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Revealed through Our Words

 
 
Roberta
 
Reply Thu 17 May, 2007 06:49 pm
You arrive at a site like this a complete unknown. Depending on the name you choose, you may reveal nothing. We start out not knowing your gender, race, ethnicity, age, etc. A complete blank slate.

Slowly you are revealed through what you say and how you say it. We may learn your opinions before we know anything else. We see how you respond to questions. Comments. Other people. We see what you choose to respond to and what you pass by.

You may make casual reference to a wife. (Aha, XYZ is a man.) Knowing your gender is relevant because we can now refer to you with pronouns. He said this. His comment was pointed.

Slowly a persona is formed. A profession, location, memory of something that happened before I was born. All provide clues to who you are.

But mostly it's what you say and how you say it. No voice (do you have an accent?) No visuals. But we come to know you and you us.

Relationships are formed. Friendships. Sometimes people meet; sometimes they start private correspondences. All from words on a screen.

I can think of no other situation in which this happens. Amazing. A whole new culture. A whole new way of connecting.

I don't have a question. Just thinking out loud.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 2,535 • Replies: 47
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gustavratzenhofer
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 May, 2007 06:52 pm
It's like a bunch of floating minds. Crazy.
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ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 May, 2007 06:54 pm
Pen pals.

Remember pen pals?

It's like pen pals but better.
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 May, 2007 06:55 pm
Pretty mazing - good synopsis, Roberta.
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gustavratzenhofer
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 May, 2007 06:57 pm
Are you a man or a woman, littlek?
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kickycan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 May, 2007 06:58 pm
It is a pretty interesting situation, isn't it. Although I sometimes wish I could go back to that anonymity.
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gustavratzenhofer
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 May, 2007 07:00 pm
kickycan wrote:
It is a pretty interesting situation, isn't it. Although I sometimes wish I could go back to that anonymity.


I agree. I have revealed too much and lost my edge. Maybe I will come back as another character.
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 May, 2007 07:02 pm
kickycan wrote:
It is a pretty interesting situation, isn't it. Although I sometimes wish I could go back to that anonymity.

No problem. Just abandon "kickycan" and start a new account on a new site.
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kickycan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 May, 2007 07:07 pm
I can't do that, Thomas. A2K is the only site I'll ever love.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 May, 2007 07:10 pm
Yeah, the true anonymity days were heady! At this point, even if I started a new account people would figure out my voice soon enough, probably. And I'd have to lie about being deaf, and having a 6-year-old daughter, and... wouldn't work unless I created a whole new persona, and that seems to require way more energy than I'm willing to invest for headiness.

I said early on that what it reminded me of is a correspondence I had in high school. I sat at a certain desk near the back that somebody had written a haiku on. I wrote something under it. The next day I found that the person had written back. We kept going for quite a while -- never figured out who he or she was.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 May, 2007 07:13 pm
Schniff..


I like it when I get the gender wrong, ooops, like having my presumptions turned on me. More subtlely, I like having presumptions flipped on politics/religion.



I have wished and probably still do wish, that more people gave some clue or two on their profile.
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 May, 2007 07:40 pm
ehBeth wrote:

It's like pen pals but better.


I read: "pen pals in butter".

Yeah, those anonymous days were so much fun. I especially enjoyed being a man in politics. Since then I've gotten to know so many very cool people who I would love to meet in person -- and hope that I do meet. And I probably wouldn't ever meet them if it were not for A2K.

And really, it's an unusual phenomenon even for the web. Most message boards are full of flamers and fly-by-nights who just want the chance to spill their nastiness where it will be read but where they don't have to take responsibility for saying it. This place is just... different.
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squinney
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 May, 2007 08:02 pm
It's interesting that after meeting someone from A2K, your view changes. Once you know their voice, accent, mannerisms, you read their responses with their voice /accent in your head instead of the voice you atributed to them from their postings. Now when I read Thomas the words "bounce" more and the sentences go up at the end whether it's a question or not.

I was expecting this to be a thread about things we have said that revealed something about ourselves, but have it posted here by another member. I was afraid for a moment something might come back to haunt me. Very Happy
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Roberta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 May, 2007 09:19 pm
I thought about pen pals, which comes close to this kind of situation, except that this is immediate. No sending a letter and waiting for a response. Plus there are a lot of players here. Lots of personalities.

When I composed the opening comment, I wasn't thinking so much about anonymity, although that's certainly a major element in the mix. It's interesting to me that so many of you enjoyed not being known and miss being anonymous.

I was thinking about what a level playing field this is.

No preconceived ideas!! None.

I meet someone (in person) for the first time. I instantly see gender, age (more or less), race. I see that this person is wearing a fine linen suit. I see that the person over there has a funny-looking combover. I hear that this person says uh or ya know in between every word. I can't help but take it all in. I have to get past the outer person to find out who's really there. There is no outer person here. No preconceived ideas.

Just words.
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msolga
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 May, 2007 09:47 pm
Roberta wrote:
Just words.


Yes, it's interesting what you pick up about people through their words & not nothing much else to go by, Roberta. There are some posters, who at some stage, I began to perceive almost as kindred spirits. Bit by bit, quite slowly ... But if I thought about it, I'd be hard-pressed to pin-point what it was they'd actually said, & when, that lead me to initially form that opinion. Like you say, it happens over time.

You know, I've reached the stage where (sometimes) I can predict who the next poster to a particular thread will be ... & what they are about to say (or the gist of it) about a particular topic! Interesting, hey?
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 May, 2007 01:04 am
kickycan wrote:
I can't do that, Thomas. A2K is the only site I'll ever love.

Awwww Smile

On second thought, I'll probably have to report this to the mods as a "promotional post". Be very afraid!
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Roberta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 May, 2007 04:13 am
Speaking of anonymity, did you say things before people knew who you were that you wouldn't say now?
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 May, 2007 05:49 am
Yeah. I'm a lot more careful. Mostly about personal stuff, thinking "if ____ saw that would I be mortified?" Because you never know. (My mom found me at Abuzz, accidentally -- I'd mentioned the name of the site and nothing else and she checked in and I had one of those top 10 featured topics or whatever they were called, and the short paragraph shown included the fact that I was deaf and that I had a daughter sozlet's age, then she went and read a bunch [I never found out how many, exactly] of my posts. I asked her NOT to come here, and haven't told her the name of this site, but am aware she may be here anyway, it isn't that hard especially since I kept the same screen name. So I write pretty much everything -- including negative stuff about her -- with the knowledge she might be reading.)

On top of that, E.G. has asked that I not make too much reference to his specific field or provide too much personal stuff about him/ us -- he's worried about a grad student or someone putting 2 and 2 together. (Not that big of a field, and not many people with deaf wives in that field.)

So I try to be somewhat cirumspect, which kind of sucks but I don't let it completely cripple what I have to say.
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Roberta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 May, 2007 06:05 am
Soz, You ran into your mother on abuzz? Eek! That could be inhibiting.
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 May, 2007 06:06 am
I think that I have reached a stage of life where I am comfortable with who I am, and don't really care what people think of me. Those to whom I am a kindred spirit will find their own reflections in my words.

One thing that I have noticed, though. When I am going through a particularly difficult time, I do tend to become a bit more strident, somewhat more abrasive. I can look at some old posts of mine, and can readily discern the mood that I was in when I wrote the post, even though I may not remember exactly where I was at whan I wrote it.

As a kid, I rarely got involved in pen pal relationships. I found them very superficial. On A2K, I find that we can talk about things that I would probably not discuss with most of the people in my immediate community.
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