Roughly 2-3 years ago, I took some intensive private classes in graphology. It was quite interesting how our writing can reflect certain personality traits, backgrounds, histories and the like. Now after a time, I started disbelieving some of the premises of assumption affiliated with assessment. While writing unequivocally gives a lot of information about a person, I simply didn’t think at the time that it told accurate tales of overall picture. I did, however, see a lot of possibilities to micro-analyze the smaller things: mood, specifically. Pressure a person’s under, whether annoyed or angry, agitated, penmanship reflecting being detail-oriented or generally lax. A case can be made for big picture traits like self-confidence, arrogance, shyness, introversion or extroversion being available.
However, as writing is generally not as pronounced in the digital age as it once was and the majority being left to the scrapheap of signatures, receipts or bureaucratic documents or forms that already draw frustration and annoynace prior, it greatly limits the field’s modern importance or even validity. That being said, one area that popped into mind where it might have some validity would be in that exact digital landscape. Emojis/emoticons, memes, online shorthand, NetLingo, clumped phrases, tone, message accuracy and the like have profound significance in this age of social media communication. We use them unconsciously to make assessments of the people we allow into our lives. As I work most often in the self-defense world, I started wondering how this pertained to that field. Keyboard warriors, online conflicts and challenges, finding consensus with others in a predominantly testosterone-driven industry are the norm. Here it has value. Is there a way that these things can be compiled to glean an accurate picture of what someone is trying to say? To relate better without getting offended, to not get lost in the battle to be heard and have our point defended? Or to allow overall profiles to be made of the people we interact with everyday yet have never met in the real life?
Inevitably, most we talk to on the forums that we’re on daily are known strangers. We know very little about them and the only things we have to go on are previous experiences (comparison to people in our lives already, that have been in our lives previous or people we’ve come across positively or negatively – bridging the divide to try and label or categorize those in front of us now from this) coupled with the things they type and post (and our analysis, whether accurate or not, of this volunteered info – whether honest, restrained or falsified). I know I am constantly analyzing and making assessments of the people that contribute to the site and I think this is completely normal, as I expect fully most do the same of me.
Through what methodology and how accurate can it be outside of placing some trust in a handful that they’re telling the truth and we can relate to them as similar like minds. Can it be deduced and how do we continually make these diagnoses of the people online we let into our lives. I’ve had some old-school martial arts and personal defense instructors e-mail me privately and tell me this digital communication thing is highly-perplexing and difficult to figure out. (Confrontation without repercussion, empty challenges, critique of our posts from invisible detractors, aggressive liberties that in real life likely wouldn’t happen) Food for thought as it again goes towards safety and personal protection in this rapidly-developing and relatively-new playing field. This is a new animal in the personal protection field that most of us are learning on-the-fly, and I’ve labelled it “digital graphology.” Add it to your repertoire.