Friday, April 20, 2007

To Scribble or to Gnosh?

I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete. (2 John 12)

I found myself caught off guard by this little comment, tacked on to the end of both 2 John and 3 John. I originally posted this at Accountable Devotions, but I keep thinking about it, so I wanted to expand the pool of inquiry. What are the limitations of something written (even something written under the guidance of the Holy Spirit) in personal relationship? How do we know when it's time to set aside the paper and ink, and instead go face to face? What are the relative merits and weaknesses of written versus verbal conversation?

8 comments:

Web said...

Regardless of whether the relationship is personal or professional, the two big issues, in my opinion, that can arise from something written are:

1. The words on the paper (or on the screen) can easily be taken out of context.
2. Emotion is taken out of the equation. (e.g. is the writer happy, mad, annoyed, etc.) - the smiley/frowny faces help, but it's not the same.

I prefer to talk face-to-face (or even phone-to-phone) even if it means we talk about trivial things. Email (and written letters) have their place, but they cannot replace the bond that two people create in true conversation.

Web said...

forgot to mention that your blockquote looks very nice. ("very nice" is supposed to be read/said with a French accent as originally presented in Monty Python and the Holy Grail - but it's hard to portray that in words...)

David A. Zimmerman said...

Well-played comment, Dan. And thanks for schooling me on block quotes in Blogger. I actually posted this once with "bad blogger" indentation, then I remembered your guidance and pimped the post out. My hero.

My word verification: fzffbg

Pete Juvinall said...

There are also implications about relationship that are inferred about your medium of choice. Written communication comes off a bit more stern and de-personalized than face-to-face. So, you probably wouldn't want to fire someone over e-mail or break up with someone over SMS messaging, for example; it's just simply not polite.

On the converse, there can be added weight given to a face-to-face encounter as well. It's easy to blow off an e-mail, but not so much a face-to-face communication.

--pete

Carolyn said...

I love getting the mail... it's one of my favorite moments of the day... in fact, getting a letter is so much more unusual than having lunch with a friend, I think that it's become more significant to me...

Anonymous said...

Written communication has a life of its own--"there's nothing outside of the text." Face-to-face communication is living (and dying). It has a dynamism that written communication does not have.

Jenn said...

This is such a good question. I love getting mail because I feel like there's something almost tangible validating me (or something). However, most of the time if I really want to say something important to someone, I would rather be there with them, experiencing them experiencing the thing we're talking about. But then after all that happens, I wish THAT had been in writing, too.

(Word verification lxmmur. Is this related to llamas and lemurs? And something with "x"s?)

Stacey said...

I know that around my office I'm a bit bizzare in that I prefer to get up and talk face to face with people rather than email. It provides that extra opportunity for relationship but certainly isn't as time proficient. I'm always in danger of bothering people I fear.

Verification: vvhoa as in whoa that's profound :)