Thursday, May 17, 2012

Here's to Dogs and Computers

Why do you want to know?” Most people try to read between the lines and most people are bad at it. That’s what happens when you try reading something that isn’t there. But that doesn’t keep us from trying.

I got involved in a conversation online recently in which several people read a lot more into my comments than what I had actually said. At one point in the conversation I said, “I wasn’t saying anything against romance. (Why is it that everyone seems to think I am?)” To this Steve Laube replied, “Agreed. You did not mention romance specifically. But there have been comments on other posts where the genre was mentioned by you.” I suppose I should be grateful that people remember what I’ve said (apparently better than I do), but you would think I have a vendetta against romance or something. That is not the case.

For some reason, people are most interest in our motive for saying something or asking something than they are in the words we use. “How is your mother?” we might ask. “Okay, I guess. Why do you ask? Have you heard something?”

Unfortunately, it is hard to convey intent through the written word. It is made even harder because there always seems to be someone in every discussion with a chip on their shoulder. Take the traditional publishing vs. self-publishing debate, for example. Say something in favor of self-publishing and someone who prefers traditional publishing will take offence. Say something in favor of traditional publishing and someone who prefers self-publishing will take offence.

That’s what I like about dogs and computers. If you ask them to do something, they don’t ask why. They assume that you have their best interest at heart.