One of us could be the next

The author says, “you need to ponder, probe, speculate, and follow your hunches” (485). I agree with this, because I think many things go under the radar. I tend to notice connections and have hunches about certain things, but then I get distracted and unfocused. The beauty of this field of study is that we have an opportunity to really get our hands dirty and be ethnographers just like anyone else. “Unlike many academic disciplines, the study of communication is one in which we're all practitioners" (485). All of our experiences in and out of this class, have contributed to the overall breadth of my understanding of each theory we learned about. Applying these theories and concepts to my life and practicing them in appropriate settings, has reaffirmed my belief in them. I can definitely and honestly say that I have pondered, probed and speculated this semester. Griffin suggests that as communication scholars, we can and should, “Switch from casual observation to an intensive gaze” (485). When I first read that statement, I automatically thought, “I am not smart enough and do not have enough experience to do that.” But the truth is, I am just like any of these authors, and scholars in this book. They took an interest in a specific context of communication, chose a theoretical perspective from which to start, and began their research. Without their hunches we would not have the breadth of communication information that we do now. George Herbest Mead had followers and students like Herbert Blumer, who expanded and elaborated on his research; one of us (in this class) could be the next Herbert Blumer.

Self-Image

Chapter 36
Page (474)

Self-image:
"Identity; a mental pcitrue of who I see myself to be-greatly influenced by the way others respond to me" (474). This communication thread is very similiar to Symbolic Interactionism's "looking-glass self" (63). Griffin presents this thread by saying, "Communication affects and is affected by our sense of identity, which is strongly shaped within the context of our culture" (474). Symbolic Interactionism and CMM were two of the theories that I evaluated in the COMM THEORY & ME assignment. Both of these theories are crucial in the creation and reflection of self-image and self identity. We often define ourselves based on the way others percieve us. No wonder we tend to surround ourselves with people that see the best in us, for that in turn, brings out the best even more. That is not to say that we dont have a cjoice in how much we let that influence and shape our sense of self, becasue we do. CMM theorists believe that we jointly create our perception of self, and that identity has a huge impact on our interpretation and management of meanings.

Comm thread: Need for affiliation

Chapter 36
Page 472

"Communication is motivated by our basic social need for affiliation..."(472)."Fear of isolation-loss of affiliation" causes the minority to remain silent. Mutual self-disclosure is one way to avoid isolation, while meeting the affiliation "human need" (472). I really enjoy how this chapter brings things full circle and ties the theories together. The way Griffin groups the related theories is healful for their application in real life sitautions. It is interesting to see how the motivation for communication varies so greatly from person to person, as well as in different contexts. In my philosophy class we have been discussing motives behind actions, and what qualifies an action as being "right." The ethical theories we learned about include act and rule utilitarianism, Kantian ethical theory and egoism. Kantian ethical theory is the only one that takes motives into consideration when defining "rightness/wrongness" of action. According to Kantian ethical theory, if your motive for communicating with someone, is based on acting from duty and good will alone, then your action is considered "good." Sometimes our motivations for communicating are solely selfish and sometimes they are selfless.

A Feminist Dictionary

Chapter 35
Speaking Out in Public: A Feminist Dictionary (Page 461-462)
This entire chapter was like a novel; I could not put it down. It shocked me, but at the same time I was not shocked at all. I think what made my jaw drop was that I was reading things that struck a cord with me. I know in my gut that there are muted groups and as a woman, I am a part of one. The feminist dictionary was made by feminist theorist in order to challenge the, “the man-made linguistic system that keeps women ‘in their place,’(461). I love how the dictionary uses language to place women in the center, rather than the outskirts or margins, of society. All of the examples provided in figure 35-1 (462), resonated with me on some level, but silence stood out in my mind. It is defined as, “Silence; is not golden. ‘There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.’ ‘In a world where language and naming are power, silence is oppressive, is violence” (as cited in Griffin, 462). The sarcastic tones make these definitions humorous, without taking away from their seriousness. I had not even thought about the term family man, as a way to gender pigeonhole or a way to “keep women in their place.” A woman’s concern with her appearance is defined as a, “reaction to necessity”(462) rather than a product of encoding. Yikes! Did any of these definitions strike a chord with you? Being a woman myself, they all pretty much hit the nail on the head. I would like to hear a male’s perspective or take on these definitions. Any takers?

