Gestures in the Digital Age

I’ve always been intrigued by the evolutionary reasons for crying. One of the most palatable answers I have come across is that, when we cry, we show everyone around us how upset we are. As we are a social animal and our survival as a species relies on us being close to others, I am happy with that explanation, for the moment.

Another aspect which has always intrigued me about the human race is our ability to speak. Let’s rephrase that, the need to use language. It’s fascinating to start to think of how speech evolved in the different parts of the Earth. Again, is language something that unites us, that gives us a sense of belonging? (A common example often found in multicultural settings, is that, everyone communicates in one language but as soon as two people realise they have a different language in common, they switch to that one. The more considerate ones, then quickly switch back to the original language so as not to isolate themselves or those around them.)

My third thought for today is the connection between gesture and speech. We all know that we pick up on visual clues as well as language when we talk to others. And we’ve all heard how much e-mail is destroying quality communication as it misses out on tone of voice, body language etc etc. Our need to communicate comes from our whole being, not just our speech muscles. The reason why this came to mind today, was that I observed a couple of people in the street gesturing widely, while talking on the mobile phone.

I often observe this and catch myself doing it often too. Mapping out the left/right/straight ahead combination when explaining to someone how to get to my favourite restaurant; or simply just waving my hands desperately when telling someone about my frustrating morning.

When I am in a voiceover session I make sure I use the whole of my body for “best results”. Sharp, linear hand gestures work best for corporate work or instructions; facial expressions help when bringing character toys alive. No one can see my body moving, but it definitely affects the voice.

I try not to over analayse human nature and human interaction, but the biologist in me wakes up occasionally and today it has surfaced while reading Nigel Nicholson’s Managing the Human Animal. (I’ll leave further thoughts on this for a later post.)

So, while facial expressions are being replaced by emoticons, it seems like our bodies (and this includes our faces) refuse to be demoted to second place.

😉   😉     P.S. Interesting, no emoticon comes up for the sad face  ;-(

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