Context

“I’m going to kill him!” “I will end her!” “I’m going to beat you to a pulp!”

Have you ever said these words? Or perhaps something similar but equally violent or aggressive? Truth of the matter is we all say things that we would never put into effect. Ask anyone who has ever offered to eat their hat if they would really do it. Just because somebody in a fit of anger spouts the words:  “I’m going to kill you!” does not mean they are going to actually end your life. And yet.

Context. It’s all about context. People often speak without truly thinking about what they are going to say. That could be 98% of the time. It is so easy to get provoked about something and then use words that perhaps were inappropriate at the time. I once overheard a conversation on the street, I wasn’t intentional listening but they were quite loud and they were talking about murder. Now I am by nature a curious soul so I followed. I wanted to hear more. I also wondered if I should put my cell phone on record, you know, evidence. Ha ha ha! Within a few steps I realized that they were talking about killing a plant. Or rather someone who was taking care of her plants killed them by overwatering them. It’s all about context. She was talking about flora and I’m thinking about dead bodies. Tells you where my mind goes.

I love it when I hear people say they are so hungry they could eat a whole cow! Do they know how big a cow is?  It’s just another example of how people don’t really mean what they say. In context, they’re just very, very hungry. OK. So much of our humour comes from comments made out of context or misspoken words and phrases. We are funny when we’re riled.  And good comedians know it.

Now, speaking without thinking isn’t always a bad thing. It’s amazing how much honesty is reflected in those impromptu moments. Definitely not a bad thing but not always a good thing either. Honesty is to be respected and used judiciously. When you hear a word that someone else speaks, your mind may conjure up a different context than what was meant. I once had a conversation with an acquaintance about canoeing. The topic immediately puts me in Algonquin Park in northern Ontario with beautiful clear skies, brilliant stars and peace. He thinks about regattas with hordes of people and food and booze. Two totally different situation. We did eventually come to a consensus and we laughed about it. Context. It isn’t always easy to know what it is.

25 thoughts on “Context

  1. Dale

    Oh, and Algonquin Park is so beautiful!
    But oh yes, context is everything! It’s like what they do in the news.. they crop an image so your mind goes where they want it to. When they back up, you see they were not honest. It’s the equivalent, don’t you think?

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  2. Dan Antion

    Putting things in context is an essential part of good storytelling. It used to be an essential part of good journalism, but… Maybe it still is. Maybe we swapped good journalism for profitable journalism. Maybe I’m on the edge of a rant. Sorry. Yours is an excellent post, Pam.

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