Saturday, January 31, 2009

My 31 Year Old Friend

When thinking about bridging social capital I was pleased to realize that I do so. I have a couple of friends that are over 30 years old. Often times I feel like people focus too much on finding friends their own age when really you can have strong friendships with people of many different ages. We are all human beings and something as silly as how long we have inhabited the earth shouldn't keep us apart. In fact, by becoming friends with people of all ages we bring our world closer together because we begin to understand how and why people of different generations think what they do. A greater understanding of one another is created through diverse friendships therefore bringing about a better understanding of the world. In this interview I ask 31 year old Erin F. about social capital in her life.

When you were my age how socially active were you?

I wasn't very socially active because I had a hard time finding people like myself. I was very busy with school work and my college didn't really offer that many clubs or groups to be a part of. I was, however, part of the tennis team.

Are you apart of any clubs or groups now? Why or why not?

Yes, I belong to a tennis league but I don't really hang out with people outside of tennis. We don't really have any other interests in common other than tennis. I don't really search out clubs because I find group activities annoying. I work better on my own and have always been more of a home body. My older sister, on the other hand, is very social. She is always attending some sort of event and has a lot of friends. For me, I go for quality rather than quantity and would rather have 1-3 close friends.

How many hours a day do you spend watching t.v. or being online? Do you think this affects how socially active you are?

Probably 2-3 hours a day. A lot of computer activity is work stuff. I don't think it really affects me socially. Some people may see it as a way to avoid the outside world but I don't. Sometimes watching t.v. shows can actually give you something to talk about with your friends!

Do you know the names of your neighbors? How often do you see them?

I know the names of 1 of my neighbors. I think the last time I saw them was last spring. I do chat with them if I see them but our schedules are different so it doesn't really work out for me to see them. I am not really that outgoing when it comes to my neighbors.

Have you ever participated in a political event like a rally?

No, not a rally but I do vote.

Do you think being socially active was more important when you were a teenager than it is now?

Yeah, because I don't think people feel that it is as safe to do things like go outside and see your neighbors anymore. I think the generation right below me has less social skills because of the introduction of technology. I feel like your generation has a very indirect way of being social because of technology like cell phones where you can text message everything.

How Much Would You Sell Your Right To Vote For?

For the most part it seems like everyone I interviewed was pretty enthusiastic about voting. The majority of people wouldn't sell their right to vote either because they think it is important to have a voice in our government or that it was fought too hard for to be sold. I think my data shows that there is definitely still hope for social capital in the U.S. If most people think that they should vote it means that we still feel a sense of importance about our nation as a whole. If people think voting is important, then the tradition and the idea of the voice of the people is still alive. As long as the right that we all share doesn't become worthless to us, I think we will at least have a satisfactory amount of social capital.
Very few people were selfish in their answers, which shows that we do care about one another. Even when people would sell their right to vote it was usually so that they could help other people.
I wouldn't sell my right to vote because I am not motivated by money.
I wouldn't sell it because voting is important.
I would sell it for as much as the national deficit at the time of the election without tax deductions. If I could get that much money I could serve a lot more people than the politician I'd choose.
No, I wouldn't sell my right to vote because it is a connection to every other American. It is a right we all have to change things together.
No, I wouldn't sell it because people had to work so hard to get the right to vote. We shouldn't take it for granted.
I wouldn't sell my right to vote because it is important to our citizenship.
No, I wouldn't sell my right to vote because it is a human right and I believe in the virtue and practice of human rights.
I wouldn't sell my right to vote because it is too important.
No, because it is my responsibility as a citizen to have a voice and if I sell my right to vote I have no voice.
No, because I believe your right to vote is part of being a U.S. citizen and if you don't vote you don't deserve to be a U.S. citizen. If you don't vote you don't have the right to complain about society.
I wouldn't sell it for anything because there are a lot of people who don't ever have the right to vote. Why would I be selfish and give that up?
1 billion dollars so I could get all of the homeless people somewhere to stay.
I wouldn't sell my right to vote for anything because I have to have a say in everything. Plus, money just comes and goes.
I wouldn't sell it for anything because I want a chance to make a difference.
200 million because I could travel the world.
I wouldn't sell it. My grandfather told me I could never sell my vote because we worked too hard for it. I've never believed in selling myself for anything or that anyone should sell themselves.
I wouldn't sell my right to vote because it isn't just about me but about my children and grandchildrens' lives. Voting isn't about my own personal gain. There is too much at stake to not have a chance to make a change in the world. In reality though, I'd have to really think hard if someone offered me millions and millions of dollars.
Do You Trust People?

As we navigate the world around us we encounter many people we don't know. If we aren't acquainted with someone does that mean we shouldn't trust them? How do you know if someone is good or bad? These questions often race through our minds if someone approaches us in the grocery store or asks us for a favor. Living in a time when the media plays such a huge role in our lives it can be difficult to trust people when we are constantly being told about the awful things people are doing to each other. It is important that we be cautious when in the presence of someone new, but shouldn't we trust that they are probably a good person? In this lab, I investigated how much people trust other people that they may or may not know. I asked them, "On a scale of 1-10 how much would you say you trust people?" Overall, my results show that we have become a people that have lost a simple trust in one another.


5 because people suck.

5 It depends on what I am trusting people on. If it's about details in their life I'd believe it, but if it was something people were prone to lying about I would not.

