Angeline Gisonni

Research Project

Intimacy amongst the youth through digital communication technologies


“The medium is the message.” Marshall McLuhan’s coined phrase did not mean much to me in my first year at Toronto Metropolitan University. To be completely candid, I wasn’t even entirely sure what my communications degree meant regarding the world, myself, and especially others. As a fourth-year Professional Communications student on the brink of graduation, I have spent my undergraduate degree thinking critically about communication and media. I find the intersection of human connection and digital connection the most intriguing. My capstone project explores the importance of questioning how we are communicating with others, and the influence this has on an increasingly self-isolating world.

Research Summary

Digital communication has altered the nature of relationships, especially in how we forge and perceive romantic connections. This study investigates the effect this has on intimacy amongst the youth, where Elif Batuman’s novel, “The Idiot”, acts as a forewarning of isolation as mediated by digital communication technologies. By examining the interplay between digital communications, embodied by the pioneering use of email, this research highlights the modern romantic experiences of the youth. It articulates how the medium of email in the novel delineates emotional risk and distance, contributing to both connection and disconnection.

Through text analysis of social media rhetoric and excerpts from the novel, this research aims to understand the paradoxes presented by digital interactions—how they can simultaneously enable a carefully curated self-presentation and precipitate emotional detachment. It delves into the emotional sentiments of anticipation, misunderstanding, intimacy, and isolation. These emotional sentiments overlap in both the social media rhetoric and in the novel’s protagonists, Selin and Ivan, whose relationship unfolds through email.

Echoing the sentiments of Marshall McLuhan, the medium of email serves not just as a conduit for expression but also as a formative force in the measure of human connection. The novel “The Idiot,” dissects the early days of internet communication, and is a harbinger of the deeper emotional disconnect that may arise from the continued evolution of such technologies.

Ultimately, this research articulates that modern romance is increasingly interwoven with digital threads, for better or worse. It presents Batuman’s work as a contemplative narrative that mirrors the subtle yet significant shifts in the emotional dynamics of today’s youth, as supported by social media rhetoric.

Research Poster

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