Women as marginalized group

Chapter 34
Women As A Marginalized Group (Pages 444-446)


I like that Wood uses relational dialectic theory as a framework for her standpoint studies because it is one of the theory’s I chose for my Comm theory & Me assignment. She focuses on autonomy versus connectedness to highlight gender differences regarding communicative styles. “Men tend to want more autonomy; women tend to want more connectedness” (444). Is this biologically engrained within genders, or is it the “result of a cultural expectation” (444)? I agree with Wood, in that, “biology is not destiny”(445). The problem is that the minute we are born, we have got the majority of the world telling us who and what we are based upon or gender. It is the first thing that our parents or anyone know about us at birth. It may not be destiny, but we are going to be hard-pressed to fight those labels. Do we ever wonder where the definitions of “what it means to be a girl/boy,” come from? I think that is what scares me the most, is that we do not question the definition, nor who created it. In doing so we further perpetuate it. Griffin sums it up when saying, “People at the top of the societal hierarchy are the ones privileged to define what it means to be female, male or anything else in a given culture” (445). This is similar to “making meaning through discourse” and the power of the press in Chapter 26. Those who are privileged and powerful enough to have a platform are the ones who ultimately create these cultural identities, which are then perpetuated. These cultural identities have the power to, “draw people to the center of society or push them out to the fringes” (444).

Standpoint Theory

Chapter 34
Standpoint Theory (page 441-442)
“A standpoint is a place from which to view the world around us” (441). Standpoint suggests a “specific location in time and space where observation takes place, while referring to values or attitudes” (441). I agree with Harding, Wood and Griffin, in that, “our standpoint affects our worldview” (441). Where we fall on the social latter of hierarchy in any group, greatly affects our perception of the world, others and ourselves. I really like that Harding and Wood utilize this theoretical framework starting from a women’s perspective. The marginalized groups of society are more likely to have an objective view of the world compared to the majority. If you are part of the norm, you are helping to create and perpetuate that norm. If you are on the outskirts of “normal” or in the minority, it is easier to think critically, as you want to find a better way. Being on the outside looking in, gives me motivation to criticize the system. It is much easier to point out flaws, when those flaws are negatively affecting the social group I reside in. The social and gender scripts we learn, make our lives distinct from men, whether we like it or not. I am not saying better or worse, just distinct and separate at times. But is there such a thing as separate but equal? That is a loaded question!

Media Agenda/ McCombs interview

Media Agenda
Chapter 28 Page 360

I went to a fascinating lecture last night, in MLK library, by Professor Cordero about global warming and food. This relates to agenda-setting theory because, as McCombs says, "journalists are message producers" (as cited in Griffin, 2008). Griffin and McCombs make it very clear that what the media emphasize as important, and what they focus our attention on, are the very things that we as a society think about and look at. Thankfully the issue of global climate change is becoming more and more mainstream, and getting more news coverage in the media. But there still needs to be more attention focused on the issue as a global community. Professor Cordero talked about agriculture and food regarding how much energy is used and carbon is emitted in the process. I did not realize that we can actually reduce our emissions by changing our diets, as we can by buying a brand new prius, or riding a bike. The carbon footprint on a jar of skippy peanut butter is 4. That is not too bad compared to a cheeseburger which was something like 15. Don't quote me on this, but I doubt the media has ever covered a story about the link between consumption (namely food) and global warming. I have never even heard of mitigations or adaptations we can each make in order to reduce greenhouse gases, regarding food. Frankly it scares me that the media has not deemed it necessary to focus the publics' attention on these issues. What will it take for journalists to take these things into consideration? Grocery stores like whole foods and trader joes are atleast trying to, on a small scale, keep consumers aware of these things by packaging food with labels such as "air-freighted" on them. Air freighting food is a way to avoid seasonality of foods, by shipping them internationally to stores here. It is great that we can have fresh cherries almost year round at Safeway, but we never really think about how many tons of carbon are emitted in the process of air-freighting that fruit to us. Anyways, I will get off my soap box now, but it is just something to think about. Some food for thought (pun intended). Are there other issues that worry you, that the media makes seemingly invisible? I am curious to know...

Christians' Christian Approach

Chapter 28 (page 369)
Christians' Communitarian Ethics:
"A moral community demonstrates more than mere interdependence; it is characterized by mutuality, a will-to-community, a genuine concern for the other apart from immediate self-interest...An act is morally right when compelled by the intention to maintain the community of person; it is wrong if driven by self-centeredness" (as cited in Griffen, 369).

In my envrionmental studies class: global climate change, we have been talking a lot about ethical theories and how they pertain to choices and mitigations about global climate change. Ethics is the philisophical study of morality; and morality deals with concerns about values and value judgments relating to the well-being of persons. Morality is a sort of convention of language that is perception-shaped. What we view as good/bad, right/wrong, harm/benefit; depend on our values and perceptions from our socialization process. Christian's theory is based on the premise that a community ought to be concerned with morality, regarding mutuality and selflessness. This quote in particular focuses on a persons character more so than their actions. Obviously your character will motivate your actions; actions are defined as what people do, whereas character is what people "ought to do." This sounds to me like a utilitarian ethical theory.

Media Malady Effect

This excerpt about the media malady effect is a powerful statement:

"Negative economic headlines were found to have a significant and negative impact on subsequent consumer sentiment [and] an adverse effect on subsequent leading economic indicators up to a five-month time lag...Clearly news organizations hold the power to effect change" (as cited in Griffin, 367).

