After looking back over the work that we’ve done – readings, analyses, dialogues, etc. – I wanted to evaluate more cohesively (or rather, broadly over the scope of interpersonal communication) this notion of the underlying defense of the “self” in communication and the “person” we portray to others as ourselves. This idea intrigues me, perhaps, because I feel that in his “Great Debates” blog post, Johnniedrama was able to successfully describe my personality (with having only very limited conversations with me – in cyberspace). What I found more interesting (and this, I feel, is a key distinction!), however, is that his description of my “cyber-space personality” more closely aligns with my Myers-Briggs personality type than people who I meet and work with (in group settings) would be likely to describe.
And now, with that topic in mind, I set out to explore the Group Dynamics weblog. The first post I clicked on was entitled, “Time To Decide, What Will You Create?”. Steph writes, “The challenge is to craft agreement and participation.” True, and while this may not have to do with my interest of investigating the topic of creating our “selves,” it certainly is an important point to consider when working with each other. After reading through the entry and posts – and finding mention of the idea of conveying one’s “self” in akademakid’s comment – I returned to the main page.
In a comment made in response to “What are you/we going to produce?!”, moses84 agrees with akademakid’s belief that he/she is “censoring” what he or she is putting into writing or in the blog. Moses84 states, “I also find myself holding back what I think in order to make sure that I am heard clearly, and what I’m saying is not taken in as noise,” demonstrating an understanding of effective group communication but also an awareness of the vulnerability (or portrayal) of “self.”
After scanning quite a few subsequent posts (after the initial getting-to-know-you), I came across some interesting comments in response to “reminder: After Dachau” (more along the lines of, now-that-we-know-each-other-these-perceptions-have-changed). Right off the bat, ehanft refers to a change in comfort level amongst the class. Watching the subsequent conversation progress, it is fairly clear to note that the “optimistic” or “positive” posts focus on the common goal of the class – to create a wiki site. I liked abccccc‘s comment, “This is the only class that I can remember all the names of my classmates.” But I loved the posts that appeared after Steph’s comment and analyzed the former posts. Churchofgoogle, aligirl22, ap1115, and others identified and evaluated behaviors and traits of their fellow classmates (?). Granted, it is my understanding that these bloggers know each other in person (as classmates) in addition to cyber communications – but they more than able to pick up on seemingly subtle characteristics demonstrated in online dialogue.
So, I must ask the question I so eagerly ask of other studies: Why is this so important?! Perhaps my other group members (or others!) will be able to answer with a different viewpoint, but it seems pretty clear to me that we are constantly creating (and defending) our “selves” (whether we intend to or not). Further (and this is an important consideration with group work), others take in and interpret the “selves” that we present – and react (arguably, defending their “selves”) accordingly. So… again, this is important because we should be conscious of the “selves” that we are presenting – if we are aware that we may be “on the defense” we can make a conscious effort to soften those defenses, and at the same time be aware that other group members (fellow communicators, etc.) may feel similarly.