When we were first given "Commonweal" as an assignment, I had absolutely no intention of attempting 31 hours without my cell phone. However, the combination of careless packing and a sudden trip home, forced me to do the unthinkable.
At first, I thought nothing of it. I have gone without a phone before, never for an entire weekend, but I assured myself nothing would be different. I remained distracted until my mother started checking her text messages. And then the shakes began. I suffered from serious telephone withdrawal, and I would find myself looking for something to distract myself with during boring conversations, only to remember that my "escape route" had been left behind. I changed my facebook status to something along the lines of "without phone", only to be greeted with numerous comments like, "Well that makes sense" "Good to know you aren't pissed at me" and my all time favorite "I thought you'd died". If it hadn't been for my home computer, I would have spent 31 hours with lack of communication to all of my friends from school, church, and otherwise.
I felt the pain of no cell phone the most when I went out with a friend. As we sat drinking coffee, I watched as she constantly interrupted our coversations in order to continue her virtual ones with people she saw everyday. And I felt like a loser. Across the table she sat, talking to 5 other people almost simautaneously, while I waited for her to finish, wishing the entire time I had my phone. My way to show her up and announce to the world that I too was in high demand! Although in reality, I would only be sending mindless text messages and fiddling with my background pictures. It was at this moment, I began to hate my phone dependency.
For the first time in a long time that weekend, I shared a meal with my parents, and none of us checked our phones. We discussed politics, that morning's church sermon, my future, to name a few. We were completly engaged with the task at hand, and for those few hours, we were each focused on each other. I felt connected with my family. And for the first time that weekend, I forgot I needed my phone. For the first time in a long time, the people I wanted to talk to, were right in front of me.
Am I dependent upon technology? Hell yeah. Though I had been aware of my dependency prior to this lab, these 31-48 hours made me realize the negative impacts technology is having on my life. Though my cellphone and computer are great in order to keep in touch with friends and family that are faraway, they are also great distractions and devalue face to face conversations. With my phone, I used to be annoyingly addicted, checking it regularly for messages. Without my phone, I found myself more aware of what was going on around me, and more apt to start conversations with people. It was nice to speak, instead of text.
Since doing this lab last weekend, I check my phone much less during the day, and instead of texting my parents, I call them. When I found my phone lying in the bottom of my dance bag Sunday night, I found 8 missed calls 5 voicemails and 17 new text messages. Then the battery died. And I left it to charge in the morning.
This lab was very intriguing to me. I decided to go about my experiment of truth by having a friend film me drop items, such as money, glasses and an itunes gift card, and see the reaction of those around me. We started with the money, and on the first two tries no one even noticed the money! But third times a charm, a woman noticed right away and quickly caught my attention to give the money back. We repeated this experiment multiple times and it seemed everyone, except one, was very trustworthy. The one woman who took the chance of stealing my money was speechless as my friend began screaming "hey HEY thats her money" while filming the reaction. We were still feeling pretty good about the amount of trustworthiness in the Walmart community, that is until the manager came over. He made it very clear to us that no filming was allowed in walmart or in the parking lot as I suggested. We were forced to delete all evidence of our trust experiment :( and were not allowed to film him telling us we could not film (I wanted proof we had completed our project). He told us the reason we could not film was because it was suspicious and we could be filming to look at the security, even after we explained our school project! Later in Walmart we were asked to leave, apparently sitting in Walmart instead of outside is also suspicious! In conclusion although all but one person was trustworthy, the Walmart staff was not trusting in its customers, not even the innocent teenage girls!!
The average number of friends Americans have has gone down, because the number of people we know has gone up. Whether it's on facebook, myspace, or the contacts in your cell phone, many people have hundreds of "friends" documented through technology. This ease of communication has lead to a simplified way of life. Instead of visiting someone to talk to them, a phone call would stand in it's place. Instead of the phone call even a message on facebook or an email could be quicker, less intrusive, and simpler. This convenient communication has allowed us to keep in touch with hundreds of people from all over the world instantly.
However, this has also lead to us being more selective with who our close friends are. In 1985, the average American had three close friends, but today Americans say they have only two. In reality, we haven't lost a friend, just one of the relationships has been simplified down. The two friends left are the friends that are closest to us, the ones that even in the fast-paced busy lives many Americans live, we still make time to meet in person often.
Social capital is definitely changing, and almost morphing into something completely different. Technology has made us redefine "friends". We are able to know and keep in touch with a lot more people than we have been able to in the past at our convenience. So when someone is asked how many friends they have, the answer wouldn't be the 500 people they are friends with on facebook.The answer would be the two friends that are close enough to them that they step outside of the virtual convenience, and become more like family.
At first, when hearing the statistics, i assumed that this was definitely a negative effect of how society is changing. But the more i thought about it, it isn't necessarily a bad thing. The convenience of virtual communications, all though less personal than a face to face visit, has given us the opportunity to experience much more. Location doesn't have as strong of an influence of friendships as it would have in the past. We are able to easily keep in touch with people all over the world instantly. We are able to gain so much through global communications, and the fact that it is easily available to anyone with internet, is really remarkable.
