Tag Archives: communication

I’ll take my headphones off to talk to you!

Today an article about how to approach women who have their headphones in has been the talk of social media. I’ve read some tweets about this and a couple of opposing articles and blog posts, so I thought I’d throw my two penneth in.

I don’t drive, so I walk everywhere or use public transport. I also like to listen to music. These days my iPod is how I listen to about 90% of the music in my life. I wear headphones a lot. 

I am also from the north, a wonderland of strangers who exchange pleasantries at the bus stop, humans who will talk to the person next to them on the tram, or make chit chat in the queue for the toilets or in a supermarket.

In short I am a northern woman and I get talked to a lot by complete and utter strangers. Often I will have my headphones in, see that someone wishes to say something to me and so I take my headphones out so I can converse with other human beings. Most of the time I do not mind this one tiny little bit, even when I’m listening to my most favourite song ever.

“Ah!” I hear you cry, “But what about men who want to speak to you?”

I’ve found that most men are fairly decent. Very few of them have clubbed me over the head, dragged me back to their man cave and started calling me wife without my permission. 

I’ve found that most men if they have felt the need to interrupt my listening to 90’s Indie music are entirely apologetic about that. Most men, if they had fallen head over heels in love with me (I have had to stop wearing Impulse) are capable of taking gentle rejection in their stride. 

I admit that sometimes (because I’m a raging introvert, despite my northern bus stop chatting tendencies) I use my headphones to block the world out and to isolate myself from social interaction. Fair doos. I think a lot of people do that.

headphones

But, and this is a big but. Often someone, maybe an old lady will talk to me, I’ll pop my headphones out, whatever mood I’m in I will do this, and I will chat to them for as long as they want or as long as I am able. I might be the only person they have spoken to all day. It’s a nice thing to feel that you may have brightened up a day for a stranger just by taking a few minutes interest in their lives.

Who says this rule should only apply to the over 70’s. If someone wants to chat to me I will chat to them if I can. Loneliness and isolation are a horrible curse, it probably affects the elderly a bit more, but there are plenty of people of all ages who are lonely.

It doesn’t take any time, effort or money to be kind, to exchange a few words with a stranger. Even a smile of understanding can go a long way to making someone’s day. Yes, don’t foist yourself upon someone who clearly doesn’t want to talk to you about the weather, but what’s 5 minutes of your time worth anyway?

Are you making Emoji Misunderstandings?

Since the advent of mobile phones and text messages people have been taking things the wrong way, reading tones of voice and attitudes into even the most innocuous communications. The written word is ripe for misunderstanding. These days many text messages and social media updates are filled with emoijis which are causing communication confusion across the board.

This month University of Minnesota has published a study which explored how emojis look on different devices, from Android to iOS and whether the differences in emoji styling can lead to different interpretations. They looked in particular at the “grinning face” emoji which on some platforms looks like a genuine smile, on others an awkward grimace. 

Emoji usage has always fascinated me and I can spend ages examining the nuances of each smiley face to make sure I’m selecting the right one (sad but true), but the smiley face I send from my Apple iOS device may appear very differently on my friends Android phone. 

Earlier this week there was a murder in a town a couple of miles away from where I live. I was watching the tragic story unfold in a Facebook group and one commenter simply added three of these emojis to the post…Emoji MisunderstandingsI was naturally shocked at the Facebook users comment, which to me appeared that she’s found the fact that someone had just been stabbed to death in their own home amusing. It irks me that so many people use this emoji during sad circumstances and according to the University of Minnesota study, this is one of the most misunderstood emojis. I’ve looked at the chart showing all of the different versions of this emoji and it is clear on each device that this is a happy person crying with laughter. But maybe people can’t see beyond the tears.

Emoji Misunderstandings

Just to double check that it wasn’t just me who saw this as a crying with laughter emoji, I threw the question out to the crowd with a Twitter Poll.

Emoji MisunderstandingsI’m not sure how well my results would stack up against the University of Minnesota study, it was a Twitter Poll and I suspect Twitter users are slightly more emoji savvy than Facebook users, and have perfected the art of brevity in their tweets, with tweets being limited to just 140 characters.

Just 32 people responded with 94% agreeing with me that it means “haha so funny I’m crying” and the other 6% saying “Other” with suggestions including happy to be chopping onions and tears of mirth. It is clear from my less than scientific sample that 100% of respondents didn’t think it was the correct emoji to use as a response to a murder.

If a picture can say a thousand words, an emoji can be a handy shorthand to explain an emotion, a reaction or a feeling. If you’re using emojis it’s worth bearing in mind how they may be seen differently by others and and how getting the emoji wrong could make you look. Sometimes it’s easier just to type “that’s so sad”.