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Tone Indicators: The Answer To Prevent Misinterpreted Messages Online




This illustration picture taken on May 27, 2020 in Paris shows the logos of the social networks  applications Zoom, Discord, and Teams on the screen of a phone.
This illustration picture taken on May 27, 2020 in Paris shows the logos of the social networks applications Zoom, Discord, and Teams on the screen of a phone.
MARTIN BUREAU/AFP via Getty Images

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Misinterpreting someone’s tone online has been an issue that has plagued folks for decades.

A study done by anthropologist Ray Birdwhistell found that over 65% of face-to-face conversations are communicated through body language, leaving many to wonder if there's a viable alternative for it through text? Turns out there is.

One method has been emojis, having been popularized in the 2010s and becoming an alternative for folks who want to make their online texts more colorful. These do have their limits, as many neurodivergent people have trouble understanding them.

That issue has allowed another online trend to grow, this being tone indicators, or a written set of characters that help clarify the nonverbal context for any written messages.

Have you ever had a moment when your written words were misinterpreted? What type of tone indicators have you tried adding to your texts to make social media and work-related emails less confusing? What are your thoughts on using tone indicators? Call us at 866-893-5722.

Guest:

Ezra Marcus, writer for the New York Times style section; he tweets @ezra_marc