Semiotics are social

Near the end of a very long drive the other day, my partner and I got stuck in a traffic jam. The day was hot and the jam went on and on and we felt frustrated.

It didn’t happen, but as we sat and waited in the car I did get close to becoming irritated at my partner though our delay was not in any way her fault.

Ironically, had I been driving alone, my frustration at the traffic jam would have been even worse because the delay would have been preventing me from seeing her sooner.

This brief incident shows how closely connected our emotions are to our social circumstances. Since my partner was in the car with me, I came close to becoming irritated with her. Had she not been in the car, I would have missed her tremendously and wished she was with me. I bet many can relate to this sort of experience.

Consider that something similar often happens with speech. Our inevitably sloppy ways of speaking and listening produce an ineluctable muddle and rather than know this and compensate for it, we can and do get irritated when meanings get crossed.

There is no way that your meaning will always be understood or that you will always understand the meanings of others. To form a judgement or make an interpretation of what someone is saying without checking with them is a fool’s errand. You will be wrong again and again. And just because you can get someone else to agree with you, won’t make you right.

Our emotions are closely connected to our semiotic proprioception. It is very important to realize how often serious mistakes arise from this fact.

One comment on “Semiotics are social

  1. I am stuck in traffic a lot (by mself).
    Even start to feel annoyed with myself–for being there. ;)

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