Words are funny things. We need language to communicate and for most of us, that means using words. Words are sounds strung together with squiggly lines on paper standing in for them; just signs that mean something which we all agree to abide to and for the most part, think we understand. But rules... rules... who writes them and what if they are not written down? What do we do then? How do we all agree on what we mean and what is the result of misunderstanding? I ask this because I was misunderstood earlier this week when I put what I considered a perfectly innocent comment on a friend's facebook photo stating that I was scared of clowns (it was in response to a photo of a clown, fact fans, so not as random as that might sound). I followed this with a further comment that I found the makeup which I took as a way to hide one's face, unnerving and that I worried that the person who spent their time using a persona to interact with their public might be actually unhappy and that the effort of being a happy, outgoing person would be exhausting, leaving nothing left for the person to keep for themselves. I say, 'worried' but the word is used advisedly; it is hardly something which keeps me awake at night and there are far more troubling and worthwhile things in this vast and wonderful world to expend energy on but having talked to someone who was a clown and who was the saddest (and I mean unhappy, not sad as in pathetic) person I ever spoke to, this is what I thought.
As I write this, I still think that saying it in the first place was rather banal and most definitely said more about me than about clowns. In fact, to paraphrase wonder film critic, Mark Kermode; it wasn't even really about clowns. However, I attracted some criticism from people I didn't even know (welcome to the open plan nature of Facebook, Rebecca - some friends of friends really don't have anything better to do than comment on things that are nothing to do with them) who seemed to read into my comment that I: felt clowning was an easy job; one with no skills necessary; not a real job; not an art form; had no history to it and that I had personally attacked clowns by suggested that they were tired, unhappy and pathetic individuals with nothing to go home to at night. Wow. Of course I knew that I didn't write that but that was what people had interpreted my squiggles on the page to mean. I apologised and exited quickly because I found it surprisingly SO TEMPTING to get into an argument. Ridiculous. I did manage a few smart remarks and have ignored the responses as I don't want to be pulled further into head wrecking pointless correspondence with strangers whom I will never meet and who have no interest in a conversation as to what I actually meant over what they interpreted.
In future I will think more carefully about what I say and what I mean but not be afraid to speak my mind. I will avoid anything to do with clowns though.