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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.