something crucial, use slang inappropriately even in the multitudes of countries that claim English as a native language.

As a writer, a communicator, it is always my hope to present my work - whatever that work is - clearly.

Oh, and for anyone who's wondering...I have indeed resigned from Triskelion Publishing and am no longer affiliated with them. Why? After 3 years, it is very simply time to pursue and forward my own career interests elsewhere. And before you ask, yes, I'm wonderful with this decision. *big smile* It's a very free feeling not to have to try to figure out what needs to be taken care of first and what I didn't accomplish that was important during a day. Now...if anyone who'd like to make a rumor out of this would just cut it out and let us all get on with our previously scheduled programs...

Thanks!!! *big grin*


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