Spokesperson Wanted

A month ago I shared the revelation I had concerning two opposing versions of myself. This was a significant discovery, and the hope was that by identifying this paradigm, the corresponding dissonance would fade, no longer wielding the power of being unknown, and that the small j version of myself would be evicted by the end of the month.

This has not been the case.

On the contrary, small j has thrashed about frantically this past week, as if sensing his pending departure but determined to trash the place on his way out. And this hyperactivity on his/my part has created a job opening of sorts for any interested parties; I could really use a spokesperson to manage my interpersonal communication, because I barely do an adequate job of it and, in one case specifically, this inadequacy is proving very troublesome.

When I first recognized this communicational crash-and-burn pattern, I cut back on chatting and text messaging because both methods seem to cater to the poorly filteredhastily rendered thoughts of small j. It’s not so much the joke that falls flat that bothers me. It’s not even the misunderstanding that arises from intonation being lost in text form. No, it’s the headspace these channels seem to activate. Something about the process of channeling thoughts from my battered brain, through my fingers, and onto the screen overwhelms me. These backstage obstacles are manifested, then, in a compulsive fretting over my choice of words, potential grammatical errors, even my punctuation. Did I use too much slang? Did I come across the right way? Did I use too many of these :) ? This cognitive overload and hyperactive insecurity, in addition to leaving me relationally handicapped, send me hurtling past social proprieties in such fashion that, in the worst case, every message I emit, whether verbal or textual, simply incriminates me further and further.

If I’m feeling particularly confident, however, I’ll indulge in some Facebook repartee but, even then, very little of what I write is truly spontaneous. When I feel compelled to leave a comment regarding a friend’s photo or status, it takes a few tries until I feel confident enough to post it for public viewing. What seems like an innocuous, witty comment has been double checked for spelling, grammar, appropriate relevance to the relationship, actual funniness, inadvertent connotations, clarity, and coherence. Then I look at what motivates my participation in that particular cyber-conversation, and if I find the driving force behind it to be a damaging, habitual one, I’ll delete the post anyway. And even then I’ll miss things that may or may not prove relationally disastrous.

The troubles I have online carry over into real-life communication as well. I’ve come to the point now where I err on the silent side – as my dad used to tell me, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say it.” However, community doesn’t happen by keeping your mouth shut – interaction is required. As you can imagine, this is all quite exhausting, for even saying nothing is saying something. So, like everything else, I go about doing the best I can with the brain I’ve been dealt. With that, I will be accepting applications for the position of personal spokesperson until the position is filled. Please include references and expected compensation.


About jaybrandsma

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11 Responses to Spokesperson Wanted

  1. Jane says:

    Not qualified to be your personal spokesperson, Jay. On the other hand, maybe all you need is a friendly editor. I know one. ; )

  2. Jane says:

    p.s. This post appeals to my technician side. I won’t tell you that you missed a comma in paragraph 4. : D

  3. josh barkey says:

    Disagree: “community doesn’t happen by keeping your mouth shut.”

    Community happens when people listen to other people. Perhaps your particular challenges have provided you with the opportunity to become less-average… to be the sort of person who listens much and speaks little.

    Most of us talk too much. And as someone who communicates better with the carefully-crafted written word, I have learned to accept that sometimes, if I have something important to say, I have to just wait and write it. (And I, too, am hyper-vigilant with self-editing – because no matter how hard I try, I still miss stuff)

    • jaybrandsma says:

      I agree that talking AND listening, the crux of meaningful interaction, is required for community. You are correct, I am slow to initiate conversation at times because of the cognitive challenges I face, and therefore the opportunity to listen rarely develops. In my situation, community won’t happen if I keep my mouth shut. I need to put myself out there. I need to engage.

  4. Jay: I will be your spokesperson, but you must be prepared for the inevitable ridiculousity that comes from out-sourcing individual intra-communication.

    Also, I assure you that you are not alone in your habitual over-thinking-that-results-in-deletion-rather-than-participation. I suspect I have deleted substantially more comments than what I have actually posted, whether on blogs or Facebook. The trouble is, I think, we likely over-think our thoughts, often changing our perceptions of the initial impulse, analyzing the funniness, intelligence, wisdom, or whatever, right out of the thought we had created.

    Clearly, if we all ‘keep our mouths shut’ we’d have nothing/no-one to whom we might listen, thus leaving our community project f(l)ailing. But, the point is well-made that we, collectively, speak/write too much; we de-value our opinions by sharing them with anyone willing to stalk us online without engaging in comment-form (Ouch! Was that too harsh a critique? I think this might be my first comment on your blog, despite having read the entire archives.), or we comment blithely on whatever we view/read by those who wish to engage in conversation.

    Now, against my (better?) judgement, I will post this comment, rather than delete it. I ramble on and on.

    • jaybrandsma says:

      Thank you for your application, I will add it to the others for consideration. Thanks, also, for the solidarity in navigating the high seas of online communication. As I mentioned briefly, this habitual over-thinking-that-results-in-deletion-rather-than-participation also takes place, in real time, determining my verbal participation with those around me. I feel that continued “deletion” here, keeping my mouth shut, in other words, is beneficial in moderation. I get the sense, however, that I default to this too often and any sense of community suffers as a result.

  5. I’ll be your spokesperson if you buy me an outfit every time you buy yourself one :)

  6. Gloria says:

    Jay, now you have me all “nervous” and “self conscious” about answering this in just the right words. You are an amazing writer and an amazing person who have overcome unbelievable odds. I won’t be your spokesperson because you do that, and are learning to do that so beautifully already. God knows your “heart” and your struggles with this. (a trite but true perspective). As far as “one liners” and quick witty answers on facebook etc. I always thought the intention of people posting stuff sometimes “ad nauseum” was to get people’s quick thoughts (not always censored or well thought out). In fact so much of daily conversation is just that isn’t it? We so often comment on things we probably should have kept our mouths shut about, or said things we wished we could “take back’, or given “insight” that has totally been taken the wrong way. We also all sometimes wished we had spoken into things that we didn’t and missed the perfect opportunity, See! now I am second guessing what I just wrote. We are all kind of in the same “boat” so to speak except you are more sensitive to it maybe? Love you lots. Love all this “self discovery” you have been writing about. In the end we all have to “accept” who we are. Not to say of course we don’t all have room for improvement. I agree with Jonathan. Love g

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