Monday, May 28, 2007
My friend Rochel and I were discussing how online communication can be flat. "Flat" meaning that you can't be sure of the writer's intent. She gave me a great example:
Once, Rochel left a message on my answering machine about the blog. I emailed her that the blog is private, and not to leave messages about it. I didn't want my kids to hear. I signed off "Lovingly, Maven." She said if I hadn't used "lovingly," she would have thought I was upset or angry. And the funny thing is, I totally wasn't. When she told me this, I felt sad for causing her any discomfort. Sometimes the typed word, devoid of a smile and a gentle voice, can take on unintended meaning.
Which leads me to my point: Schvartze. Remember that? Many of you were displeased with my choice of words, and let me know. I wasn't planning on justifying myself, I didn't feel the need. Talking to Rochel made me change my mind.
Rochel felt the word was perjorative. "If you grew up speaking yiddish, and used the word in a yiddish conversation, then it makes sense. But to use the yiddish word on it's own (in an english conversation) has connotations." I could see where she was coming from.
Today, Rochel and I met at the playground. Afterwards, she said, "Did you see the black boy our kids were playing with? He was only two and he was huge!" And then it all clicked. Just like that. I turned to her and said, "You know, I can see how if you said "schvartze," it would have changed the whole thing."
So there you go.
p.s. "Keepin' it Real" is a program on the talk radio I sometimes listen to.