Object 1: Tweet by @poisoncookie00

May 27, 2021


A Japanese Twitter user @poisoncookie00 posted a screenshot of Line chat with her friend Takashi. Takashi says “The moon is pretty”—a phrase originally used by a poet Natsume Soseki when he translated the English phrase ‘I love you.’ In Japanese society where reserved expressions are appreciated, the phrase describing the moon’s beauty quickly developed into a romantic idiom used to confess love. Takashi keeps repeating this phrase to the author, but she doesn’t realize the meaning until Takashi sends her a screenshot of Google search results about the phrase.

This tweet shows how the difference in perspectives may hinder communication of knowledge between two individuals. The author’s lack of background knowledge about the metaphor prevents Takashi from effectively conveying his feelings for her. Takashi initially assumed that she shares the same knowledge as him and decided to confess his love to her with the metaphorical phrase. However, she simply perceives his words as a description of the moon, rather than a poetic confession. Here, the same expression is interpreted differently for two people, because of their different perspectives and prior knowledge on the phrase: Takashi looks at its cultural context while the Twitter user focuses on the literal meaning. This reveals the challenge raised by communication of knowledge: when hindered by lack of shared perspectives, communication of knowledge that uses implicit expression may create misunderstanding and distort the true message.

The object is also significant in that it was posted on Twitter and received a lot of attention—evident in the number of likes (14.7k). The fact that she voluntarily shares her private conversation with Takashi on a public platform suggests that she doesn’t take his confession seriously. The caption even mocks Takashi for using a “pretentious” metaphor. This, again, distorts the pure intention of Takashi who attempted to carefully convey his feelings, acting as another challenge to Takashi’s mode of communication.

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