It is very similar to the polls. Many times the press coverage on election polls will harm the front-runner. The reasoning for this is that people assume that the front-runner already has enough support, so they assume their vote will not make a difference. Then the runner-up will get more votes, and maybe even sympathy votes in order to keep them in the game. The media and the press can have a black magic or poisonous affect on people's opinions and perceptions. The creation and perpetuation of ideas in media headlines seem to create a self-fulfilling prophecy for the audience that subscribes to those ideas. When someone falls prey to believing a negatively-framed idea, they will almost always act out those ideas subconciously in order to prove to themselves that what they chose to believe is true. This also brings to my attention, the recent stock market crash and recession in America right now. The more people listen to and believe the media, the more they will panic and sell their stocks, which leads to a larger crash in the market. It is an evil cycle; an economic catch twenty-two.

Making Meaning Through Discourse

Making Meaning Through Discourse (Chapter 26, page 337)
Two quotes that really stood out to me in this section. They are about defining insanity, and having the power to make or break definitions or ideas of any kind. Griffin describes Foucault's idea about dramatic change in defining people as insane, saying, “People with power drew arbitrary lines between between the normal and the abnormal” (338). In the last line of the section, Griffin brings this idea full circle, “The right to make meaning, can literally be the power to make others crazy” (338). If you have “discursive power,” some public platform or soap box that reaches across many mass media lines, you then have the power to define, and label people. Once that power is abused, it oppresses people and media then perpetuates that oppression and those ideals used to hold them down. Being in the public eye was made possible by the media. Media, as a globally powered avenue and environment can be used by people in power, thus having drastically positive and negative affects on public perception all over the world. This blurred line is created between truth and fiction, or even truth and reality. Griffin states later in the chapter, “truth has prospered by investigating what is, separately from what we think it ought to be. Hall seems to blur that distinction” (343). The problem is, media and people that hold powerful positions in public discourse, start to deem what is as one in the same, as what they think ought to be. Since we are seeing and hearing them more so than someone of lesser power, we are more apt to believe in the “school of thought” that they are teaching.

The Print Age

Chapter 24
The Print Age (page 316)
I never really thought of books as a way to isolate, and be alienated from others and from the “immediacy of your surroundings” (317). I always thought of reading as something that intelligent people did, to better themselves and gain more knowledge. I am not saying the latter is false, but I am seeing portable books in a whole new light. McLuhan describes the print revolution as the, “forerunner of the industrial revolution” (316). I agree that once we were able to produce and reproduce mass quantities of the same things, nationwide globalization began. He talks more about globalization in the digital age, but this is where it all started. Something that has the potential to making a nation feel unified, was actually stunting our growth and making us feel even more separate and alone (316). Often times when I am sitting in my room studying for a test, or doing reading for a class, I feel very isolated and alone. I know it is something I have to do in order to succeed in my classes, but often times I dread reading because of the isolation it brings. I often enjoy what I am reading, and learn a lot from doing so, but at the end of the day I feel as if I have been holed up in a cave. This can lead to feeling very depressed and lethargic. Study groups are a good way of getting out of that alienation. Unfortunately I have ADD so I often have to control the environment that I study in, in order to retain what I am reading.

The Tribal Age

The Tribal Age: An Acoustic Place in History
Chapter 24: Page 314-315
The act of listening and sharing in a group can form a sense of community, similar to symbolic convergence. In this section McLuhan describes how our sensitivity to sound is an essential tool in understanding and perceiving environments. “The sense of sound works against privatization. Listening to someone speak in a group is a unifying act. Everyone hears at the same time”(315). We are less restricted and have less boundaries with sound and spoken words than we do with sight. Spoken words are unifying, communal, and “lack materiality” (315) because they are arbitrary. Spoken words or ideas are only alive in the moments that they are uttered. Because of this McLuhan says spoken words must, “constantly be shared and reiterated and passed down” (315) in order to stay alive. Without the ability to hear we are “hopelessly unaware”(315) of our surroundings. McLuhan summed up the tribal age in his last line, “hearing is believing” (315). I agree with McLuhan in that, hearing is a much more holistic interpretation of the world around us, and gives us so much freedom with that interpretation and perception.

Narrative Paradigm

Narrative Paradigm
Walter Fisher Chapter 23 (pg. 300)
Narration and Paradigm
Since this section is about defining terms, I will start off by defining a couple of them.
Narration: “Symbolic actions-words and/or deed- that have sequence and meaning for those who live, create, or interpret them” (300).
Paradigm: “A conceptual framework; a universal model that calls for people to view events through a common interpretive lens” (300).
Fisher defines narration beautifully saying, “It is embedded in the speaker's ongoing story that has a beginning, middle, and end, and it invites listeners to interpret its meaning and assess its value for their own lives” (as cite in Griffin, 300). To me this embodies the idea of sharing books with people that I love. I lend books to friends in hopes that they will get something as wonderful, or even better, out of it as I did. It also gives me a totally new perspective on the material when we can then discuss the book. Seeing it from another person's “interpretive lens” gives me so much more to look at, than just seeing it through my own. Have you ever read a book three or four times, and gotten something different out of it each and every time? As time goes by my experiences and newly acquired knowledge change my interpretation of a book I have read time and time again. Perception has a lot to do with what I get from a book, and my outlook on life at that point in time. I enjoy reading books several times, at different points in time, because I always find that more will be revealed, each time. It is like the onion layers of my life coordinate differently each time with the layers in the book.

