ISSUE: Is Technology making us more connected?

NOTE ON THE USE OF MEDIA: You are free to use any media you wish in these controversies. For example, wordpress will let you type in text, or embed videos, pictures, or sound. For those interested in multi-media embedding in your posts, we recommend the use of the Viewpoint website (developed at MSU) to easily record and embed audio and video.


Is technology making us more connected?

[NOTE: The chapter has two parts, a "Yes" and a "No" side of the controversy. Each of you is only given one side to read for this part of the assignment (randomly assigned). The course website is "aware" of this assignment, and automatically provides the correct side of the issue for you to read. Thus, only read the part assigned to you through your login to the course website, and not somebody else's login, or through sharing readings with someone else.]


Work with the following people to develop the PRO position:

Develop your opening argument here: [Click here to edit that position]

Pro Discussion 1. Technology gives us opportunities to “join” where we would not before due to affordances of asynchronous communication, which is more convenient when juggling busy schedules, etc. 2. Tech gives us an alternative “location” for interaction–it can take the place of neighborhood bars, cafes, etc. that are not as predominant as in the past as shown in the Hampton study “Neighboring in Netville” 3. If one of the symptoms of disengagement is distrust, then tech might actually counter the trend by providing a more “neutral” space to know people better without the distractions or prejudices of superficial qualities–race, gender, looks, etc. So people who would not otherwise get to know each other well may have the opportunity to do so in a tech environment. The social interaction and tension behind the creation and joining of groups can be made less overwhelming through technology. 4. Likewise, if there are traits like race, religion, political affiliation, etc. that could potentially create connections between people, but they are in different geographic areas, they may be more connected to these groups through technology and that tech space may offer them a safer space to share honestly with others like them–I am thinking of the other article we read in which African Americans actually had more friends via social networks. 5. Isn’t it possible that the author’s “long civic generation” is just an anomaly of history, and we are actually just returning to a longer term norm of less engagement? If that’s the [...More...]

<< Read & Comment >>

The following group will develop the CON position:

Their opening argument is:

Controversy3 Prep6 The CON position The causes of disintegration of social capital (as defined by civic engagement, volunteerism, voting, and trust in the system) in America have been posited to be rooted a number of shifts in our communities: busyness and time pressure; economic hard times; residential mobility; suburbanization; movement of women into the labor force; disruption of marriage and family ties; changes in the American economy; The 60s (disillusion with civic life, Vietnam, Watergate); growth of the welfare state; civil rights; and the rise in television viewership. Examining and understanding this development is vital to our continued success as a democratic republic and a people dedicated to both individualism and the greater good. When social capital falls, civic engagement falls. With the decline of civic engagement goes also a great deal of human interaction and involvement. It is this very involvement — our connectedness to one another and sense of community — that promotes social welfare, establishes peaceful intentions, and allows us to live beside one another in harmony. In analyzing data about each of these potential causes of the decline in social capital, only one explanation is borne out by the data and also by common sense.  Television viewership increased exponentially at the same time that civic engagement decreased; tracing this current phenomena back to its roots, we find it first unfolding during the 1950s. This fact seems counter-intuitive to our Cleaverized view of that decade, but the fact remains that the massive behavior changes that Americans made [...More...]

<< Read & Comment >>


Using the technology of your choice, engage in an open debate about the topic with your assigned partner.






You should now switch perspectives, and offer your best understanding of the CON position (no copy-pasting):

Develop your perspective reversal statement here: [Click here to edit that position]

By increasing the quantity of communication and reducing the substance of conversations that once challenged people’s beliefs and intellectual structures, technology has watered-down the interactions that once built and sustained the social capital necessary for a self-governed people.

<< Read & Comment >>

Your debate partner will also switch perspectives, and develop their best understanding of the PRO position:

Their perspective reversal statement is:

Controversy3 Reverse9 Technology connects us. Beyond the obvious examples of putting us in touch with old friends, allowing us to stay in constant contact with our loved ones via texting and social networking sites, and being able to stay up-to-date on occurrences across our state, nation, and globe, Technology also deepens the human experience. Because interaction is what drives social capital, technology has allowed for the exponential explosion of human-to-human connections. Not only are we “plugged in” to others, allowing us to text, IM, or chat with them regardless of where we are or what time zone we’re in, but we’re also able to more easily communicate with one another in other forms. Even in an asynchronous technology environment, we are able to quickly transact communication needs. There is no down-time of several months as we’re waiting for the Pony Express or 4-7 days for the USPS; there’s simply the waiting for someone to check their email. The wait is a matter of choice: the person on the other end has the power to choose to answer or not, certainly, but we’re not being denied communication on a basis of landslides or lazy mailmen who hide their day’s letters in a rented storage unit. Choice is an important element of the technological connection. In some ways, there has been a social cognitive shift due to the ubiquitous nature of technology. Decreasingly am I required to participate in social events that I have zero desire to attend. Instead, I can choose [...More...]

<< Read & Comment >>


Work with your debate partner to develop a consensus statement between 125 and 250 words

Develop your consensus statement here: [Click here to edit that position]

The unidirectional nature of the television and the rate at which Americans consumed the technology and its programming pulled Americans out of social gatherings and into living rooms, therefore disengaging them from that which produces social capital. However, technology is no longer unidirectional. [...More...]

<< Read & Comment >>

Leave your response!

You must be logged in to post a comment.