• Lauren Hanzel

To glimpse other lives

Lauren, a rhetoric major, discusses how our communication is undeniably influenced by our environments and unique cultures.


As a rhetoric major, I’m always thinking about words, how they’re said, the medium they’re in, and the purpose behind every one. What I didn’t think much about until now is the reason underneath the word choices that we make.


While the nature versus nurture conversation dominates how people's characters develop, the effects of culture are undeniably influential. If we define culture as a group's set of practices or beliefs, this could mean a country's cultures down to the microscopic cultures that are in our individual families. These cultures overlap and create our unique perspectives on the world while influencing how we communicate.


All the choices that we make to communicate through words and the level of language that we use are all influenced by overlapping practices and beliefs. For example, if we're with a small group of friends, our communication can transform based on the group's dynamic. On the other hand, communication changes can be as large as adapting to a new place that we visit. In fact, a BBC article reveals how accents can change depending on evolving contexts and new environments.


On a larger scale, even the fundamental levels of our perspectives—such as the objects we view as animate or inanimate, deity or mortal—are influenced by our culture. Discovering the underlying purpose underneath these choices allows us to glimpse into others' lives. To learn about others gives us the invaluable opportunity to expand what we know about the world.


Aspects of ourselves that we were blind to before suddenly become clear as we realize how we change in response to places and people.