Redemption Through Victimage

Dramatism Chapter 22
Redemption Through Victimage page 293
There is so much good material to discuss in this section, let alone in this chapter. I was not sure where to begin, or which direction to go. One of Burke's defining ideas about rhetoric is its use, “as a continual pattern of redemption through victimage” (Griffin, 293). He defines victimage as, “the process of designating an external enemy as the source of all our ills” (293). In other words finding a scapegoat to use as common ground (identification) between you and your audience members. I thought it was very interesting how he paralleled the God terms and devil terms with this idea, ultimately portraying the scapegoat as the “personification of evil,” which aesthetically juxtaposes the victim. These opposing terms, and characters make it much easier for an audience to choose the victims side. I speak for myself when I say that as an audience member, I am much more likely to agree with a speaker that I feel compassion, and empathy for. If I feel that we are in the same boat, and are both victims of whatever or whomever the scapegoat is, I will side with the victim. The bigger the gap of opposition between the two extremes, the easier it is to pick a side. If they are too similar, too close in position (golden mean), the harder it will be to decipher right from wrong, good from bad. This obviously has a lot to do with my value system, and perceptions; but if the speaker is good he/she will know these general values well enough to adapt to his audience.

The Golden Mean

The Rhetoric Chapter 21 pg. 286
The Golden Mean
“Aristotle saw wisdom in the person who avoids excess on either side. Moderate is best; virtue develops habits that seek to walk an intermediate path (286). Aristotle called this theory of virtue the golden mean. Within the framework of emotional proof, this idea “struck a responsive chord” (283) with me. As far as I am concerned, moderation and balance in all aspects of life, are the key to happiness, health and success. Think about all the diet programs that push portion control and moderate eating. This also brings to mind healthy relationships, where neither person is too dependent or co-dependent on the other. Workaholism is a disease just like alcoholism, and both are due to overconsumption of their drug of choice (work or alcohol). Extremists are on either side of the spectrum, but nowhere near the middle; thus there is no such thing as a “happy medium” for them. Their life scale is in black and white, and disregards gray. The gray area is the healthy balance in the middle of the two extremes. I enjoyed the suggestions that Aristotle gave for using the golden mean in other aspects of communication in our relationships. He suggests truthful statements as opposed to lies or brutal honesty. Notice how lies and brutal honesty are polar opposites, but truthful statements falls nicely in the middle. He also suggests self-disclosure over secrecy or soul-baring, and courage instead of cowardice or recklessness. I think these suggestions can be utilized not only in our everyday interactions with others, but also in our intimate interpersonal relationships. This “happy medium” and moderate way of life will strengthen our relationships with others. To honor Aristotle's love for metaphors I will close with one that sums up the golden mean. Too much of a good thing.

Democratic Demise

Chapter 20
Free Expression Of Ideas, But No Voice (268)
As quoted by Griffin (268), Deetz states, “The combination of belief in “reality” and cynicism is disastrous for a democracy. The belief that all claims are merely opinions is used to stop discussions rather than start them.”
This quote especially resonated with me, considering the big election coming up in November. Deetz focuses on corporate communication practices, but this idea can be applied to any kind of democracy.
Griffin uses this quote to highlight the importance of not only freedom of expression, but also the right to have a voice, being equally as important. Deetz thought that the emphasis was too heavily weighted on the first notion and not enough on the latter. People need to believe that their voice has purpose and will actually make a difference in the ultimate outcome. If having a voice is not effective, and considered a “mere opinion,” there is no point, and that democracy will surely fail. The foundation of a democracy is that we all have an equal voice, and freedom to express that voice, but more importantly that it be put to use and action. “People won't have a voice if they regard communication as the transmission of information” (Griffin, 268). If “reality” proves this time and time again, it is no wonder that people would be cynical about the process of a democracy; not to say all democracies are this way. Whether in business, personal or political affairs, having an effective voice is crucial for all parties involved, the establishment upholding these rights, and the people utilizing them.

