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Technology: Good for Maintenance and Mobilization

Submitted by 1000 Conversations on May 22, 2014 - 9:41pm
Insights on technology from conversations at a camp

The impact of technology on how we interact and connect has been an ongoing discussion throughout this campaign. Check out these previous blogs for some of the ideas that have already come forward:

Community, technology and Health: A (potentially) lethal combination

Technology: changing how we communicate

Technology came up again in conversations tied to camp. Camp is a place that builds deep and strong community by getting people to leave their technology at the door and just be together. This is done because technology is often seen to take us out of the moment. Technology moves us into our heads- to another place and time. Where camp creates space for us to connect authentically, bruises and all, technology is manufactured, allowing us to present the side of ourselves that we want the world to see. There is no doubt that technology helps us connect on a much larger scale than we ever could before. We can keep in contact with old high school friends or mobilize with thousands of people around issues we care about. Technology has allowed us to master the weak link and the casual friend. The big question is: how can technology also encourage deep connections? 

When asked this question, Willowgrove camp director Miriam Reesor shared how they are using facebook to help keep campers and councilors connected beyond the camp. They are able to share pictures and share old stories. It makes people feel a continued connection to the camp.  The key piece is that the relationship is already established;  it is based on a face-to-face history. Because of this we already know the person, we know the way they talk and their sense of humor. This allows us to pick up on the subtleties in their communication that can be missed if you do not know the person.

Another recommendation was using closed groups. This puts a boundary on who can see and participate which helps strengthen the group's sense of identity. Miriam shared how she uses this to stay in contact with family: it allows her to share with everyone in the group simultaneously thus creating more of a group-like atmosphere while keeping everyone connected.

Ultimately, the key insight was that technology can be used to reinforce or maintain deep relationships that are rooted in face-to-face experiences. Without the face to face connection, the online relationship can be artificial.

To learn more about how one group is exploring technology as a tool to build stronger and deeper communities check out this blog:

A platform for community empowerment


Deep online relationships?

Has anyone else seen Robert Kenner's documentary "When Strangers Click"? Online interactions can foster deep romantic connection (or at least what is understood as such).  Just as relationships that started with face-to-face contact, online relationships don't always work out.