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Beyond the Lone Islands

Thursday, 28 October 2010

What’s On Your Mind?


As soon as I get used to something it seems to change! The most recent example being the latest Windows Live Writer update… I don’t like it when instructions and controls on the screen get so small that I can hardly see them without using the magnifier tool, and won’t answer to ctrl+ … (grumble, mutter, grumble)…

I also don’t like it when changes in software get in the way of and delay my actual writing!

What was really on my mind before this happened was some more pondering about Facebook. (Two weeks of experience now.)

Facebook in English asks: “What’s on your mind?” Facebook in Swedish asks: “What are you doing right now?” I turned language into Swedish because most of the friends I’ve added to FB so far are Swedish. But the Swedish question annoys me every time it turns up on my screen. It seems to be presuming constant activity. It’s a question made for people on the run, using their mobiles. For me, the only truthful answer each time would be: “sitting at the computer”. Or possibly “lying”. In one sense or the other. (I.e. I might be half-lying on the bed instead of sitting. Or I might be making up another answer because always writing the same thing would be boring.)

Another question I never know how to answer is “How are you?” Especially when asked by people one hasn’t seen or talked to in years. I can’t even begin to come up with a good Facebook-sized answer to that one. (Someone just wrote it on my Wall. Again.)

In my opinion “What’s on your mind” really is a much better question to have as a starting point. What’s on my mind may or may not be the same as what I’m doing, or feeling (state of health etc). The mind is free to wander even if the body isn’t.

Right now for example it’s circling around how much the Facebook question really expresses the national spirit. Or language spirit, if there is such a thing? I got curious and changed my FB language a couple of more times. The Germans seem to take the same attitude as we do in Sweden. They also wants to know what people are “doing”. The French, on the other hand, just say “Exprimez-vous”. Express yourself. (I can almost see the hand gestures to go with that!)

In Sweden we really are very focused on what people are “doing”. Health and Work are major topics of conversation in almost any social context, as soon as you get past the more neutral topic of Weather.

When one has no job and does not want to get into details of health, that really only leaves the weather.

What do people talk about where you live? And if you have experience of more than one culture or language, can you see differences?


Sandra said...

I rarely go to FB but I have noticed all of these questions and i just don't get them at all. the what are you doing question, i see people writing. i am leaving to get my nails done, do i care? no or just got back from the dentist. they put one sentence like that. i prefer our intimate and cozy relatioship type blogging.

Ginny said...

I find this real interesting, the difference in the languages!! You can even find lists of the wittiest one liners ever put on Facebook. It's hard, though, to theing of something clever all the time. Plus they don't allow me enought words!


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