Looking back to when we were assigned the CPE, nearly half a semester ago, I remember thinking: Wow, I could do anything. There are so many possible routes. I started off with too many questions, questions about things that I wasn’t even all that interested in investigating. Then, in our initial discussion, you helped me to gather my thoughts and point me in the more focused direction of taking a deeper look at the way we communicate with others and considering what is different about those relationships because of how we interact.
Then I got way off track for a bit. Started going down the road of writing an introduction for a photography book, getting caught up in what might be said about photos using words. With a few false starts on that idea, I realized that this wasn’t going anywhere, like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole kind of deal.
After that I thought it would be a good idea to engage the neighbor lady—knock on her door, write her a letter, and speak with her on the phone. She had mentioned in one of our conversations that she had been going through old photographs and throwing out the ones of people she no longer recognized. This was intriguing to me, but it turned out I didn’t have the energy to follow through on stopping by before the end of the semester. We’ve spoken several times on the phone since, and I will follow through eventually. I had to let that idea go, too.
Back to what I ended up referring to as “the nature of communication.” It seemed natural to dive into this after all. After Thanksgiving, I started reaching out to friends and asking them about their tendencies—How do they prefer to keep in touch with people? What is it like to doing so through social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, texting and phone calls, letter writing and spending time in person? What is different about the relationships as a result of having so many ways of communicating at our fingertips?
Turns out, people are overwhelmed sometimes. I took a step back and analyzed my personal relationships—What sort of effort was I putting in to staying in touch with my friends? It wasn’t a matter of how great or poor the quality of the friendship is, rather a reflection on how we choose to be active or inactive. Ghosting was an interesting new term that I discovered when listening to a podcast that was recommended to me by a friend during a personal interview.
The images and writing that I incorporated into my CPE are somewhat personal which is why I did not choose to post my project online. The handwritten letters, the email and text messages. I also described a recent social gathering in attempt to capture the sort of interaction that occurs wen we are in the same room with people; what happens when we show up and decide to be present with others. How is that different than using somewhat incomplete sentences to respond to a text message, or simply click on peoples’ photos?
I did not incorporate audio or video like I imagined I might. It made sense for me to stick to the prose. I think I spent quite a bit of time considering other ideas, and then life and my other classes and assignments came down hard at the end, making focusing even more challenging. Time management is something that was a problem for the first time really. I had to hold on to my intention to finish in order to do so. Finishing what we start is what it’s about. I learned that I can only stretch myself so thin, and that in the end it is all about getting the work done. Though my process getting traction on this project was trying, it was an achievement to finish, to pull through. I did this by getting outside of my comfort zone and examining what I was familiar with from another angle and reaching out to others to gain outside insight on the nature of communication.