Not Signed-In
Which clippings match 'Comfort Zone' keyword pg.1 of 1
26 JANUARY 2016

Interview: Zygmunt Bauman: 'Social media are a trap'

"Q. You are skeptical of the way people protest through social media, of so-called 'armchair activism,' and say that the internet is dumbing us down with cheap entertainment. So would you say that the social networks are the new opium of the people?

A. The question of identity has changed from being something you are born with to a task: you have to create your own community. But communities aren't created, and you either have one or you don't. What the social networks can create is a substitute. The difference between a community and a network is that you belong to a community, but a network belongs to you. You feel in control. You can add friends if you wish, you can delete them if you wish. You are in control of the important people to whom you relate. People feel a little better as a result, because loneliness, abandonment, is the great fear in our individualist age. But it's so easy to add or remove friends on the internet that people fail to learn the real social skills, which you need when you go to the street, when you go to your workplace, where you find lots of people who you need to enter into sensible interaction with. Pope Francis, who is a great man, gave his first interview after being elected to Eugenio Scalfari, an Italian journalist who is also a self-proclaimed atheist. It was a sign: real dialogue isn't about talking to people who believe the same things as you. Social media don't teach us to dialogue because it is so easy to avoid controversy… But most people use social media not to unite, not to open their horizons wider, but on the contrary, to cut themselves a comfort zone where the only sounds they hear are the echoes of their own voice, where the only things they see are the reflections of their own face. Social media are very useful, they provide pleasure, but they are a trap."

(Ricardo de Querol, El País, 19 January 2016)


abandonment • armchair activism • being-in-the-worldclicktivismcomfort zonecommunityconnection made to measurecontroversydifferent perspectivesdigital lifedigital technology and human relationships • dumbing down • echo chamber • Eugenio Scalfari • feeling in control • identity performanceindividualisation • individualist age • insular communitiesliving in a shared worldloneliness • opium of the people • performativityPope Francis • real dialogue • sensible interaction • social fragmentationsocial interactionsocial mediasocial networks • social skills • sociologistspectatorship • trap • Zygmunt Bauman


Simon Perkins
02 DECEMBER 2012

University students face a constant stream of questionnaires designed to assess the standard of their courses

"I'm more bothered by the underlying assumptions about what makes good university teaching that lie behind many of these surveys. You can see them particularly clearly in the National Student Survey, and the reams of student feedback it publishes online – explicitly, so it says, to help prospective students choose a good course, and to help universities 'enhance the student learning experience'. ...

OK, I can see how at first sight that might seem obvious. Who, after all, wants to see their kids go off to university, at great expense, for a diet of dis–satisfaction? But, from where I sit, dissatisfaction and discomfort have their own, important, role to play in a good university education. We're aiming to push our students to think differently, to move out of their intellectual comfort zone, to read and discuss texts that are almost too hard for them to manage. It is, and it's meant to be, destabilizing.

At the same time, we're urging them never to be satisfied with the arguments they are presented with, never to take things on trust, always to challenge, always to see the weak points, or to want to push the argument further. Then along comes the National Survey, treats them as consumers, and asks them if they're satisfied."

(Mary Beard, BBC News, 2 December 2012)



2012anonymityassumptionsbureaucratic reductionchallenging conventional thinkingcomfort zoneconsumer culturecriticismcustomer satisfactiondepersonalising • destabilizing • discontent • dissatisfactionHigher Education Funding Council • honesty • Mary Beard • National Student Surveyperformativitypower without responsibilityquestionnaire • RateMyProfessor • satisfaction • satisfied consumers • satisfied students • student feedback • student learning experience • suggestions • surveysurvey form • survey-fatigue • surveysteaching • think differently • TripAdvisor • trusttrust and reliabilityundergraduateuniversityuniversity educationuniversity teaching • useful comments


Phil Nodding

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