I think it is safe to say that everyone here in the newsroom has an appreciation for words. We all know that the English language can be tricky, even for its native speakers, so sometimes it’s best to embrace its ambiguity.
A lot of times, people interpret things one way when a completely different meaning was intended, and that’s the beauty of words both spoken and written. I got to thinking about how the way we communicate has changed, and I blame text messaging for a lot of that. People just don’t communicate like they used to. It’s neat to think that a simple comma or a misspelled word can change the entire meaning of a sentence. Sometimes, miscommunication turns out to be funny, and other times it can be a serious problem.
Obviously, I would never miscommunicate something intentionally, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like to find the humor in human error in communication. The other day I shared a story with everyone in the newsroom about a time when miscommunication, on someone else’s behalf, helped me make a fool of myself.
When I was around 14 or 15, I had given my cellphone number to this guy from school. I had a crush on him, so I was excited when he sent me a text one afternoon. We had exchanged a few messages back and forth just making “small talk.”
Out of nowhere, he stopped responding. I remember panicking thinking I had said something to offend him, so I frantically started reading back over the messages I had sent. Of course, when I didn’t find anything that would make him want to stop talking to me, I just convinced myself that he didn’t like me. After that, I went about my day. Several hours later, he sent me a text back. I was relieved when I saw that he decided to respond. When I opened the message it said, “Sorry, my bat died.” I was so relieved. I text back and said, “You have a pet bat? That’s cool, but I’m sorry it died.” He immediately responded and said, “My phone battery.” I was so embarrassed.
There I was thinking this poor guy didn’t respond because he was busy burying his dead pet bat, but really, he didn’t respond because his phone battery was dead. I just sat there looking at my phone wondering why he couldn’t have spelled out the whole word—I never text him back.
See, people just don’t communicate like they used to.