#3 Tecnology & Communication

“I have 422 friends yet I am lonely, I speak to all of them everyday yet none of them really know me”  -Gary Turk

Throughout this first week I have thought of this quote whenever I have been confronted with technology. As technology advances in this modern day society we are becoming more introverted. While most everyone is talking to someone everyday, we aren’t physically there or looking directly in their eyes. Technology may be responsible for the declining social skills of American youth, but it really doesn’t have to. Technology may actually be a tool that helps, rather hurts the development of social awareness and the skills necessary to solve global problems.

For my project I want to delve deeper into the practice of virtual intra/cross cultural conversations.   Coming from a small rural community that lacks diversity, I believe strongly that if we could get young people talking with other young people outside of their community about real world issues we might find that we can both solve big problems and learn that we really aren’t that different from each other. We might find that the stereotypes that have been embedded in us by our community wash away when we are given a chance to work together and personally understand each other. We may learn that it is actually advantageous to work with people that have diverse ideas because of the culture they come from. To do this work well (virtual intra/cross cultural conversations    via Skype or some other video phone service) you need to be able to put yourself into their culture when listening to them, because if you don’t then you perceive them to be alike and in the same conditions you are in.

When I interviewed my grandfather, he was very interested in the effects that intra/cross cultural conversations could have on our world. “It’s important to think about not only the conversation, but to be able to reflect on what you had talked about during the conversation.” Meaning all to often people have in-depth and important conversations, but then fail to take the time to reflect on the conversations after the fact.

When I interviewed my grandmother, she shared that she is very concerned that the most pressing problems in the world today will never get solved because humans can’t communicate with each other well. She is hugely disappointed that her generation could not solve racism and diversity issues facing our world today.  Her hope is that young people will use their voices and energy to challenge some of the current practices of bigotry and hate that are directed toward minority groups.

After interviewing both of my grandparents I am convinced that with the help of my WtS partners I can research and study how the use/practice of virtual intra/cross cultural conversations might help  to bring more diversity and international understanding to my small rural community.



Erin Fishell

7 Responses to “#3 Tecnology & Communication

  • Erin —
    Sherry Turkle, a professor at MIT, has written extensively about this is both book and article form. Check her out. She may offer some avenues you wish to explore. Also, Robert Putnam, a professor at Harvard, wrote a famous book called “Bowling Alone” about the collapse of communities, something that tangentially relates to your topic. Finally, Georg Simmel, a German sociologist, is a thinker I use in class a lot when talking about characters in novels who are surrounded by social experiences but very lonely themselves.

    • Hello Ben-

      Thank you for sharing that information with me, I will definitely look into those resources as I get deeper into this project. I am going to try to get myself a copy of that book, it sounds interesting, and I think it would really let me look into the world of communication and tecnology on a much deeper, more meaningful level.
      Hope to keep in touch with you and your great resources as the weeks progress. Talk soon!

  • Erin,
    This is quite an interesting topic and one that I wouldn’t have thought of! I noticed and liked the connection with your last post: making your mark both locally and globally I agree with the importance of knowing other cultures and connecting with kids from these cultures. Five years ago, I had the amazing experience of living in Germany for the year, and belonging to another culture, even for a relatively short period of time, changed my life. So your topic is an important one and I look forward to hearing more about it.
    I wondered how you would go about documenting this, though. Have you looked into whether any of these programs exist in Vermont, in schools or otherwise? I haven’t heard of them, so I don’t know whether they exist. And if they don’t, are you planning on finding a way to implement them?
    I look forward to your next post!

    • Hi Greta,

      Sorry about my delayed response – thank you for commenting on these last two posts I have made. Your stay in Germany for a year is one of the things that sounds as you expressed it, life changing. One of the many hopes I have for this project is to connect middle and high school students from Vermont with other middle and high school students from around the world to have conversations about various topics, big and small. This conversation would hopefully lead up to in person meet ups, where we could host them in Vermont for some time and they could host us in their part of the world for some time as well. I am exited to learn more about communication as this project develops!

      Thanks for reading,


      • Erin,
        Your ultimate goal sounds awesome! Meeting people from around the world is soooo important. Maybe you should research exchange programs around the state that already exist (or maybe you already have–I’m about to read your last post). One thing to keep in mind is that starting a new exchange program in one year won’t be easy. Not that you can’t do it, or at least start it, but maybe you want to have an a Plan B as well. Communicating on the internet is a great start!

  • Erin,
    I love that quote that you started the blog with, I think that is a problem almost everybody now is faced with. I also am really interested in your topic, like Greta I have not thought about it. Not to say that I don’t think it is interesting, I think it is fascinating. I also think that it relates to WTS in many way’s epically how we are using technology to communicate and try to make a positive change in the world. I also think that this is a great topic for you to follow based on your firsts blog post and thoughts. I agree that I think some of the community’s in Vermont lack diversity. I am glad that you came up with this topic that covers most of the things that you mentioned in earlier posts.
    I am eager to see what you can learn about this topic, and the change that you can make,

  • Hi Erin,

    I find so interesting that you recognize both the danger of isolation that technologically advanced communication poses — and the great promise it holds for just the opposite. I imagine your research will lead you to ideas of how to suppress the former and inhance the latter.

    It confuses me. In my own life I am aware of letting myself sink into an anti-social mode because social media lets me have my proverbial cake and eat it, too. On the other hand I feel really connected to some people (former students, for example) whom I would have lost track of forever. And then there is the troublesome middle ground where I don’t know which end is up, so to speak.

    I’m looking forward to your research lending me a hand to find my way out of my confused state. (No pressure! I may be too far gone to expect any clarity.)

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