Don't Get Boxed In

Chapter 20 pg. 269
Figure 20-2 “A Morning Exercise” Created by Stan Deetz
After reading the Don't Get Boxed In, exercise by Deetz, I was able to get a clearer understanding of his theory. It is so easy to just be a passive consumer of information, without thinking about who is providing and sponsoring that information to us. A quote that stood out to me about this, “It only shows that all information is sponsored. All data, whether scientific or not, is value-laden and hence political” (269). The author explains that this does not make the information good or bad, it is just value based and chosen from and through those values by the stakeholder. I thought the whole idea of writing your own information about the cereal in the clear containers, was so creative and thought-provoking. I would love to see the different kinds of information on a can of Diet Coke, sponsored by a parent, a scientist, a government agency, a nutritionist, a teenager...etc. There would be thousands of different views of political information, just within those subsets of people themselves. “...government agencies and I have different preferences and therefore produce and reproduce different truths. None of us is more noble or evil by producing a particular truth” (269). I tend to deem people as good and bad based upon the evidence or information they choose to sponsor, but that is unfair of me. Just because my preferences do not align with theirs, does not mean they are bad. I think the point Deetz is trying to make is not about the truth itself, but just the awareness of knowing there are many sides to everything. That information can be manipulated by us and we can be manipulated by it. He believes in a democracy in action, which means being critical, open-minded and aware of as much information as possible.

Symbolic Interpretation of Story

The Symbolic Interpretation of Story, Chapter 19, page 254.

When I started working at Nordstrom, as a personal shopper, I was very excited about the prospect of excelling in such a large company. The opportunities seemed endless to me, as they told me they “promote from within.” I remember my first day of the two week training for the job. The Human Relations director stood at the front of the room and gave us story after story about the foundation of the company, its successes as a company and its successes for employees within the company. She painted a picture for the new employees in that room with both corporate and personal stories. The corporate stories included things about how the founders' sons all started out of the sales floor, just like any one of us. They all had to work their way up, so therefor we are all on common ground. She explained how the general manager of our store is hands on, always getting her “hands dirty” by cleaning, doing displays, painting and even selling at times. This gave us a sense that she loved her job, and that the values of the company include close-ties, hard-work, community, equality and a go-getter attitude. She also told us that the general manager did not get a college degree, in fact she started working at Nordstrom right after high-school. The message she was trying to send us through her story was very clear. She wanted us to see that we all have a chance at being the general manager one day, if we work hard enough. Her personal stories were about her summer internships with Nordstrom, and how after graduating from UC Davis she was offered a position as Assistant Manager of her department and then eventually manager of HR. With her personal story she wanted to be “seen within the organization” (254) as a smart woman who kept close connections in the company during her college education in order to get promoted after graduating. This was all fine and dandy information, and made Nordstrom sound like the best place on earth to work, but I knew better. I had to get the truth, the reality the real story of how things really work within the organization (254). This is where the Collegial stories came in handy. I knew that if I went down to my department and asked a few of my co-workers about their experiences at Nordstrom, I would find out what it is really like to be an employee in this company. The truth prevailed because after getting both positive and negative stories about the company, my own experience at Nordstrom aligned with those stories more so than anything else I had heard.

Hirokawa interview

Hirokawa Interview

Em Griffin disclosed that many times he has cracked jokes during group meetings, in order to lighten the mood. It was interesting that in Symbolic Convergence Theory this would be considered starting a fantasy chain theme, but he wondered if it counterproductive regarding the Functional Perspective. Hirokawa talked about how this could actually help the group to focus on the pros and cons of the situation and even get them to look at it from a different perspective than their own. Even if Em's intention was nothing more than lightening the mood due to boredom, the function of his action could help the group interaction. Hirokawa explains this as, “one of the great intriguing aspects of group communication. That is, how you intend your message to function may not at all function in a way that you intended. There’s an irony there, but it is a reality” (as cited in Griffin). The most crucial question asked by Griffin was how we know the difference between a good decision and a bad one. Hirokawa notes goodness or badness as a “subjective judgment” (as cited in Griffin). I agree that what might be considered a good decision made by one group, could be considered bad by another group. It is all based on who is going to be affected the most by the outcome of that decision, and who it is in favor of.
I find myself using this technique when making big decisions in my life. It would be very ineffective and potentially harmful to bypass weighing the pros and cons of an outcome. Hirokawa explains this approach as the groups, “ability to evaluate the positive and negative aspects of alternate choices prior to making a decision” (as cited in Griffin). He also claims this to be the most essential of the four steps in Functional Perspective.

"Communication Matters"

Chapter 18
Interactions: Concerns of morality, Communication, and Power
Griffin cites Pooles theory of interaction saying, “Group members are 'skilled and knowledgeable actors who reflexively monitor their activities as they navigate a continuous flow of intentionality'” (239). I remember dialogue being defined as, intentional interaction and communication with another person. So group dialogue is an essential way of guaging patterns. We use reciprocity and symmetry in groups just as much as we do in one on one communication interactions. I notice that when I am in a group, I tend to take the leader position, because I am comfortable with that. But if I notice people feeling uncomfortable about that, or someone else wanting to step-up, I usually back down. In other cases, I have seen a need and desire for equilibrium among members. I try to reflect and provide those needs by using turn-taking and non-verbal language cues to show active listening, as well as respect. I like how Griffin also uses the word “navigate” (239) to describe group members interacting. Other people's nonverbal and verbal language help us to steer our communication in a favorable and smooth direction. The more cohesive navigation among members, the better the outcome. Intention has a lot to do with that, because most everyone in a group most likely wants to be there, so their desire for smooth navigation is shared. Predictability is unattainable in group settings unless you hear the dialogue, as Griffin says, “Communication matters” (239).

