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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Technology ...

In this so-called modern era technologies have created possibilities as well as chances for people to communicate with anybody all over the world, without going to places where our counterparts live. There are many machines we can use for communication such as phones (or mobile phones with their feature to send text messages), facsimile, until the internet with its various ways of communication, from email, chatting (YM, MSN, Googletalk, you name it.) and some others.
However, face-to-face communication is the best way to communicate in order to avoid miscommunication. Experts say that human face consists of 44 muscles and two bones: the skull and the jaw. These muscles are not attached to the bones so that they float freely giving us huge mobility to create approximately 7000 different facial expressions. When people communicate face to face, they can see their counterparts’ facial expression so that they can understand the feeling of the counterparts while saying something. They can pick up cues from the expression shown in the counterparts’ faces as well as body language.
This is the thing that we cannot find or use in long distance communication, especially via text messages, either via email, chatting or sms via cell phones. Direct call is better since we hear the voice of the caller and hopefully can recognize the mood of the caller whether he/she is happy or angry or disappointed or sad. The availability of ‘emoticon’ absolutely helps reduce the miscommunication. However, the number of emoticons is not as many as 7000 facial expressions human face can produce. Besides, the feeling of the reader of the text messages also play a very big role in producing a certain mood when reading the messages.
For example: several months ago a workmate of mine sent a message to another workmate, jokingly said, “Hey you, don’t be irresponsible like that, will ya? When you are absent, tell the substitute teacher what lesson he or she is to cover in your class.”
Unfortunately the workmate whose mother happened to be the boss at that time was in a bad mood. The moody mother was also in a bad mood when reading the message. Instead of reading it in a joking tone, these mother and daughter read it with upset mood and imagined the sender said that in an angry tone with her arms akimbo. The result was very fatal. The boss was losing her control and my workmate (the sender of the message) got yelled violently.
Technologies indeed have given us a lot of benefits such as getting more friends from all over the world without needing to go to faraway places because we can easily communicate with them from where we live, using the internet and (cell) phones. However, we are not to forget that technologies also can kill the friendship when we read messages wrongly due to our bad mood when reading them.
PT56 21.21 260409

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Small talk

On the second day in my CONVERSATION CLASS level 3, my students and I were talking about SMALL TALK, what kind of topic people talk about, especially when it is their first time meeting each other. As everybody knows, the topic is very various, and it definitely depends on the situation, place, and time.
When I elicited what kind of situation, a new student said, “Wedding parties …”
I wrote it on the whiteboard, then elicited again, “When you are in wedding parties, what do you talk about when you meet a new person?”
The same student answered, “Status Miss …”
I was stunned. I was never in such a situation, being in a wedding party, talking to a stranger, then being asked, “Are you single? Or are you married?” or asking someone else, a stranger, the same question.
I was a bit doubtful to write ‘marital status’ next to situation ‘wedding parties’ at first. But then I remembered one intriguing character in the movie ‘PS I love you’, Denise.
“Have you guys watched PS I LOVE YOU?”
Two or three girls raised their hands. However they did not remember Denise. (Perhaps because they watched it long time ago, while I just watched it a couple of weeks ago and I was intrigued by Denise.) So then I practiced.
I asked one male student in my class, “Are you single?”
He seemed confused to answer. Perhaps he has a girlfriend already. LOL.
I went to another male student, “Are you single?” he convincingly answered, “Yes Miss.”
Then I asked him again, “Are you gay?”
He frowned, then answered, a bit offended or confused, LOL, “No Miss …”
Apparently he did not watch PS I LOVE YOU. LOL.
The following question (in the movie) was, “Are you working?”

After Denise got satisfying answer, “Yes,” “No,” and “Yes”, she would confidently kissed the guy’s lips. After some time, she would stop the kiss. If she thought the kiss was just so so, not yummy at all, LOL, she would say, “oh not nice. Bye …” leaving the guy dumbfounded. LOL.
“Is it possible to practice it in Indonesia, especially in Semarang?” I asked my students. Instead of answering my question, they just laughed.
“Wish I could do that here though.” I said. LOL.
Oh well, my experience so far, I never attended wedding parties all alone, and I usually would just talk to the ones who accompanied me—Angie, sisters, or workmates.
“What other topic do people talk about in wedding parties?” I continued eliciting.
“The bride and the groom, Miss…” someone proposed.
“Good … what do you people talk about the bride and the groom?” I asked.
No one gave me an interesting answer.
“Well, I remember in one wedding party of a friend. She was in her middle thirties when she got married, and her husband luckily or coincidentally was nine years younger than she was. It is up to you whether you consider it lucky or unlucky or just so so.” I said to my students.
“In the party, I overheard people talk about the age gap between the bride and the groom, such as, ‘wah, kok nganten lanange isih kinyis-kinyis ngono?” LOL. (Wow, the groom looks so young and fresh!")
The following question possible asked to a stranger was, “Are you a friend of the bride or the groom?”
“How about if the stranger answered honestly, “None of them…” I asked.
“How come Miss?” one student asked.
“Well, a smuggler you know, just a passerby wanted to eat for free.” LOL.
There were some other situation and interesting topics. However, I have to prepare myself to go to the office now.
PT56 08.05 180409