Crash Into You

Elizabeth-Burton Jones
January 23rd, 2012
Week 2

Crash Into You: A Brief on Communicating in a World Full of Broken Strings and the Possibility of Mending the Strings Through Theory


Lack of communication. Those three simply powerful words can bring most communication students to their knees. The very sound stings the ears and makes the stomach turn. Then suddenly, a flood of questions from the outside world washes away all certainty of a possible legitimacy of the communication field. Why did it happen? Why wasn’t the communication student there to save the day? Don’t they know theories? What exactly does a communication student study any way? Next, the observer realizes that the communication student is human and cannot solve every single communication blip in the world.

But, still there is lack of communication and as current communication students, we have the obligation to know these sorts of theories that are displayed in the readings for this week.  However, even though we have this obligation to know survey the surface of communication theories, it is often difficult to transform these messages in the everyday “real world”. For the first weekly writing, I would like to explore the question of: Where and when are “meanings” in communication and information? But, I would like to change the question to address the theories and ideas.

Philosophical Speaking:

Throughout this week’s materials, I gathered that we must work with what we have including our current existence and everything that influences our thoughts. Each person is different and follows different ways of thinking about life and communication. The substance lies within the residue of our differences. This residue can often cloud our perception of communication and how to properly communicate to other humans. Yet, it has the power to alter the perspective on communication.  I could not help but to think about Jean-Paul Sartre and the philosophy of “essence precedes existence” in that our past experiences have a profound impact on our existence. To further relate this to our readings, we could add that our essence impacts the existence of our communication.  In other words, we are seemingly somewhat defined by our trained ways of communication and these lessons overshadow our way of communicating as a whole. I think I will delve into Sartre later in the course, but I would like to just take note.

Space and Time:

In the “James Carey: Communication as Culture”, the words “space” and “time” jumped out at me. This reminded me of Kant’s way of thinking about Space and Time.

“Space is not something objective and real, nor a substance, nor an accident, nor a relation; instead, it is subjective and ideal, and originates from the mind’s nature in accord with a stable law as a scheme, as it were, for coordinating everything sensed externally. (Ak 2: 403)
In this one sentence, we find a list of many important early modern questions concerning space. Is space “real,” or is it “ideal” in some sense?”(

With this information related to the “James Carey: Communication as Culture” idea of the ritual, we could possibly explore the idea of reality of the ritual and the ritual in the reality. In the end, are we creating an ideal? And if so, why?

On a musical note:

In the “An Ecological Model of the Communication Process”, Davis Foulger mentions that we use languages “both learned (proposition 6) and created (proposition 7)”. With these languages, we all have a set of languages. We all come to the gathering place with all of our languages and the meanings that make up the languages. For instance, in the music world, we all have our own interpretations and pay homage to different musicians. Accordingly, we also associate certain tunes with different artists. For instance, if I quote “whatever my man is, I’m his, forevermore” I (Elizabeth) am quoting the movie, “Lady Sings the Blues”. This movie is quoting the life and times of Billie Holiday. However, to someone else, they might think that I am quoting Barbara Streisand. Yet, another person might think that I am quoting Lea Michele on Glee quoting Barbara Streisand. But, at the very moment that all of these different interpretations are going on, as suggested in a 505 lecture, each different opinion “is relevant and valued”.

Click the links for music: Diana Ross, Billie Holiday , Barbra Streisand , Lea Michele

Digital Divide:

Digital divide and communication. Various people have noted that communication is changing because of the digital age. I might want to explore this in another weekly writing.  However, for this weeks reading, I think that it is important to note that communication can be weakened by the use of digital tools. We can lose face-to-face communication skills. By replacing face-to-face with screen-to-screen we can adversely effect other skill sets needed.

Crashes Together:

But what if they crash? As an undergrad communication and theatre arts student with minors in history and Spanish, I was constantly bombarded with theories of communication and required to apply these theories to different contexts based on the subject. In my interpersonal communication course, I remember looking into theories and different studies involving proper communication. One example that we used in the class was the movie “Crash”. We studied the various cultural contexts and norms and how they all blended together. In relation to this week’s readings, I cannot help but place society into the “Crash” dialogue.


We all are leading various lives. We come from different backgrounds. In DC, you really don’t talk to strangers. We are in our own little worlds, with our own views of the American Dream and how we can achieve it. In some situations, when people do decide to break the wall of communication, it is often mortared back with insidious competition, threat of success, and jealousy. Then, the wall is painted with a digital sheen of division perpetuated by targeted advertising.

Therefore, we are separated. There are many “gatekeepers”. In some situations, the gatekeeper could be a variety of things. The gatekeeper could be a cellphone when a person gets a call. Sometimes we have the option of ignoring the call. The “gatekeeper” or scapegoat could also be a cell phone when someone is avoiding someone else. The gatekeeper could be the phone during a conversation. For instance, if I am talking to someone through my phone, this person becomes the audience. I can use the gatekeeper phone to monitor mute my side of the phone, hold the call, etc. By the same token, if we make communication a two way street, then we can see that at one point the audience member will switch roles with the speaker and with that the roles can be changed. Another gatekeeper could be headphones. If we plug them in, then they keep us away from the crowd. They have their own implications. For instance, after a few of my studies as an undergraduate, I had to do a very observational studies. In these studies, I observed that the cellphone was sometimes used as a gatekeeper when it came to ignoring people. People could pretend that they were on their phones to avoid the audience of the busy hallways. To further exemplify these ideas Davis Foulger says, “The caller in most telephone conversations has the initial upper hand in setting the direction and tone of a a telephone caller than the receiver of the call (Hopper, 1992).In face-to-face head-complement interactions, the boss (head) has considerably more freedom (in terms of message choice, media choice, ability to frame meaning, ability to set the rules of interaction) and power to allocate message bandwidth than does the employee (complement).”( “Models of the Communication Process” Davis Foulger)


This relates to “Crash” because it all relates to the world now. There are so many gatekeepers in our world today. Each person has their own American Dream. Each area has certain standards for competition. We can be separate. However, when there is such an absence of communication, within an instance we could crash and finally talk to one another without the gatekeeper. Then and only then can the true form of communication come out to play with no strings attached.

Additional thoughts:

“The first is that communication is used by people (a term which is used here to refer not only to Homo Sapiens Sapiens, but to any intelligent communicator). In an age where we are seriously looking to see if we can find evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence and there is growing evidence that at least a subset of animal species communicate, it seems reasonable to extend the term use the term person to refer to any intelligent entity that can use tools to transmit meaning to another intelligent entity. The second element of the definition is the assertion that communication is a process. Communication is not a a thing. It is a means of enabling things. The third is that the object of that process is meaning. Meaning is a thing. Communication is a means of processing (e.g. constructing that thing sufficient to interpretation of) that thing.” (“An Ecological Model of the Communication Process” Davis Foulger).

Additional Musical Selection:
Some DMB never hurt.

What happens when thoughts crash into each other?
How do we address the fundamental theories and practices of Communication in the Digital Era?
Are digital tools changing our definition of communication?
If we are to carry conversations or transmissions from the past around with us in the present, how do we avoid the minutia of the criss cross in the future?
What is real communication? Do we only recognize it when we crash?

“Models of the Communication Process” article written by Davis Foulger.