This month’s Socrates Café question:

“Are we facing dramatic changes in human communication?”

gr8 question, what do u think? c u soon.

18 Responses to “July ‘09 Socrates Café”
  1. Russian Paul says:

    Tod and this is a very good question! for me it is sometimes hard to comunicate becase i do not know the WORD of how you say it in english or sometimes there is NO word at all! sometimes one Russian word is only said with three or even more english words. can you believe this?!? and other times there are english words that when you say this it does not have sense in Russian. i am learning it so donot worry though. you must read and talk very much to learn a language. so this is not as darmatic as you think it is. Jerry will probably think somehting else but i wonder WHAT?!? i am ready to talk with him about it because i am loving to have these good thinking talks! but Tod you should also paint these questions! HEH; you can do this! can you paint someone talking Russian to someone talking english?!? you can do it! you can make us see their tungs throuh their faces like with your dog!!! please have eyes the same.

  2. Rob says:

    I think we primarily discussed means or vehicles of communication last night. For example, the internet, facebook, and twitter are all relatively new mediums of communication. More so than what we communicate, those examples have changed how we communicate. To me, a dramatic change in communication would need to include a change in the way people think and perceive the world.

    Using a historical example, academics will often choose not to label America’s Revolutionary War a Revolutuion, especially when compared to the French Revolution. The argument goes that in France the country’s mores and ideas underwent radical change, while in America such change never materialized.

    As useful and enjoyable as the new technoligies can be, I will be truly impressed when people can transcend their current and ingrained views and become more openminded.

  3. Randy Zeitman says:


    (That’s all I got)


    (I’ve even run out of right parenthesees.

  4. Bruce says:

    The question de jour, “Are we facing dramatic changes in human communication?”

    “The medium, or process, of our time – electric technology is reshaping and restructuring patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of our personal life.
    It is forcing us to reconsider and re-evaluate practically every thought, every action, and every institution formerly taken for granted.
    Everything is changing: you, your family, your education, your neighborhood, your job, your government, your relation to “the others. And they’re changing dramatically.”
    The Medium is The Massage, 1967 Marshall McLuhan

    I would love to believe the answer is “yes,” and though I throughly enjoyed the discussion, it focused on the means of communicating—might we have left the question of “…human communication” unexplored?

    There were contributions with hints of answers—”…my children seem to feel they need a reply immediately…” and “…the constant chatter seems to be about nothing important…”— for me, both point to an observation; that these new means of communicating are not deepening or encouraging understanding between people, but are providing a superficial confirmation that the speaker is “still here” (or “hear”, if you will)— a deepening narcissism.

    The “communication” appears to be less about “sharing with another” and more “confirmation that the self is still here,” and the “other” is there only to confirm that fact—”human communication” seems less important that “self confirmation” and would explain another observation from a group member. People seem more inclined to seek out others who are already believing what they are inclined to believe—forcing learning, a sometimes painful experience, overboard. We seem less eager to use our new means of communicating for learning and more willing to use it to strengthen our prejudices and find others who confirm us.

    This was what I was hearing between the words, and evidence of it being real is how Talk Radio pushed the practice and belief of a “Balanced Journalism” of the past, off the front page…

    Marshall McLuhan also wrote, “We shape our tools and afterwards our tools shape us.”

    Nowhere is there mention of a belief we will be more able or willing to share our feelings and thoughts more completely with each other—I naively believed that was the promise of “human communicating.” In the end, if McLuhan is correct, the answer to the question is “yes, change is inevitable, ” but I am left asking, “why do we seem so unable to raise the bar for the “purpose and how we use” these changes?

    Maybe I am off point — thinking of human communication. I am wondering why warring Neanderthals and warring Americans appear so similar—and how little progress has been made in finding common ground and communicating to change our “perceived needs” and the implicit need to war—between siblings or nations.

    I’m now thinking that is not the function of human communicating, to “know” oneself or another better—perhaps the change is, “I’m going to let you know much faster that I’m coming to beat your ass” or that we’ll know sooner, “…someone is coming to beat our asses.” tweet tweet

  5. Arlene says:

    Randy, I can not believe that’s all you got! One of the main problems I see with the different modes of communication (emailing, texting) is that the recepient is unable to determine the tone of the message, thereby altering the true meaning of the message. It is interesting that we now have many more modes of communication but that does not necessarily mean it results in clearer more accurate information.
    PS: I would love to see that picture if you paint it Todd…..great concept.

  6. Paul Halpern says:

    This month’s theme sounds great — I wish I could have made it up to Bryn Mawr.

    Since I didn’t have the opportunity to communicate in person, here’s my opinion delivered electronically.

    Quite simply, I find the communication opportunities of the internet (MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, email) amazing and mind-opening. On the other hand, they are time consuming, and I often pine for the simple joys of just getting together with people in person.

  7. Russian Paul says:

    YES! did you know that when i first came to the US i thouht that hanburgers were HANDBURGERS?!? I did not think they were burgers made from hands (no silly!) but that they were burgers that persons to eat with their hands! this was comunication problem! but then Frank told me that it was HANBURGERS and he did not know why. but not hands. and this way i learned and this way i say to now and forth. i do tweet and it is very for person and making of friends! you can tewwt me too at! I LOVE THIS!

  8. Randy Zeitman says:

    Yes, we face dramatic changes… the Internet has exacerbated the ease to which humans can ‘escape’ from the character building exercise of participating in the world one-on-one.

