I guess that like most photographers I am interested in people. Their body language, facial expressions etc.

It has often occurred to me when reading internet forum postings and sometimes the way in which they are interpreted by a reader in another country; just how dangerous written words can be without seeing the person speaking, or in our case, writing.

I was reminded by this very recently, whilst reading a thread on this very forum, when a Brit was publicly reprimanded for a comment made in reply to a posting.

The comment which I won't repeat, did not in my view as a Brit, warrant the reaction it received (or "it had gotten" which is equally offensive to my ears!).

I well remember when a large British company for which I was working at the time when in my early twenties, was taken over by a U.S. company. One of my first personal contacts with my new bosses was a meeting with a highly intelligent middle aged and very loud New Yorker who didn't mince his words!

I quickly learned that his expression of "sitting on my fanny" did not indicate that he thought that I was gay! As a Brit, that very American expression had very different connotations. However I didn't take any offence whatsoever because I could see his smiling face and I then knew that he was using a colloquialism. It would have been very different if I had read the words without seeing the face and body language of the guy making them!

He came from a very different culture to myself. I ended up enjoying his company and his colourful language!

Between the US and UK, we share so many things, but really we do speak a slightly different language....different enough to cause unintentional offence sometimes. Bill Gates may change this over time, but it will take a lot of time in my view.

So both sides sometimes need to reflect and consider before pressing the "submit" button between different cultures whilst on the internet.