If we all sign up to live in a world where fast-paced button pressing is our main way of communicating, then surely we must be open to a little misrepresentation here and there. The way that we live and learn today means that we set ourselves up for misconstruing the situation, taking something as it isn’t meant to be and misunderstanding intentions, leading us to perhaps believe caricature over truth.
We come across misrepresentation in our everyday lives, my most recent encounter being as a result of some illegal use of Wikipedia in an academic piece of work. Apparently John Milton wasn’t alluding to flatulence when he introduced wind into his Paradise Lost descent into the Underworld…
But this is misrepresentation on a lowly scale; no one is following my every move and it hasn’t caused too much public outcry (apart from to my literature tutor perhaps). My run in with misrepresentation is minor in comparison to broadcaster and writer, Stephen Fry’s, who denounced an article in which he featured for Attitude Magazine last week. He suggests that his comments regarding female sexuality and women’s enjoyment of sex were highly misconstrued; through the spoken-word to written-sentence transition, they did not come across in the jovial, jolly, gay uncle manner that we would usually associate with the intellectual tweeting fiend.
So how do we solve a problem like misrepresentation?
Perhaps we should try and be articulate and concise when it comes to communicating a message, checking and checking again before deciding upon something as being fact. We should be more understanding that anything we read, especially online, could be falsification and should be taken with a pinch of salt. Misrepresentation leads to huge misunderstanding and in order to avoid both, one should read open-mindedly, not jumping to conclusions and clinging on to the wrong end of the distorted stick. Although I hate to admit it, maybe our tutors are right for scaring us off of Wikipedia due to the lack of accurate, scholarly authority; if recent stories of misrepresentation have taught me anything, it’s to go against Wikihow, pre-date Encarta 2000 and go back to the books and real encyclopaedias.
Printed in Redbrick: 5th November 2010