Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Group Three: Final Synthesis

Upon starting this project, our group was unsure what topic to choose. We did not have a clear concept of what would ultimately be required by the assignment, and thus, unsure what topic of discussion would be the best one to choose. Eventually, after brainstorming, we decided upon the topic of gay marriage. We felt that gay marriage has received substantial media coverage and would give our group a plethora of information to analyze. Also, though this is a controversial subject eliciting strong feelings one way or another, the majority of the group seemed to be of a similar mindset in regards to the subject which allowed us to focus on the way that the subject of gay marriage is reported and discussed without our own ideologies hampering our ability to work together.

The common hegemony regarding marriage is that it is an institution between a man and a woman. This has been reinforced the hegemony that romantic relationships are also between a man and a woman. As the American culture continues to evolve, so do the conceptions of what is acceptable in terms of relationships. While people disagree on the morality of homosexuality, most agree on the inherent freedoms as Americans guaranteed in the Constitution. As the American culture continues to evolve, so do the idea of these inherent freedoms. Homosexuality, once something that was taboo and kept from public view, has become a more accepted concept in American life. The idea being that regardless if one understands another’s sexual preference, as Americans, we are all entitled to do what makes us happy provided we do not infringe on another’s right to the same freedom.

While more conservative people may grudgingly accept this train of thought, the concept of gay marriage intrudes too heavily on their moral viewpoint. The acceptance of another’s rights to freedoms inherent to all Americans starts to diverge when the concept of gay marriage is discussed. The subject tends to create polar differences: those that feel the rights of the individual are of prime importance versus those that feel that allowing gays to marry will diminish the sanctity of traditional marriage between a man and a woman. The debate becomes one of determining which importance is greater, traditional religious-based morality or political-based freedoms? As the beliefs in both are very fundamental to most people, this argument rapidly becomes one in which there is no middle ground, either you are with us or against us.

Nowhere is this divide more evident than in the media context of the internet. The internet allows people to easily access information that directly reflects their own viewpoint. Also, anyone that wishes to do so is able to easily able to share with the internet their own thoughts. As we found when researching gay marriage, this tends to create a large amount of propaganda. People’s beliefs are so strong in relation to this issue, that often there is a lack of actual discourse. People become more concerned with discrediting their “enemy” than with defending their ideas with any sort of rational thought. The vast majority of information on gay marriage to be found on the internet is not concerned with creating a balanced understanding of the issue, but rather to persuade those undecided to one or the other sides of the debate. Any attempt to create a civil discourse is difficult if not impossible to find. Rather than being a forum for rational discussion, the internet widens the gap between the two primary trains of thought. Those of a particular mindset are more apt to only read that which agrees with what they already believe and be extremely susceptible to the propaganda that attempts to discredit the opposition. Media figures tend to disguise their opinions as factual information and those that view this material are already of a mindset that they accept this thinly veiled opinion as a reinforcement of their own beliefs.

Our group chose what we believed to be a subject that would provide us with a plethora of information. In that regard, we chose wisely. However, what we discovered is the way in which the internet changes the way that as a society we discuss the issues that are important. Rather than being the vessel that facilitates a rational discourse, the internet becomes the tool of the propagandist and creates a gap in communication that no one can easily transverse.

On Communication:

As a group, we strove to communicate with each other as much as possible. Through the use of e-mail, D2L, text messaging and real-life interaction we were able to create a group dynamic that helped in establishing goals and deadlines. As a group, we strove to create an online discussion via D2L that allowed us to exchange ideas in a way that facilitated a sense of teamwork. The few actual in-person meetings, while helpful, tended to repeat information that had already been discussed online. While working together in person was helpful, the rapport developed online allowed us to assign tasks, critique each others' work, and post assignments in a timely manner. Also, we were able to better gauge each group member’s strengths and weaknesses based on our commitment to abundant communication that allowed us to create a finished product that was enhanced by each member’s talents.

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