“In speaking to an unknown or invisible audience, it is impossible and unproductive to account for the full range of plausible interpretations.” Pg 32
I would add to this that using text instead of voice adds to another layer of possible misinterpretations. On social media I often see people quoting songs, tv shows, or speeches or interviews that they feel the need to share. By putting spoken word into text and taking out context they are able to change the meaning of whatever they want.
For example, Donald Trump, while a master of Twitter, is apparently unaware of scare quotes. Scare quotes are “quotation marks used around a word or phrase when they are not required, thereby eliciting attention or doubts”, or, in other words, they make the quoted word sound ironic. So when Donald Trump says:
“I win an election easily, a great “movement” is verified, and crooked opponents try to belittle our victory with FAKE NEWS”
He probably doesn’t intend to mean that the word “movement” was used to belittle his own movement, but it humorously can be interpreted this way.
(WordPress won’t let me upload an audio file without a premium account so here’s a youtube video of me explaining.)
Donald Trump is fairly certain that people will interpret his tweet the way he intends, mostly because he is such a famous figure that most people understand his stance and thus know how to read his tweets. But when, the examples given in the book, parents read their childrens’ posts online, there is a generational disconnect that could lead the parents to completely misunderstand what is said.
While Donald Trump’s intentions are easy to understand due to his public presence, not every hashtag and quote is as easily put into context. Take for example the recent Digiorno Pizza debacle, where the official Twitter account for the product completely missed the point of a hashtag, and had to apologize.
It’s easy to make a mistake like that, because the words that make up the hashtag don’t, by themselves, indicate what the hashtag is about. Further context is needed.
I wholeheartedly agree with the text that plausible interpretations are hard things to control for when posting on social media. The contexts of conversations or hashtags, slang and symbols of different groups and generations, and translations from spoken tone to written word are all things that could lead a reader to interpret something that the author didn’t intend.