Pros and Cons

Chapter 17 Page 225-226
Evaluation of positive and Negative Characteristics
It is very easy to get stuck in a rut of negativity in a group setting. This section in chapter 17 is about weighing alternative choices and comparing them point by point. Two terms that the author uses are “positive bias” and “negative bias” (226). Griffin defines positive bias as, “ favorable characteristics of alternative choices [are] more important than identifying negative choices” (226). Negative bias is when, “the unattractive characteristics of candidates carry more weight than do the positive attributes” (226). I know that I can be easily swayed to overlook the reality of situations good or bad, when in a group setting. Sometimes we get carried away, as if we all just blindly jumped on this runaway band wagon. I forget that the positive bias can be just as destructive as the negative, because you miss out on truly weighing out any or all of the cons. These kinds of bias opinions in a group leaves you in a haze, not able to decipher between fact and fiction. Thus the importance of having a group leader or a set of rules (goal setting) to keep things on track.

Tug-of-war

Week #5 Blog # 3 (not yet posted)
Chapter 12: The Tug-Of-War (pg. 155)
This section of chapter 12 had some pretty insightful quotes that really got me thinking. “On the one hand, a centripetal, or centralizing, force pulls us together with other. On the other hand, a centrifugal, or decentralizing, force pushes us apart” (Griffin, 155). According to Baxter and Montgomery, “'From a relational dialectics perspective, bonding occurs in both interdependence with the other and independence from the other'” (as cited in Griffin, 155). I did not realize how important and crucial that tug-of-war can be to deeper relational growth and even allows for more social penetration to occur. Sometimes I want things to be so smooth and perfect all the time, that I begin to fear arguments, debates or “contradiction”(155). It was nice to read this and see that I can look at it as a positive thing. Since it is bound to happen in all close relationships, I might as well reframe it as a positive. Once you overcome contradictions and tensions in a relationship, you are that much closer to the other person than ever before.

Double Blind

Trapped in a System with No Place to Go (page 175).
This section in chapter 13 reminded me a lot of the “strange loop” theory that dealt with the child with aspergers. If the parents treated him like he had the disease, and gave him compassion, love and acceptance, he started acting and feeling better. But once he started acting better, they questioned his disease, and began to hold it against him. Their changed behavior and attitude towards him, in turn made his symptoms worse, which led them right back to where they started. It seems to be a catch 22, evil cycle, much like the once explained as a “double blind” (175). The author described this with sayings like “you ought to love me” or “be spontaneous” (175). How can you demand someone to love you or to be spontaneous? Doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose? You are damned if you do, and you are damned if you don't. This lack of symmetry in any relationship is unhealthy and can lead to many resentments. I know from experience that expectations are just resentments waiting to happen. If you give freely, and love freely, not asking or expecting anything in return, you will be much happier than not. It is kind of like reframing in a sense, because you are choosing to look at whatever you are giving, as a gift with no strings attached. Therefor if you get something in return you will be pleasantly surprised and delighted. And if you get nothing in return, you will not be let down, nor will you feel asymmetrical in the gains and losses of your relationship. I love how all of these theories and terms link together in some way or another. It gives me a fuller picture of communication theory and how it relates to almost everything in our lives.

Lack of Context Cues

When reading about the theory's of CMC (Computer mediated Communication) in regards to its inherent differences from face-to-face interaction, I was most interested in the lack of social context cues theory. This theory pertains to online communication and how most, if not all context is lost in internet or text based communication. Not being able to pick up on, or see others non-verbal cues leads people to make assumptions or misunderstand the message being sent. The author notes that in this type of communication exchange, people tend to become, "self-absorbed and less inhibited" (Griffin,138). I have noticed that in emails, Instant messages or text messages. I become much more gutsy than I would in person, often saying things I would never normally say, or saying them in a way that is out of character for me. The author defines this as, "flaming- hostile language that zings its target and creates a toxic climate for relational growth" (Griffin, 139). "Lost in Translation," comes to mind when I think of this theory and virtual communication in general. Many things can be lost in translation from email to email, text to text and so on. A few of the things that can be lost in translation through textual or virtual interactions are: sarcasm, silence, pausing, laughter, a sigh, body language and many other cues that help us communicate better with one another. Don't get me wrong, I do not think virtual communication is all bad, but there are certain things that are better to relay in person than others. You just have to be very aware that misunderstandings are more likely than not to occur. In turn, that awareness will help you to be more clear and ask more questions in order to have a better communication interaction.

