Tuesday, January 05, 2010


The Nature Of Facebook/Twitter Updates - Addendum

There have been a few mails requesting further details on elements included in the hierarchical list I included in the above-mentioned post - some expansion is hereby added to some of the entries.

- use of first person pronouns (I, me, my, mine etc.)
the most obvious marker of egocentricity: all discourse that we process is filtered through our own 'I', represented by our own feelings, emotions, experiences, hypotheses, sensorial awarenesses - use of first person thus demands that we, the listener, can relate to the utterances in a meaningful way, something which demands a lot of our tolerance (especially if we have no implicitly invested interest) - in turn therefore, first person statements are often reciprocated with similarly themed first person retorts to balance the interaction

- frequency of first person pronouns

- proximity of first person pronouns to the beginning (e.g. commencing with 'I')
since we process language in the order in which we receive it, the closer to the beginning of the utterance that first person forms appear in during discourse, the greater the effort required of us (see comments above) - contrast 'MY favourite new album is X' to 'X is my favourite new album' to ' the new album X is my new favourite'

- use of active or passive voice
the use of passive forms is a deceptive device that can be used to dissociate the speaker from the action in question, yet also act as a device to lessen the degree of egocentricity for the benefit of the listener, achieved
through the suppression (or delay) of first person forms

- expressions of opinion (an implicit or explicit 'I think that...')

- ratio of factual detail (times, places, names etc.) over process language (feelings)
as stated above, factual detail (unless it directly concerns the listener) can be more challenging to process as it requires more neurological energy to relate to, which is why long bouts of 'small talk', 'technical talk', 'job talk' and similar, can be -shall we say- rather less than riveting

- degree of assumption of second person interest
the degree of assumption of the listener's interest directly correlates to consciously or unconsciously perceived egocentricity by the listener - in extreme cases, this can mean an interpretation of outright arrogance on the speaker's part

- pseudo-attempts to engage (e.g. throwing out a question, attention-seeking, sympathy-seeking)
only rarely are people consciously aware of these gambits, yet after their initial responses, there are often rapid unconsciously enacted moving-away strategies when people feel their attention is being thus manipulated

- enigmatic, in-jokes

it would seem (perhaps surprisingly) that the more obscure the in-joke, the better tolerated the utterance is, possibly due to the greater potential afforded the listener for their own personal interpretation

coming soon:
DIETROLOGY : What Are Movie Credits For?



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