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Opinion

Editorial: Time to log off, look up, and listen

We speak to fewer and fewer people in a meaningful way. And this is in spite of, or even because of, innovations in social media and communications

We speak to fewer and fewer people in a meaningful way. And this is in spite of, or even because of, innovations in social media and communications.

So the theory of philosopher and historian Theodor Zeldin: Text messages and facebook lose us to those who are in our physical vicinity, putting us into ‘bubble lives’ insulated from everyone but a smaller and smaller circle of friends and acquaintances.

In the end we lose the basic ability to get to know and understand each other.

So much for the theory. In practice, we jump out of our circle in many structured social situations where we end up talking to strangers anyway: All students, Danish and international, bachelors to PhD, do this whenever they start new classes, or are forced into new groups and projects to work.

But there is something to be said for the spontaneous meeting with a complete stranger.

So we decided to put Zeldin’s theory to shame. We sent out our reporter to the Studenterhuset Café to try and get people to step outside their circle of friends and meet strangers. We asked you about it in a survey. And we talked to experts.

We can’t answer the claim by Zeldin. Our observations at Studenterhuset seemed to prove it. Our survey among students seems to disprove it. And in the meantime the experts have not yet formed a consensus.

Maybe we should just take the Zeldin theory as a warning: Get off your facebook once in a while. I mean. We are starting a revolution here! Look up. Approach the stranger. Respond to new people. Wait for their answer. And listen.

miy@adm.ku.dk

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