How people communicate (Transcript)

Produced by Sandra Kinzer and Cadence Bambenek

Sandra Kinzer: The city of Madison is a diverse community. But just how do people of different backgrounds communicate, whether it be economic, educational, or ethnic? A professor in the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism is studying how people converge around different topic areas through social media.

Dhavan Shah: For example one of the projects I mentioned – digital divide pilot project – was where we had people from inner city Detroit and rural areas of Wisconsin and they were all interacting together on social networks around different topic areas. In some cases it was about mindfulness and spirituality which was less religiously focused but more about meditative and self-control states, in other cases it was more around religion and religious beliefs, and those groups interacted as long as they had common themes that they shared, it was less about their demographic differences and more about their shared interests.

Cadence Bambenek: In a similar way, students on the UW campus find friends based on common interest areas, like Syaza Nazura.

Syaza Nazura: Yeah so sometimes we try to do like discussion sections that people can just come and talk about things happening in Malaysia. So last year we hosted one that we were talking about the races in Malaysia, like how, right now there’s a conflict in Malaysia, talking about all of these different races and how one is superior to the other, I can’t remember the name for it, white privilege. They were talking about it back in Malaysia first. there’s three main races in Malaysia, so there’s the Malay, which is me, and the Chinese and the Indians. Because the Malays are kind of like the people who were there in the first place. We were talking about how the Malay should get all of the rights, the Malay should be like higher than all these… So whenever we have an event … while we eat we talk about what’s happening in Malaysia and like what we can do from here to help out or things like that. What can we do after we graduate? So mostly I hang out with Malaysians. like my group of friends.

CB: Emily Yee, another student we talked to, discussed navigating life on campus and the impact of having friends from a diversity of backgrounds.

Emily Yee: Sometimes I feel like I have to navigate someone else’s space. I feel like sometimes I can’t make it my own. I’m part of Asian American Student Union, and I was a lot more active in it my freshman year, but, that’s kind of where I met a lot of at least my Asian friends in Madison so we do talk a lot about, it’s mostly about similarities between how we’ve grown up, especially with family ideals, like kind of I guess you could say we always talk about our parents, like how we’ve been disciplined as kids. when there’s like a space for it ASU like provided me a space for it. I’ve lived in a lot of areas, so a lot of my friends are from very different backgrounds.

CB: Do you feel like people in Madison do a very good job of interacting with people of different backgrounds than themselves?

EY: The student body could use a little work. There’s a lot of, I’ve met quite a few personalities, that kind of have this air of arrogance, or like entitlement, like this is my space, I know what goes on. I kind of wish I would see more intersections, they all seem very compartmentalized. They’re kinda like, here, here, and here. I wish I could see like more interaction. I think like the next step would be to merge. Even though we all look very different, we all come from different backgrounds, we should still be able to feel like we’re a part of Madison.