Berger Interview

The Berger Interview reminded me of survival of the fittest, but socially speaking. In order to adapt to change we have to “track those changes,” in our environment, which is continually changing socially and physically. Using things like experiments and textual analysis communication scholars aim to help us track these changes in our environment, giving us empirical evidence in a social construct. I like how Berger talks about the co-construction of relationships and how we are programmed with software (language and memory), and societal scripts that essentially guide us in our interactions, new and old. Griffin defines axioms as, “self-evident truths.” I think by using axioms the predictability and testability are more evident and these factors strengthen Berger's theory.
This interview is so interesting to me because it shows how we can quantify even the most seemingly unpredictable of human behaviors. When Griffin says, “go test it,” he relays that there are many things out there that we try predicting, so why not test them to see if our hypothesis or something as informal as an inference can hold up to theory. I find myself using uncertainty reduction in interactions all the time, and not even knowing or realizing what it is I am doing. It is easier to seek out common-ground and understanding of the person you are interacting with. I have created my own mental realm where I infer and make assumptions based on knowledge and experience about past interactions and relationships. We have to feel people out before just rashly responding to them, if we want positive feedback or a well-met response.

Reciprocity

Chapter 10
I chose to focus on the “reciprocity” concept in chapter ten, on page 127. Griffin describes that people tend to mirror their partner in terms of vulnerability and willingness to self-disclose (127). I did not realize how important reciprocity is in the beginning stages of relationship building. In order to have a balance of communication, people approach dialogue with caution. It is kind of like the ping-pong effect, where you send a message of vulnerability and your partner sends one (of similarity) back to you. We try to keep things going back and forth when sharing stories and experiences as to not let one person be the, “exclusive holder of potentially embarrassing information” (127). Now that I look back on many conversations with friends, I realize that the friends I felt most comfortable with were the ones that shared with me as much as I did with them; not more and not less. I always knew it was awkward when they shared less, because you feel like you are out on a limb all by yourself. But when others share more than you, that can also leave you feeling uncomfortable. As if you cannot meet them with empathy or reciprocate their feelings. Sometimes this is because you do not have much to relate on, other times maybe they are dominating the conversation. Berger does not typically, “anticipate long monologues at your first get-together”(Griffin, 127). But have you ever been on a first date, and you cannot seem to get a word in edge wise? It is kind of awkward, and at times you question why you are even there. Later on down the line as you get to know someone more intimately, uncertainty is much lower because patterns and familiarity are formed.

Closeness Through Self-Disclosure

Chapter 9
The section “Closeness Through Self-Disclosure,” is something I think we all can relate to in regards to our interpersonal relationships. It can be hard to let your guard down and be truly vulnerable to others. Griffin talks about various ways to open yourself up to another human being in order to form a closer bond with them, but the predominant way is through self-disclosure. (114). He defines this term as, “the voluntary sharing of personal history, preferences, attitudes, feelings, values, secrets, etc., with another person; transparency” (Griffin, 114). I like how the last word sums up the whole definition. To me transparency means to be see-through, almost naked from the inside out. There are certain people in my life that I have opened up to enough that I am like an open book to them now. That can be very scary, but also quite rewarding. Like the onion illustration on page 115, a passage was cut, making it possible to return repeatedly. So once I let my guard down, and let that person in, that line had been crossed, and there was no turning back.
I have a tendency to want to guard my heart with a protective shield. I will intentionally or sometimes subconsciously put up walls, as to not let others in too close. I want to have meaningful, deep intimate relationships with family, friends and even my boyfriend, but in order to do that I have to take a risk. That risk involves fear and hesitation on my part due to being hurt in the past. If I keep things on a surface level it is easier, less risky and I feel more in control. But I am sacrificing a lot in order to protect myself, and am left feeling void and lonely. I used to try keeping everything from my mom because I was always afraid she would turn around and use it against me as “emotional blackmail” (115) or it would come back to bite me. Maybe this worked for a short while, and I did not have to worry about projecting my own fears onto her because I was not even giving her the opportunity to judge or support me. But inevitably our relationship suffered from shutting her out, and as a result I suffered. Once I started letting her back in I realized that the risk I took was most of the time if not always worth it. There was the occasional fifteen percent of the time that it came back to bite me, but the other seventy five percent of the time I gained support, closeness and deeper intimacy with her.

Chapter Five: Reflections in a looking glass

The section about "The Self" in chapter five, is particularly interesting to me. I have, as well as many of my close friends have struggled with insecurities and feeling like we are not "good enough," according to societies standards. It is easy to get swept up into what the "other" deems as beautiful, good and successful. This section sheds light on that becuase it is such an interesting paradox about how we need that self-comparison in order to create a self, but yet that very thing can lead to an unhealthy creation of self. If we do not abuse it or take everything as fact, it is beneficial and obviously necessary for us to create our self-identity. Many times it is abused, especially at a young age when critical thinking is not as strong or prevalent to you.

