Today... I would like to talk about a topic I have been thinking of for a while now: talking AT someone vs. talking WITH them. I have seen multiple different interpretations of this but here is the one that I think is the most... applicable I guess when talking to people online.

Talking with someone is simply having a conversation. You say one thing ("How're you?") which prompts a response ("Oh I'm fine! How're your classes going?") and it goes back and forth. It's basic communication. You probably do it every day IRL, as what's to be expected.

But, talking online changes that. Now you can instantly send images to the other person without having to say "Hey look at this" first. Sometimes that's good, sometimes it's bad, but it does change the way we communicate. That and the fact that we can message someone at any time, even if they're sleeping, and they can just read it when they wake up. It makes you forget that talking with someone takes up their time, so you give less thought to what you want to say.

Which leads me to talking at someone, A.K.A. having a one-sided conversation. This can be in the form of sending multiple funny images with no context, focusing solely on yourself in a conversation, or just saying random things that come to mind with little to no regard to the other person's response. This site said it best by describing it as "forcing others to react rather than interact." That article is probably the closest thing I've found that matches my definition of talking at someone but it focuses on IRL discussion, not online.

Because I'm kind of a hermit, I do most of my talking online, and I've run into this issue a lot. Could this just be a ME thing? Yeah absolutely, you know that saying "if you run into assholes all day, maybe you're the asshole." But I feel like a lot of people trying to connect with others on the internet are doing so because they have problems doing that IRL, which in of itself isn't a bad thing at all! Sometimes there's just nobody like you around to be friends with, or you have social anxiety and are uncomfortable with face-to-face talking. The problem only arises when the reasoning behind that is because you lack social skills and don't realize it, then wonder why your online relationships don't feel as fulfilling as you want them to be.

How do you change that then? Well, first look at online resources... there are lots of good articles on how to improve your social skills. I like this Reddit post even if it is a little strongly worded; this one is much softer but equally good. But basically, just be kind to the other person! Put yourself in their shoes. Ask them questions about themselves, find out things you have in common with them and go from there. What's helped me the most was this: before you send something, think "Can this person easily reply to what I'm about to say?" If not, don't send it. Of course not every person you talk to will be one for conversation. Don't try to force anything; if they're a dry conversationalist, find someone else to talk to :P

DISCLAIMER: Yes okay some people don't care if you send them back-to-back memes constantly with nothing else added. But this is my blog, damn it, and I don't like that!