Technology and Relationships

Conversation Guide

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We are in an age of wonder and amazement with technology. It can go anywhere with us and we can be reachable at any time. We use technology to order our groceries, navigate our cities, keep up with breaking news, family members living away and in some cases remain connected to our politicians and faith-based communities. So many of us are reachable and can respond immediately to beeping, buzzing and ringing of texts, emails and phone calls. We like what we feel when our phones ring or ping us with a new message and that makes us want more. Some experts have have suggested that technology is controlling us, that we have lost control of it…like an addiction. Is technology our friend, the life saving tool of the 21st Century or a manipulator of our minds and master of our time? Who is in charge?

Background Information:

There are many resources that explore how our technology is impacting us, especially younger people. The Center for Humane Technology is at the forefront of reimagining how technology can be used to support greater humanity. Common Sense Media has an advice for parents sectionScreenagers is a documentary about youth and technology being shown all around the country.  And there is even a National Day of Unplugging to encourage us all to take a 24 hour respite from technology, highlighting the value of disconnection in order to connect with ourselves, our loved ones and our communities in real time.

Let's Get Started!

Living Room Conversations offers a simple, sociable and structured way to practice communicating across differences while building understanding and relationships. Typically, 4-7 people meet in person or by video call for about 90 minutes to listen to and be heard by others on one of our nearly 100 topics. Rather than debating or convincing others, we take turns talking to share and learn. No preparation is required, though background links with balanced views are available on some topic pages online. Anyone can host using these italicized instructions. Hosts also participate. Some hosts may offer a Q & A after Closing.

Introductions:
Why We're Here (~10 min)

Each participant has 1 minute to introduce themselves.

Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.

Conversation Agreements:
How We'll Engage (~5 min)

These will set the tone of our conversation; participants may volunteer to take turns reading them aloud. (Click here for the full conversation agreements.)

  • Be curious and listen to understand.
  • Show respect and suspend judgment. 
  • Note any common ground as well as any differences. 
  • Be authentic and welcome that from others. 
  • Be purposeful and to the point. 
  • Own and guide the conversation. 

Question Rounds:
What We’ll Talk About

Optional: a participant can keep track of time and gently let people know when their time has elapsed.

Round 1:
Getting to Know Each Other (~10 min)

Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:

Answer one or more of the following:
  • What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
  • What would your best friend say about who you are and what inspires you?
  • What are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country?

Round 2:

What are your thoughts on Digital Dialogue? (~40 min)

One participant can volunteer to read the paragraph at the top of the web page.

Take ~2 minutes each to answer a question below without interruption or crosstalk. The group may choose to have everyone answer: A) whichever question speaks to them individually or B) the same question with an option to pass. Once everyone has answered, the group may take a few minutes for any clarifying or follow up questions/responses. Continue exploring with other topic or related questions as time allows.

  • Are there ways that technology has improved or hurt your in-person relationships and interactions?
  • Do you ever turn off your devices? Why or why not?
  • Do you want to change your own behavior around technology? How do you think you can do that?
  • What is the longest amount of time you’ve been unplugged (phone, online)? What happened?
  • Do you remember life before we had mobile phones/tablets or a time when you were unplugged for an extended period? What did you most enjoy?
  • How is our personal technology impacting our society?

Round 3:
Reflecting on the Conversation (~15 min)

Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:

  • In one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation?
  • What new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
  • Has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
  • Name one important thing that was accomplished here.
  • Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?

Closing (~5 min)

  • Give us feedback! Find our feedback form here.
  • Donate! Make more of these possible; give here.
  • Join or host more conversations! With a) this group by exchanging your emails; b) others in person and/or by video call online. Get more involved or learn how to host here.

Thank You!

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