Our task this week is to have a conversation with a stranger, this conversation should then be used to stimulate an idea for a series of images. My initial idea for this task is to have a conversation with a person on an online chatroom, I hope this will then stimulate an idea for my series of images.
The reason I wanted to use an online chatroom for my method of conversation is that I am interested in the idea of how people now a days often spend a lot of time on the internet or their phones talking to people rather than talking to people in person. I decided to research about new technological communication.
I looked at articles that looked into how we are ‘losing the art of conversation’:
- ‘They point to how the mushrooming ubiquity of digital interaction – through emails, texts, tweets and other apps – is replacing conversation, and even degrading our facility for it.’
- ‘Some mobile phone companies report that many customers no longer use up their entitlement of “free minutes” – instead it’s all about the texting and online services’
- ‘In other words, we have arrived at the extraordinary position in which we have more digital conversations than “real” ones’
- ‘”What they mean by that is that they’d rather have control and be able to do their little side of the conversation when they are relaxed, when they can edit and also, they sort of want to broadcast their little side of the conversation.”‘
- ‘people are making meaningful connections through technology. I interact with my sister a lot more now that she has e-mail. I’ve made dear friends through our online magazine whom I’ve never met in person.’
- ‘one of the side effects of these virtual connections may be my generation’s disturbingly anaemic skills for face-to-face conversation.’
- ‘we are further and further from knowing the stories of the people with whom our paths cross only once in a lifetime or daily.’ < this point alone links to why I want to look at online chatrooms as a source of communication, I want to see if I can get to know a person in enough detail, even though as soon as i shut my web browser it is likely I will never talk to them again.
- ‘Listening attentively to the story of a stranger and sharing our own experiences has the potential to create surprising connections, challenge our assumptions and heal loneliness.’
Both articles look at how in this digital age people tend to use devices or social media to communicate to people rather than face to face conversation. I myself admit I would rather quickly text someone a message than pick up the phone and call them; I do this, one because it is quicker and more convenient, but I also can ‘edit’ and change my message to suit what I want to say. This idea of editing is another interesting area when it comes to the digital world, people feel more confident behind a keyboard rather than face to face as they can edit and get the ‘perfect’ message to send to someone; furthermore on social media sites people chose what they post and share, and can show people their good life, rather than all the bad bits as well. The reason I want to base my task on an online conversation is because I want to challenge if you can get to know someone through the internet. This is a wide topic and I plan to look into the issues and debates around the digital world and conversation.
After my initial idea and looking into how people tend to communicate through social media and devices, I decided to use the online chatroom strangermeetup.com; this chat room allows you to talk to a stranger anonymously; you can choose how much information about yourself you give out, this would allow me to see if you can get to know someone through the internet.
My first ‘stranger’ I was paired up with ended up to be a man called Hunter from Louisiana Baton Rouge, USA. At first our conversation was forced, and it was the typical ‘where are you from, what do you do’ questions; however over time Hunter began to get more comfortable with me, telling me his name, and age, as well as personal stories. The relationship between Hunter and I grew and the more we talked the more Hunter trusted me with personal information. In the end we spoke for a good few hours and I learnt a lot about him, some of the key points I picked up on included:
- Stranger:i enjoy fishing because wen i was growing up my grandfather took me out almost everyday all the way till i got grown then he passed away. i also like hunting playing guitar singing and movies
At first during our conversation we just spoke about hobbies and basic information, however even at the very start Hunter knew I was interested in talking to him like a normal conversation, as I told him I had to have a conversation with a stranger for my uni work, he still gave me quite personal information like the reply above. He told me why he enjoyed his hobby of fishing, and his reply was very sweet and seemed genuine. From this little bit of information I gained details about him but also could see how his family are important to him; below I continued and asked him about his family and their importance.
- Me:Are your family important to you then?
- Stranger:lol oh yeah family is very important to me if all else fails you still have your family to go too
This was a very sweet and real reply, that I could relate to as, no matter what I have done in my life, my family have been behind me supporting me all the way.
- Me:It’s nice juts to get away from the buzz of people
- Stranger:oh yeah i live in the back woods i try to stay away from the buzz
- Me:I would love that, so are there not many other houses around you?
- Stranger:no not really the nearest one is a mile down the road not counting the cajun village up the river a ways
- Me:do you live on your own? I bet it’s so peaceful where you live
- Stranger:yes i do i have a dog bo yes its very peaceful no noisy neighbors the cajuns keep to themselves mostly
- Me:aww what breed? Do you like living away from people, does it ever get lonely?
- Stranger:it does get lonely at times and ole bo is baset hound
- Stranger:but being single aint so bad it has it good and difficuot sides
- Me:Thats true, if gives you freedom I guess. Aww they are cute
- Stranger:yeah hes my bud lol lazy mutt tho. yeah but freedom aint everything im only 27 but it woild be.nice to have someone
After talking about his family and their closeness, including how they all meet up every Sunday to see each other, we spoke about how Hunter lives on the outskirts of the city in the swamps and woods. This interested me and he has chosen to live away from people and live almost in isolation; Hunter admitted he gets lonely sometimes and only has his dog for company. This made me think about how people often isolate themselves from the world, but I also question that due to his isolation from lots of people in real life does Hunter use social media and chatrooms as his form of communication with people, meaning that he is not as isolated? Or does his own isolation in his location echo the isolation within the computer, he is using choosing to sit on the computer and talk to people rather than talk to people in person. This idea of isolation from people really interests me and could be something that I look into for my series of images.
Talking about his Grandma,
- Stranger: oh yeah shes a character
- Stranger: she always hollering wen you gonna settle down find yourself a lady i tell her the same thing everytime when im ready and find the right one she goes well ya best hurry your ass im 84 i want great granbabies ii aint gonna be around forever
- Me: Haha, bless she sounds so funny!
- Stranger: oh yeah she can get ya laughing in two mins of meeting her faster if she dont have her teeth in
- Me: haha she does sound a right character
- Stranger: lol yeah she calls me tiny
- Stranger: im 6 foot even 220 pounds fit body she finds it hilarious
- Stranger: she hollers with no teeth HEY TINY BRING ME A COLD ONE lol everytime i go to visit
Towards the end of the conversation Hunter went into a lot of detail about his Grandma, and I could see how much she means to him, these personal details were very touching and relatable to. I could see how our trust and relationship had progressed when looking back at our conversation, by the end of the conversation Hunter told me a lot of personal information and was comfortable doing so, showing that he trusted me even though we have never met.
The idea of trust is very interesting here as I questions to myself can I trust Hunter and what he is saying, is he making everything up? Catfishing is the phenomenon of internet predators that fabricate online identities and entire social circles to trick people into emotional/romantic relationships (over a long period of time). Even though our friendship is not long term, Hunter could’ve been making up the whole thing, and this makes me think about who I can trust when talking to people on the internet, it also links with the idea of people ‘editing’ their lives to make people think they have the perfect life. I will never know if Hunter was telling the truth, however my gut instinct tells me that he was, as some of the information he told me seemed so genuine and realistic, I couldn’t imagine anyone making that up, but I will never know if that is the real Hunter or if that is Hunter at all.
From talking to Hunter I have had a lot of different ideas that I could look into, I plan to research and look into the ideas around isolation as well as looking into ‘catfishing’ in more detail.