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Help Me Help You Comprehend: Social Topics Edition

Maya Cooks | Posted on November 11, 2019

Did someone say “research project?”

Researching and furthering my knowledge of social issues, minority groups, and queer lifestyles within the U.S. is an enjoyable past time for me and, at times, it can be more than that. When I’m not in class learning about the philosophy of love and sex or why Beyonce should be praised for being the bad*ss, inter-sectional feminist that she is, you can find me reading online articles from Salty (an online platform, and newsletter that features stories from women, trans, and nonbinary folk with inter-sectional backgrounds), watching documentaries that demonstrate systematic injustices, or discovering pro-feminist music artists. This interest has allowed me to escape multiple times from the problematic ideology western society has placed on my identity as a Black woman. At this point, I can’t even call it an interest. It is a passion that I have devoted an abundant amount of time and energy to, trying to comprehend, trying to position myself within, and trying to educate others on. I do not plan to lecture classes about these topics with my degree, however. Instead, providing accurate and insightful information about these topics in an entertaining fashion is what led me to pursue a major in business.

I know my excitement for researching makes it sound like I read 10-page research papers for fun, but in reality, my short attention span wouldn’t allow me to make it past the third page. The majority of the sources I used to educate myself on these topics are from entertaining outlets such as Salty or Youtube. Like Miley’s bone dance in the show Hannah Montana, coming up with or accessing creative ways to educate yourself, can be the best way to comprehend new and/or difficult information.

When prompted as an entrepreneurial project to find innovative ways to disrupt consumers’ workflow, I instantly considered changing the ways consumers access and comprehend information regarding social issues, minority groups, and queer lifestyles within the U.S. I was eager to list numerous ways of which I could simplify the process and energy that went into researching these topics. However, as I have learned from my Entrepreneurship 310 class, creating a solution before understanding your consumer’s workflow and their attitudes towards this process is the equivalent of walking into a room blindfolded. By entering your product into a market without proper research, you are less likely to know what to expect with the market’s response to your product and are more likely at risk of wasting resources on a solution that might generate little to no sales.

To complete this assignment my team members and I needed 5-10 individuals to interview on their process of accessing and comprehending information about minorities and intersectionality. After two weeks of conducting these personal interviews with family, friends, and various UIC students, the following is our analysis of the collected data.

Interviewees’ Preferred Sources to Access Such Information Were Social Media Platforms, Peers, Online News Articles, Documentaries/Movies/Tv-Shows, Research Papers, and College Course Classes

There is no doubt that each one of these sources presents advantages and disadvantages for consumers in regards to the accuracy and comprehension of the information provided. During the interviews, we inquired to know more about the benefits and downfalls of the previously listed sources.

Those who preferred to use social media platforms, peers (word of mouth) and online news articles praised the timeliness and easy accessibility of these sources. My team and I addressed the potential downfalls of using these sources as being biased, inaccurate of factual information, and more likely to miss the bigger picture/cause of the phenomenon.

Others who preferred to use documentaries, movies, and tv-shows appreciate the comprehensibility of stories/storylines and the visual components that provide a sense of entertainment to learning about these concepts. One interviewee states that learning about certain topics that involve one’s identity is better comprehended through tv shows and movies because they are able to relate and empathize with the characters. This method allows the audience to remember observational information about characters and their society rather than hard facts from a textbook. The potential downfalls that were addressed with these sources were biases and inaccuracy of information and poor or stereotypical depictions of minority groups and individuals with queer lifestyles.

Lastly, individuals who preferred using research papers and college course classes to acquire and comprehend information about social issues, minority groups, and queer lifestyles emphasized the thoroughness of information provided as well as the guidance given to help the consumer understand the material. The potential downfalls addressed in reference to this source were time-consuming, laborious, and intensive to keep up with.

Though research paper and college course classes may seem like the best source to gain and understand information about the topics mentioned above, they are also a source of stress for the consumers. Many interviewees have expressed having anxiety and/or pressure to perform when partaking in college course classes.

The Majority of Interviewees Exclaimed Having a Surface Level Knowledge of Social Issues, Minority Groups, and Queer Lifestyles That Do Not Pertain to Their Identity

It is understandable that most people would not go out of their way to acquire a wealth of knowledge about information that does not affect them personally. The interviewees have indicated that there is a difficulty with processing data about social issues and minority groups if they do not share the same struggle (socially, emotionally, physically, etc) as the consumer. This in return creates a disconnect between consumers and the information provided.

The Majority Of Interviewees Described Themselves as Visual Learners

This method of learning and taking in information has been mentioned numerous times throughout our interviewing period. Visually seeing a concept or condition being portrayed and/or simplified helps consumers comprehend their topic of interest.

To wrap up our interviews we’ve asked each participant if they were interested in knowing more about social issues, minority groups, and queer lifestyles. As a collective, our participants were all interested in furthering their knowledge about social topics that pertain to their own identities as well as ones that are not as connected. The conversation doesn’t end here though. My team and I may have collected the necessary data we needed for our assignment, but there is still room to speak on this issue. What are your thoughts on the process of collecting and comprehending knowledge about social issues, minority groups, and queer lifestyles? How can accurate information be given in an entertaining manner? How can a source assess one’s understanding of these concepts while minimizing the amount of anxiety and pressure for them?

Your insight can provide entrepreneurs, like me, the knowledge we need to efficiently make tasks, such as researching a simple and enjoyable process.

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