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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mis-sending Mixed Messages

Today, everybody from governments to parents is "sending messages." You don't just say something or do something, you send a message.

The idea is that your real meaning -- a warning, say, or a bad example -- will come across loud and clear to some key person or group without regard to what you THINK you're saying or doing. Or maybe what you PRETEND to think you're saying or doing.

It's great fun to accuse someone of "sending the wrong message," because this matter can be entirely subjective. That being so, the original sender can argue in response that the accuser is misinterpreting the message, maybe on purpose. This counterclaim detects a message of veiled but evil intent.

There's no real way of determining who's right . . . unless, of course, someone actually asks the purported recipient (a kid, a voter, an adversary) of the suspect message. And what kind of a message would THAT send?