    When people escape they don’t get validated and they seek alternate methods to mitigate the existential angst (lonliness, anger that they’re not getting validated) and fast food is right there as the #1 drug of choice.

    The media thinks there’s an obesity epidemic…but it’s actually a shame epidemic (flght, escape, however you want to call it). People equate freedom with choices and the result isn’t happiness, it’s confusion. Buzz Aldrin thrived on boundaries…after Apollo 11 they were gone and that existential angst drove him to drink… “to escape” (his words on NPR).

    People turn to legal solutions instead of personal ones, the word “modesty” is alien to most anyone under 40, and the more people you have (a city) the more anger…. why wouldn’t cities be friendlier than towns?…aren’t there more people to find validation from?

    The more options the worse it is to thrive…. too many people, too much freedom, too many choices. I completely believe conservatives are on the whole happier because in their myopic existence they have boundaries.

    See…isn’t that all just crystal clear? (yea right).

  9. Russian Paul says:

    randy! Buzz Aldin can drink yes, but not more than YURI GAGARIN! he can drink so many litres of vodka to make you fall in the floor and yelling for him to stop! Yuri is my many heros. You must read more about russian space to learn it here

    i know this word modesty! in russian we say Я несу тяжелое пальто, и Вы не можете видеть, что мое храброе свисает! this is how it means. i have met so many peple in towns and they always say hi! i am sometimes lonliness and obesity too!

  10. Arlene says:

    Now that’s the Randy I looked forward to hearing from! You are smart beyond your years. And yes, I heard that NPR interview too. It was kind of sad but I understood what he was talking about. Humans…..we are so fragile.

  11. Bruce says:

    Russian Paul—in a selfless act of communication, allow me to share with you the accepted spelling of the food you cite in your example that “Frank” has misspelled: Hamburger.

    Though… there are stories of actual hands finding there way into the grinders of large meat processing plants, which could bring us around full circle—making you correct with what you began with…handburgers.

  12. Bruce says:

    correction: “…finding their way…”

  13. Russian Paul says:

    bruce! thank you for this talking but i am saying about burgers from beef and not ham, but i know there are both kinds in US! this is a perfekt idea of why comunicating in US is hard somtimes! it is like how you have you, your’e and youre and you use a different one for different ways! or like how in China you must have many difrent greetings for men and women if they are old, young, or middle. it is very hard! why donot we all talk the same way, you see? this is a comunicating problem that is older than twitting!

    but yes! i do not want hands in my grinders! HA! thank you bruce! i will tell “Frank”!!

  14. brad rothman says:

    “Are we facing dramatic changes in human communication?” —well, let’s see. ‘facing dramatic changes’, changes that are drama ladden, heavally affective–‘facing–implying unavoidable–human communication: Does media change the brain/thoughts in their essence is the question to b asked. I think that is what is really being addressed. Walking one step further away from another changes communication dramatically.

  15. Bruce says:

    Russian Paul—just to be clear—the food is called and spelled — hamburger — and we are told it is made of beef. It is not made of Ham…at least I have never heard of Hamburgers made from Ham.
    So to make it clear — Hamburgers are made from beef, not Ham.
    Beef Burgers are called Hamburgers…even if they are made for McDonalds, in which case they are made from Soy beans and “beef by-products.”

    What are “Beef by-products” hummm? ? ? (not yummmmm) … little left over pieces of who-knows-what, from who-knows-where. This is rarely discussed.

    But not Ham. Ham would be real meat; not red but white meat, also called the “other meat.”

    I hope this is now clear enough for you to correct Frank with authority. Then he too can be clear about the name and contents of America’s simple food. Hamburger.
    (To be expansive, there was a time in 1970’s America when this was called by one, John Belushi, “…Hamboyger -Hamboyger-Hamboyger…” but thats another story and there was no Ham in the Hamboyger, either.)

    Perhaps picking up the theme, we can jointly submit a question at the next Cafe: “What is a Hot Dog?” (you don’t actually want to know what is in a Hot Dog—but no Ham there either)

    Bacon is made from Ham…but it is not called Hambac or Hamcon. But I can’t tell you why. (maybe those names were taken for something else…)

    Well, I hope I’ve helped make that clear. :—)

  16. Russian Paul says:

    bruce! thank you again for this talking! i did say to frank that these burgers are from beef and he said that he did know it all this time! i think he can lye, but perhaps this is true. i have had this burger at mecky D’s and it is very much not like ham so i do think this is right. i woud like to try a hamboyger! what is this made from? you did say soy and beef by-product and this is tasting?

    I HAVE had HOT DOGs! i know that to make these it is to make sevral animals into heavy pasting and push them into tubing with much salt and spicing but it is still taste good you see? best to not eat too many thouh, bruce. and now i will tell you a thing that i know bruce! in Russian we call bacon Бекон or also точно отрезанный живот ветчины and it is made from slicing the stoma of a pig and NOT ham which is pig leg. you see? more talking! thank you brice!

  17. Todd Marrone says:

    While most of the world thought there was one too many Yakov Smirnoffs, “Russian Paul” believed there was one too few.

  18. Russian Paul says:

    yes and Tod I did know that who you say Yakov Smirnoffs is really Naumovich Pokhis and from UKRAINE! but I know in US he was very funy. He is not as funy in Russia. thank you Tod!