Mr pricklepants is a toy hedgehog in Toy Story 3. Prickle pants is my title today as ’emotionally prickled’ is how I currently feel.

I feel like some kind of a social cactus…like I’ve encountered a lot of conversational prickliness today which has made me feel sore.

Today has been socially difficult…some days are aren’t they…because sometimes you have to have difficult conversations. That isn’t to say that prickliness is anyone’s fault. I lay blame at nobody’s door. As humans, we will inadvertently prickle each other, despite out best intentions. The conversational prickles are not usually intended. Certainly no one has intended to upset me today. I know that. But still being a sensitive soul, I’ve felt prickled.

Today I’ve felt like I am walking on a fine balance beam, in a noisy overwhelming social- gymnastics hall.

I have tried to stay upright…I have tried to behave well….I have tried to communicate clearly…I have tried to write on social media and on FB Messenger with positive intent. But that isn’t always enough to avoid that horrible sense of mutual emotional prickliness that feels crap when it happens.

I wonder sometimes how things would be without computers, without such wide social contact with people you haven’t ever physically met.

Online friendship is a large part of my daily social activity. I spend far more time online than I do with my ‘in-the-same-room’ pals.

But the trouble is, we judge and navigate our way through the world socially, with people we have often never physically met. Sometimes we may not have heard their voice or how their body moves through space or what they look like in 3 dimension rather than flat images. We cannot get the same accurate sense of a person if we only message each other, compared to meeting up face to face and feeling that person’s energy and seeing their face move.

No-one taught us how to socially assess people online…Is there even a method?

When we meet someone face to face we have all the non-verbals to digest. Unless you have an autistic spectrum disorder, we usually possess an inbuilt ability to sense things about people in a very short-cut intuitive instinctive way.

What happens with forming social judgements of someone we have only ever messaged? No non-verbals are available. In the absence of non-verbal communication, we are forced to judge by punctuation, by sentencing structure, by vocabulary, by emoji useage, by what parts of a sentence are emphasised in the text…and unless we are extremely skilled in our ability to write sometimes inevitably we will make mistakes, or we will not express ourselves well, or someone will interpret something differently to how we expect.

Maintaining a mutual understanding of how the written interaction is going down, from both our point of view and the other person’s point of view is a tricky thing to achieve! It is akin to pushing gravy up a mountain-pretty damn exhausting and sometimes futile.

Mistakes happen. Prickles happen. We are human.

We are not all the same. But we ride in our social media bumper cars, socially bumping into each other left right and centre, but all by COMMENTS, EMAIL, MESSAGES- it is all the written word! No non-verbals!

This is a photo of my laptop. 

This laptop has the power within it’s keys to make other people feel very happy or very very shit. All you have to do is press the keys in particular order, and bingo…your words have the power to affect people in a variety of ways.

You’ve heard of keyboard warriors, right? People with internet balls who say very direct and offensive things which they wouldn’t have the guts to say to someone’s face…well what about the keyboard peacemakers? Those that aim to be considerate in their interactions, but still encounter occasional pricklepants prickliness, or even advertently become the source of prickliness themselves by not thinking about punctuation, sentencing, precise wording and emoju use. The social prickle perpetrator (!)

I try and stay away from prickliness, but on social media, prickliness finds you.

There is always someone in their bumper car wanting to bump into your bumper car.

It makes me want to hide. It makes me wonder why I bother spending time online chatting to people I have never met and may never meet. But I don’t want to allow these pricklepants experiences turn me off and take my focus off all the good bits about online friendships.

There is much good…I just wish I could interact socially online without the social media prickliness that sometimes ensues. I don’t wish anybody ill. I don’t wish to upset anyone. I just wish for people to not upset me. I need some kind of online protection…some kind of forcefield to protect me…a magic cloak or something…something that the prickles can’t prickle through…that would be lush.

I would like that LOTS.

QUESTIONS….How do you deal with social media communication? Do you think face-to-face is better? How do you handle pricklepants prickliness when it happens to you online with mates you haven’t met yet? I would appreciate your insight thanks people :)

summerSHINES ©