David Wray, #UBC MA Defence: Message Me when You Land: Tourism and Hospitality Students’ Distance Relationships with Friends, Family, and Devices

The Final Oral Examination For the Degree of
Master of Arts
(Media & Technology Studies)
David R. Wray
Exam Date & Time: Thursday April 23, 2020
Exam Location: Zoom
Message Me when You Land: Tourism and Hospitality Students’ Distance Relationships with Friends, Family, and Devices
EXAMINING COMMITTEE 
Supervisory Committee:
Prof Stephen Petrina, Research Supervisor (Media & Technology Studies)
Prof E. Wayne Ross (Curriculum Studies and Social Studies)
External Examiner:
Prof Jillianne Code (Media & Technology Studies)
ABSTRACT
This qualitative study addressed the problem of maintaining relationships via creative and routine uses of Multimedia Devices (MMDs). Twelve participants were recruited from a private college in Vancouver, which specializes in tourism and hospitality education for international students. Interviews focused on their uses of MMDs in creating and maintaining relationships with family and friends. The study addressed three research questions: 1) In what ways do international students utilize MMDs to maintain relationships with family, friends, and the devices themselves? 1a) How do the students maintain relationships at home, school, and online, while fostering newer, more immediate relationships? 1b) How do the students maintain relationships with media and technology (M&T) devices and apps? For analysis and interpretation, the theoretical framework draws on Hinde’s (1976a, 1976b) research into relationality and on Goffman’s (1974) caution of the collusion of technology in changing relationships. Findings are organized around four themes: Shifting Time and Space Constraints, Necessity vs. Habit, Online Identity, and Influence and Marketing. Within each theme, one, two, or all three questions are explored. The participants post memes, photos, and videos to their social media but do not always keep up their relationships with family and friends directly, though they said most of their significant relationships had not faltered. Participants were hard pressed to say that their personal technology use was a bad thing, though they consistently expressed how it would get in the way of experiencing real life in the moment. The participants have their technologies on them and interact with them on a regular basis, but their views on MMDs extend from necessity to habit. This research has implications for the process of intercultural relationship building among students, as it takes the pervasiveness of M&T into account. Given current conditions of life, play, study, and work, implications are placed in context of Covid-19. How this sample of international students interacts and depicts themselves online suggests the strengthening of some relationships while keeping others at a comfortable distance, but still near, nonetheless. Educators of all levels should be aware of how students create, maintain, and destroy relationships via MMDs

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