Advertising has experimented with languages, not only written and spoken, but visual and musical, for a long time. It tries to capture the essential and translate it into engagement, with a product or service, in their case; but in an age where everybody has shifted from the consumer mindset to start creating, some of those choices are being made by us and how we want to be represented. Companies listen (more than we’d like to), track and make decisions to reach a target audience; people search, scroll and then fall into an occasional error of judgment. Here’s a few sentences to navigate that context:
“You should think before you buy”
A friend used to say I should think less and live more. While her argument was actually on point, I don’t wanna talk about whatever she really thought about my personality: I take a long time to organize all the things that run through my head when I’m actually interested in a topic, and most of the time it’s a big confusion of references, even when it’s a formal situation. But specifically, when we buy stuff, we tend to make a choice based on immediate reward — or at least we go with short term decision making rather than long term. For example, I wanted a new phone. I knew how much I could spend, and I went for the cheaper models that came with a recent operating system. I found out the most recent ones were actually more expensive than I thought, but then it occurred to me that some brands are more popular than others. In the end, I chose a brand I had decided not to buy again, but that’s because I needed a new phone as quick as possible, and the delivery for the other brand I found online was going to take too long. So I went with convenience instead of personal choice, but seriously, who lives without a phone these days? Maybe buying something reflects who we really are, but I don’t wanna go that far. It’s probably more interesting to discuss how we choose to spend our time dedicating ourselves to what we want to improve, but money tends to make that easier. If people suddenly told you to think before you DM, maybe more relationships would be saved; but that’s a bad metaphor, and maybe some of them wouldn’t even start. Also, you don’t buy relationships. I’m not funny.
“You gotta learn how to sell”
Recently, I read something that said Twitter is a list of reasons for companies not to hire you. Maybe they split the people who wanna work from the people who wanna date online, but regardless of what people think about the process, you have to put an effort to look like the best version of yourself. Of course, that’s what my generation was picking up on, cause now authenticity has a lot to do with sense of humor, which means you’re more likely to nail that job interview if you know the jokes of the week on social media. But people who talk too much about social media are annoying, and we should all learn to look around at products and services for sale, instead of people. That’s what happened to some of us: we became what we share. But there’s a lot more happening around you than the media, traditional or social, can make you see — and while some of it seems irrelevant, a cashier doesn’t spend the whole day looking at Twitter. It’s one product after another. Replace that with a different job and you’ll realize it’s important to look around so you understand the world. But we don’t have to, right now. Like the stuff we buy, it’s good to think about wants and needs, but if you’re on the other side, you start to look at it differently.
“You should think before you hit send”
People have different expectations in relation to language. Language in use: what can be used, what should be used, but also words and even topics to avoid in certain situations. As conversation takes new forms and starts to look a different way, talk also changes to reflect some of the experiences we have with the visual, immediate, complex. People learn stuff with memes. They also share stuff about their mood with a picture of their face or a sunset, coffee or a book, bikinis, beer, screenshots, video edits and songs all in one place. When you send, it could be more private; when you share, it’s another identitary relation. People talk about soft skills: being an effective communicator and a good listener merge into being short when you have a message to share. But conversation isn’t dead: we want it more than ever — and the categories, though this isn’t a word to be used by everyone, are there for us to pick, but with a certain level of scrutiny.
“I can’t read all the comments”
Scrolling has become part of people’s lives, but it’s not just because the older generation spends less time online that we’re going to assume they don’t understand something we set out to do, what’s important for us or in general. If you don’t have time to go to the market, someone else can do it for you. If I need to focus on a project and I can’t have a lot of conversations while I’m working on it, I’ll need some organization and maybe I’ll count on my surrounding context to cooperate. Living by yourself means you have to clean, cook, buy stuff, do laundry, organize, pick up clothes and also work, if that’s the case. Depending on the job, you’ll find that we never do anything on our own. But that brings about many other discussions — how much you get paid, for example. A person with lots of followers can’t read everything people post because there’s too many interactions; a person with few followers may be looking for the right people to connect with, but maybe commenting might be good and even more effective than simply posting, except when you talk to yourself all the time.
People make reference to things we might not understand, and it’s on us to look stuff up. We learn something new every day, but sometimes, we choose to skip on one thing and the next day it’s harder to catch up. That’s completely fine. The context for each of us changes, though some of that stays the same cause we’re the same. But when we see language and start using it, we change as well. How we choose to expose our thoughts is what matters most: people don’t have the context, and if we want them to, we have to be clear, and sometimes, short — otherwise, they’re likely to go on to the next thing. But everybody should have their voice heard, regardless of how they talk, what language they speak or what they believe in: conversation starts, depending on each case, when we try to express what we really think and how we see the world. We just need to be careful of how the words match the actions, and of course, avoid confrontation if we don’t want the same treatment.