Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Silence of Body Language

Ever watch TV with the sound off?

Sometimes you can make out what is going on, sometimes you can’t. Sometimes you see the most twisted things on TV sans sound.

Today I was watching TV with the sound off – I was at the gym, on a treadmill watching the many TVs hanging overhead. They have them tuned into radio frequencies, so if you don’t have a radio on you, you don’t hear anything on them.

A commercial came up on one of them for Oliver Jewelry. Russell Oliver is a well-known media personality – known for his flamboyant and over the top-type of hype on his commercials.

“I buy your jewelry for cash!” is his famous catch-phrase.

When he talks, he uses his hands, his arms, he’s often walking into the shot.

Without sound, as I watched, I was thinking to myself “if I saw this guy coming at me like this I’d run.”

He looked like an angry crazy lunatic, waving his arms madly in the air, and ready to come at anyone with all his might.

Then I saw Tony Little on another channel. He’s the nutty over-energized fitness “guru” that has all these workout machines for sale.

Tony Little also looked like a madman, as he waved his arms, jumped around.

Funny how people look on TV without sound.

I bet neither Tony Little nor Russell Oliver are certifiably insane madmen ready to tromp all over any poor soul caught in their path.

But on TV, without any sound, they look like they would.

This got me thinking how I may look to others because I often talk with my hands and arms. I’m not usually on TV, but from a distance talking with friends in a public place, I probably would look just as nutty and scary as those on the boob tube look.

But I like talking with my hands and arms. Aside from it just being who I am, it also adds emphasis where I want, and helps me keep the attention of those I happen to be with on me, not someone or something else.

Maybe they should have a special area in restaurants for us highly energetic people? It could even be closed off and clearly marked, so those entering need not worry about the nuts inside – they just talk big, nothing else.

It would certainly put to use those separate, ventilated smoking sections bars and restaurants have – seeing as now smoking is banned in all these places regardless of having a separate ventilated area for it.

But then again, why single us highly visual talkers out?

We’re no more a threat to anyone than a rain-drop.

One of my pet hobbies is people watching. I love watching body language and studying how people interact.

That’s probably part of why I am so animated when I am in a good conversation – I know exactly what body language I am giving off and I am using it to keep the conversation in my ball park.

Body language is one of those sneaky little things we all do – even when we don’t think or know that we are doing it.

It is just part of being human. Cultural anthropologists claim that long before we humans learned to vocalize our thoughts, we all communicated by our body language.

The “words” we used were gesture clusters – combinations of facial expressions, hand and arm movements, even the way we sit, stand or even just lie there.

Despite the development of many languages the world over, we still pick up and give off these visual cues – it’s in-grained in us innately. Body language is like breathing, you can no more stop breathing than you can stop speaking the language of body language.

Interesting though, how in certain situations – like watching TV with the sound off – our body language may say something completely different from intended.

So, next time you’re watching TV – turn the sound off and see what you “hear” from those on TV’s body language.

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