4 because people are selfish, fake and full of sh**.

4 because you hear about all of these bad things happening in the world and automatically assume people are bad.

8 because that is the kind of world I want to live in. Kind and trusting.

5 My trust depends on who the person is.

8 because it is my hope that people live in accordance with the Golden Rule.

8 because most people are good.

4 simply because the Bible says not to put your trust in man.

8 because most people you can kind of tell if they are lying or not.

7 because I like to give people a chance. It is like the idea of innocent until proven guilty. I am careful to judge people.

5 You can trust some people, but the ones you trust are always the ones that will let you down.

3 because I don't believe in people.

5 I think most people are mostly good, but caution still needs to be taken.

8 I know I shouldn't but I just do. I trust everybody.

4 I don't think people are that trustworthy.

In reality a 7, but when I think about it a 3. I think that instinctively I would trust people and that there is a certain basic goodness in people.

I believe that it is important for everyone to know about events and tragedies that are happening all around the world. We can often get stuck in our own little bubbles where we only care about our favorite celebrities and local news. If the media was run how I would like it to be run, there would be more coverage on topics like the conflicts occuring in the Congo. Until recently I must admit I did not know about the fighting and issues in the Congo. If I were not taking Civics and Economics I may never have known. I've learned that I need to start becoming a more active person in researching world news and sharing my findings with others. I hope by writing this message on the brick wall of the dance building I will arouse interest in my peers as well. It is time we all start caring more about each other and the world around us rather than just our own selfish needs. Perhaps by starting a world awareness group social capital as well as knoweledge about world affairs could be gained. hmmm...
Facebook Friends

All of these new social networks that have come to life definitely have their ups and downs. I too feel that friendships may be “cheapened” by sites listing how many friends you have. However, the positive side of keeping in contact with people that you may have otherwise forgotten about outweighs any negative effects. I know that Facebook has helped me to build stronger friendships with people I already know from school and also to keep in touch with people that I knew in my old hometown. By looking at peoples’ pictures, tagging them in photos, and leaving them friendly messages, stronger bonds are formed. By having a Facebook you can find out about events that are happening between your friends and when your friends’ birthdays are. Also, I find it much easier to leave a friend in a different state a message on their Wall rather than finding the time to call them. I know it might be better to actually talk with someone on the phone but time is at a premium. At least through a friendly message your long distance friends will know you still care about them. As far as people “getting dirty” on some social networks, I think that everyone just needs to be cautious. As long as you take precautions by only being friends with people you know are decent people, you can avoid any explicit content. Like anything else, people need to make an effort to reap the benefits of social networks. If you just get a Facebook and expect it to magically make you a more social person it’s probably not going to happen. However, if you use Facebook wisely and continue to leave your friends messages and pictures it is almost guaranteed that you will build social capital. By keeping in touch you will become more involved with your friends lives and maybe even meet some of your friends, friends.

My Family and Social Capital

My dad is a mail carrier, my mom is a receptionist, and I am a student. Yeah, I’d say our social capital isn’t too bad! Each week, my dad delivers mail on a total of five different routes with an average of 600 residences and businesses per route. On each route he interacts with a variety of people with different intelligence levels and occupations. He has come to know people that are wealthy, poor, black, white, young, and old. Everyday he comes home from work with a new story of someone that he has befriended or has helped out around the house. He has shoveled peoples’ driveways, raked a yard for an 87 year old woman, read prescription directions to an illiterate man in his sixties, comforted a man who was in a motorcycle accident, and has been a good listener to people who need to tell their stories and sorrows. Each day is an adventure for my dad and he builds social capital everyday he goes to work.
Being a receptionist, my mom also deals with a vast amount of people. She works at a kitchen and bath design company where she greets clients everyday and is known as the face of the company. Whenever someone calls the company she not only directs them to the designer they are working with, but also gets to know each person she talks to. She asks people about their lives and gives her opinion about cabinets and accessories when people are making decisions. My mom speaks with cabinet vendors and installers. Through her job she gets to know many people around Winston-Salem who she might never have known otherwise. She generally deals with people who are quite well-off but still builds social capital through her daily communication with many people.
Going to a boarding school for the arts has definitely helped me be more successful at building social capital. I’ve met people from different states and spend each day getting to know people better. I am at school with my peers, teachers, and faculty more than I am at my own home. I spend hours a day at school speaking with people that have different opinions, beliefs, and personalities. I learn about the ways other people view the world and what the goals of other artists are. I’m a part of a group of performers that support each other and learn from each others differences.
Although my family is pretty good at building social capital there are still some ways that we could make more. While we have involvement with others at work and school, our full schedules often prevent us from joining clubs or having friends over on a regular basis. When we come home from our busy days we have to find time to clean the house, cook meals, do homework, and, heaven forbid, sleep. I could probably make more of an effort to hang out with different groups of people more often, but it can be hard to do this when I am on the mission of making sure I get everywhere on time and get my work done. My family is guilty of having our private little cars of seclusion and can be considered the 2.6 people per family, but hey who can blame us. My family does the best they can each day. We eat dinner together every night that I am home, spend quality time with one another, and know most of our neighbors. Maybe if everyone in the world wasn’t so obsessed with getting even richer and even more successful we would all have time to build more social capital.