Cute cat videos

As you probably know, communication is about the sender and the receiver. The sender, let’s call her Penny, says or writes something. The receiver, now known as Lenny, hears or reads it. Simple.
The problem though, is that there can be misunderstanding. Perhaps Lenny mishears Penny’s words and is offended. Maybe Penny says something as a joke and Lenny thinks she’s being serious, etc. It’s easy for Penny’s intention to be incorrectly interpreted by Lenny. What she says may be read as something completely different. And that can lead to problems.
This problem is magnified on social media. Let’s say that Penny posts a cute YouTube video of a kitten playing with an old lady’s ball of wool. She does this because she thinks it’s funny, and her friends will probably find it funny too.
But what does Lenny think when he sees it? Here are some possibilities:
Lenny thinks:
1) Cute. I love kittens!
2) Gah-  I hate YouTube videos.
3) Gah – I hate kittens.
4) Gah – I hate old ladies.
5) Yawn.
6) What is Penny really trying to say? She knows that I love kittens, so maybe it’s a clue that she fancies me?
7) How could she be so cruel? Both my cat and my Granny died last month, and here is Penny, making light of my grief.

So you see that, no matter what Penny’s real intentions were for posting the video, Lenny can interpret them in a hundered different ways. That’s not her fault of course, the real concern here is Lenny, the reader’s, reception and attitude.

But maybe Penny posts videos like this every day. Well then, you could understand if Lenny was a bit annoyed. So Penny isn’t completely off the hook. And if she knew that her close friend Lenny was very sensitive about kittens and old ladies (if option 7 were true) then maybe she should have thought twice before posting.

Should she though? Her intentions were innocent – she didn’t mean to upset Lenny. It’s a conundrum.

Whenever there is any kind of communication, there is the potential for misunderstanding and hurt.

If Lenny really hates the videos that Penny posts, he could block her, or even remove her as a friend. Or maybe he should take a break from social media for a while if he’s going to be so upset. In the end, the only thing that Lenny can control in this situation is his own response.

Also Penny, if she is aware of Lenny’s feelings, could be more sensitive – within reason. But I don’t think this should stop her posting kitten videos – it’s a free country. However, if she was posting to deliberately hurt Lenny, that would be different.

I think it’s a good idea to be sympathetic to your audience when communicating, but remember that as long as you have good intentions, it’s not really your fault if it gets misinterpreted. That’s not an excuse to post kitten videos every day though – be aware that your words and videos may upset other people, even if you didn’t mean to.

In the end, the only way you will never offend anyone is to never say anything. Simple.


Author: Alex

I work in a college library, and love reading and writing. I write short stories, poetry, blogs and children's stories. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2015.

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