The author explained it quite eloquently, saying, "I can only experience myself in relation to others, absent interaction with others; I cannot be a self" (63). I like the way the self is described as an object, since we have been taught to take on and assign roles to ourselves and others based on the language we use.

Gossip vs. Dialogue

The Phenomenological Tradition

The kind of wisdom that comes from life experience and communicative interactions is something that cannot be formally taught. The fact that no two people have the same exact journey in this life, is what makes communication so unparalleled and fascinating. In chapter four, the author cites psychologist Carl Rogers, saying, “Neither the Bible nor the prophets-neither Freud nor research-neither the revelations of God nor man- can take precedence over my own direct experience” (as cited in Griffin, 49). This powerful statement resonated with me on several levels. I feel that our own unique experiences on this earth give us so much more wisdom and insight than any study, book or class can. We can never really stand in someone else's shoes. This being said, there are steps we can take to connect with others on a more personal and fulfilling level.
Did you ever notice how people use gossip as a way to bond with others or build intimate relationships? Gossip is so volatile and shallow, it leaves participants feeling void afterwards. It is an unhealthy and easy way to make small talk, or try to connect with others. After reading the section on phenomenological tradition, I was able to see how to strengthen and build a healthy rapport with someone else. It might not be as “easy” as gossiping or talking about the weather, but in order to have a firm foundation for a strong relationship you must put some effort into it. You reap what you sew. The three necessary conditions that Rogers found to aid in relational growth are: “congruence, unconditional positive regard, and empathic understanding”(50). His example deals with therapists and counselors making a safe and comfortable environment for their patients to open up. I think this tradition can be applied to all human interactions and relationships.
To try to relate to someone on such an intimate level not only takes intention, but also mutual respect from both participants. I really like the authors definition for dialogue, “an intentional process in which the only agenda both parties have is to understand what it's like to be the other” (50). Any thoughts on this definition? Think about how much you do or do not use gossip as a communicative tool? Just some food for thought. I would love to hear your own opinions and experiences.

Socio-psychological tradition applied to "An Inconveniant Truth"

I found the socio-psychological tradition theory in chapter four, to be very interesting as well as useful in my studies right now. I just watched “An Inconvenient Truth,” in my environmental studies, global climate change class. After watching the documentary we discussed how communication is such a powerful tool that can move and inspire people across borders. According to the author there are three causes of persuasive variation: who, what and whom (Griffin, 42). What is presented, the way it is presented, and who presents it and as well as audience perception, need all be taken into account. All three cause have a direct link between a statement being mere information, or becoming persuasion. Source credibility has a lot to do with persuasion to change among audience members. As a viewer of the documentary by Al Gore, I found him to be a very credible source. The majority of my class agreed that Gore's sincerity and passion were great factors, contributing to our belief in him and his argument. Griffin states that expertness is more crucial than character as far as ability to change audience members opinions (43). By making this documentary, Gore not only got his message out through a mass media public arena, but he was also able to travel city to city to personally present it. Griffin explains that the persuasive effects on source credibility, regarding expertness, only have long term effects, when there is a re-established connection between the source and its message (43). The publicity and mass media response to Gore's documentary and his speech tour became the link between the source (Gore) and the message (global warming). Thus making his credibility that much more effective and significant in “boosting opinion change” (43).

I love being able to apply what I am learning in all of my classes, and this is a prime example. I enjoyed watching the documentary not just as an information consumer, but as an educated and critical thinker.

Chapter Three: Weighing the Words

I really enjoy the way the author ties in movies, broadway shows, and other things of that nature as a way of hooking the readers attention. This makes it easy to relate to and apply to the outside world as well. One of my favorite concepts in this chapter is the way the author, Em Griffin, describes fantasy. Many people think of fantasy as something unreal or false. The way Griffin describes it paints a clear picture when he says, "In a small-group setting, this defi nition includes any reference to events in the group’s past, speculation about what might happen in the future, and any talk about the world outside the group. The term does not cover comments about actions taking place “here and now” within the group" (Griffin, 28).
If you think about it, when you are daydreaming or "fantasizing," you are not present in this moment, you are somewhere else. It makes complete sense that the term "fantasy" be about the past or the future, but not about right "here and now" (28). I can easily apply that theory in my own daily life. I can tend to regret the past or be anxious or fearful about the future, but then I am not present nor am I experiencing life as it is happening all around me. There is a time and a place to use "fantasy," for instance in small group settings, but it can also be an obstruction in daily life and happiness.

Back to school

I am looking forward to taking this course. I have been trying to take Comm. 101 the last three semesters, but for some reason something would always go wrong. I am so glad that it did, because it is giving me a chance to take it now with Professor Coopman. More proof that everything happens for a reason. I have already started taking my upper division Communication Studies classes, so I am kind of doing things backwards. Better late than never. I am hoping to use the skills I learn in this class to further my knowledge in researching and communicating, so that I can apply them to my remaining upper division courses. Best of luck to everyone this semester; and I look forward to our virtual communication!