I've often thought, and may have already said, that the written form of Internet interaction is very useful...
Consider Blogging: I write a post taking as long as I like to make it clear, grammatically correct and spell-checked, you comment, and with many of you, I answer and we have a written conversation via emails. Some of you have become very good and important friends to me using this method of communication.
Consider reading other people's Blogs: You write a post, I comment, you reply and ditto the written conversations!
Consider Facebook (which some may not wish to do!!): People post, friends comment and in abbreviated form interactions and communications ensue.
(Blogging and Facebook are my own two regular platforms for Internet interactions, that is why I am using them as examples)
So far so obvious- you write, I write and we all generally understand each other even if we don't agree with each other.
Now take the spoken word: Many of my Internet friends live across the water, very few here on the oul' sod. Each and every one of you will have some sort of accent, regional, country, international, for some English is a second language, and for some their spoken English may be peppered with local idiom and words in different languages.
For instance in East Africa very few people use only one language when they speak. I had not realised how much Kiswahili I was in the habit of using in everyday speech until I returned to live in Ireland and had to refrain from using all the local African linguistic short-cuts to which I had become accustomed. I still forget sometimes and have to correct myself when I receive blank stares. But in Ireland we use many Irish words and peculiar idioms in our general speech, which have to be edited when speaking to a non-Irish person. I daresay there are really very few of us who speak unadulterated, perfect English...and whilst we are on the subject, how exactly should we define perfect English?
Now, to one's imperfect use of the spoken English word add in the issue of accent: English, American, Scots, Finnish, French, Welsh, Russian, Canadian, and many more judging by my blog stats. In England there are many regional accents- I have lived in Watford, Hereford and Avon and noticed the differences each time. I know from the Church visitors we have had over the years that Americans have vastly differing regional accents and the same probably goes for most peoples.
I have tried to imagine how it might be if I picked up the phone to any one of you, especially those I know quite well, and I think that it is almost certain that although we might each speak English, we would also each have a desperate time actually understanding what the other was saying!
Have you ever heard a real West of Ireland country accent? With its use of idiom translated from the Irish? I know for absolute certain that I do not speak as I write. In writing I make my voice accessible and clear, grammatically correct (forget the spelling, that's always going to be atrocious, but sure it doesn't matter how badly you spell when you are speaking) and as lacking in idiom and Irish slang as I can make it. In speaking I can alter my use of language to a certain extent but its still going to sound local Irish.
Consider your own speaking- how accented or idiomatic would your natural spoken words be? Would I understand you? Maybe, but the communication would be stilted and full of possible misunderstandings, and a real ear-opener to boot!
One day I will get to meet some of you perhaps, I certainly would love to do so, but beware that although we may speak the same language, we may still fail to communicate!!