However, I can see how it would be easy to become almost addicted to the convenience of communication today, and how people would begin to neglect smaller communities and lose social capitol. But it isn't a problem that we can't fix. If the awareness is raised for the need to have stronger small communities, whether it's through churches, clubs, or just neighborhood friendships,it is possible that we could find a balance. Perfection of the social capitol isn't something that you could easily define or make happen, but it's definitely something worth constantly striving for.
Is a vacation truly a vacation if one has only a few days to breathe, not to mention the constant calls from the boss about your schedule for when you return? To investigate American vacations, I polled a group of adults, varying in both age and race, to see how American vacations have been in the past and how they have changed to today.
Out of those polled 8 are women and 6 are men, ranging from people in their 20s to people in their 70s. The people interviewed are all from various states, those being California, Ohio, North Carolina, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan, and Illinois.
The following questions were asked based on the PAST. The answers to these questions are based on people that took vacations as a child. All of those interviewed responded.
What was the place you vacationed to most as a kid? • Ski trips to Colorado or Utah • A resort on Lake Michigan • The mountains of North Carolina • Delaware beaches • North Carolina beaches • Maryland beaches • Martha’s vineyard • Long Beach Island, NJ • Grandparents house • Camping • Going to the lake
How many vacations did you take a year? Out of all interviewed, most people took about one or two vacations a year. Sometimes people wouldn’t go anywhere, while one lucky individual would take about five vacations a year.
How far was the limit on traveling (states/miles from where lived)? Some people responded by saying there was “no limit”, while others responded by saying within their state or in states close to the state in which they lived.
Did you fly or drive to your destination? All people drove to their destinations, and some occasionally flew if the destination was far away.
Did you ever travel internationally? The response was about 50/50. About half of those interviewed had been out of the country, while others hadn’t.
How many vacation days did your parents have a year? Most parents had between two to five weeks of vacation time a year, which is anywhere from 14 days to 35 days a year (35 being very high).
Did you stay in a house, cheap hotel, or high priced hotel while on vacation? Some stayed in rental or relative’s houses and/or some stayed in moderate priced hotels. Those would went camping would obviously stay in tents or trailers. The following questions are based on the PRESENT. All of those interviewed responded.
When you go on vacation, do you take your cell phone and computer with you, in order to communicate with those at work? All take their cell phones, but not necessarily to communicate with work. About half take their laptops to do so, while some don’t take them but check email on hotel computers, and some isolate themselves completely from their work.
When you travel to your destination, do you stay at a house, cheap hotel, or high priced hotel? Of those interviewed, most people stay at medium or high priced hotel or a house of a friend or relative.
If you can come up with a number, how many U.S. states have you been to? Of the majority interviewed: 17, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 36, 40, and 45. (Some have been to the same number of states.)
Do you fly, drive, or both? Most people mainly fly, but the majority of those interviewed do both.
How much have you traveled internationally as an adult? All of those interviewed have been out of the U.S. at one point in their lives.
When taking vacation days off, do you take the time off as allotted? Most do take all the time they can off. Some don' and some even end up working while on vacation!
How many vacation days do you have a year? Most of those interviewed have around two weeks of vacation (around 10 to 14 days), plus holidays. The lucky ones have around 20 to 24 vacation days.
Concluding with this lab, it is evident some things have changed, while others have stayed the same as time as time has gone by. For example, people used to mainly drive to their destinations, where now people mainly fly. The amount of vacation days Americans have hasn’t changed either. As a 16- year old American, it will be interesting to see how much will change by the time I become an adult. I have been fortunate to have been to 24 U.S. states and out of the country twice so far, flying to most of the destinations. Hopefully when I am an adult with whatever career I will have, I will have more than two weeks of vacation. If not, Italy’s 42 vacation days is looking pretty good. =)
From: Caroline When first approaching this lab, we all thought that most people would sell their vote. After approaching different groups of people at Target on a Tuesday night, we discovered that most people wouldn't sell their vote. Whether or not these people were telling the truth, take a look to see all of the ones who chose right...
And then, you have these people who WOULD sell their vote.
There are few people in this world above the age of 12 that can say that they are neither members of Facebook or Myspace. Social networking sites have become accepted parts of our lives, places where it is ok to publicly communicate with both your friend from India, and your neighbor next door. Websites that allow you to feel "loved", by showing to the world thousands of your personal photos, your hundreds of friends, and of course, your current cheerful status. Not to mention, a public display of all the current messages from your friends, proclaiming to the world that you are an active member of society.
Studies have shown that Facebook has increased "social capitol", by allowing people to maintain relationships with friends and create new ones. Two people that live in separate countries are able to communicate constantly and freely. In lots of ways, social networking sites could be seen as great things! However, when people chose to sit at their computers to chat with people three counties over, rather than spend time with their friends in the same room, we have a problem.
Although I am an avid user of Facebook in order to keep in touch with all my friends, I feel it does devalue the meaning of friendship. Upon reading the reports involved with this lab, I realized that out of my hundreds of friends, I really only know about 2/3s of them, and only about 3/4s of that group I could either call friends, or at least were people that I would either want or do speak to on a regular basis. Facebook has also become a way for me to "talk" with people, without actually having to look them in the eye, and gives me less reason to speak with people. Facebook is like diet Coke. It gives you that taste, without being the real thing. It makes you think you are part of this vast social network, when in reality, you are sitting at your computer. Alone. Facebook is great, but doesn't come close to personal time spent with friends. It isn't a replacement. It is simply a bandaid.