Community of memory…

The reading this week had me reflecting on a few things of the application of a community of memory.  The first thing I thought of while reading Communication ethics literacy: Dialogue and difference by Arnett, Harden-Fritz and Bell (2008) was the culture in the different jobs that I have held.  When I was younger I was concerned whether I would do a good job, I was a single parent with two kids and I needed to support my family.  I held my head low and listened to everything that was presented around and to me.  Working in a private accounting firm was different than working in retail.  The customer base was still the most important element in both businesses, however, I never worked directly with customers in the accounting firm as I did in retail.  According to Arnett, et al., (2008), “organizations offer places to participate, belong, play, and work; they situate our lives, giving meaning beyond our individual selves,” (p. 145).  Reading this made me think of the two different jobs that I had and why I was always thinking I needed a fun job.  In the accounting firm, I worked with individuals that were very serious.  I loved the job, as it was always professional yet an individual work environment.  It was stable hours with stable work that dealt with numbers and finding any discrepancies.  It was mind numbing work and the good from this job was that it provided for my family, hours and pay were great as well as giving me a sense of accomplishment within an organization of educated professionals.  However, I was missing something.

Thinking about my fun job, I worked in a small gift shop in a local hotel.  I would often go straight from one job to the other or worked every other weekend.  I enjoyed that job as I could talk to the travelers, I was living vicariously through them.  I realized the more I conversed the more they purchased.  The owners rewarded me with days off paid so I had more time for my kids.  The culture that was portrayed at my fun job was of family and they helped in giving me a sense of belonging to their family.  The travelers shared not only their stories of travel or why they were in town, but also elements of their personal lives, which included buying for their children.

Both jobs reflected a culture of memories, things we did were repetitious from previous years, those activities reflected what we currently did and what we proposed to future clients or customers.  We started collaborating with the local college for interns that would be paid.  Rather than interns that historically only came for the experience.  We could see the depth of knowledge that each student brought into the companies, as the elder individuals started reforming the way business was conducted, through technology.

One element that one will always see in an organization is the grapevine gossip.  I had not given much thought to it before, I always have kept to myself, however, with rhetorical interruptions, I viewed the different groups in both jobs.  Rhetorical interruption is defined according to Arnett et al., (2008) “a communication event that disrupts our sense of the routine,” (p. 164).  When students were brought into both companies they had a harder time fitting into the elder’s routine and vice versa.  I heard so many different complaints of change and the stubbornness of the young and old.  What I did not realize at the time, was my silence was just as damaging.  Ethical communication is the implicit and explicit of the ongoing connection of dialogue and ethics,” (Arnett et al., p. 55) between individuals.

When I think back to this time I realize that even though I stayed silent, I was not practicing ethical communication.  I should have been truthful and learned how to communicate between the two different cultures of old and new, to tie them together, as I listened to both sides.  As I have gotten older I have realized playing safe is not always the best way to be ethical, however, learning how to communicate and listen to what one is saying is a better way to understand how the community of memory works within organizations that have different cultures.  My fun job was no longer fun due to the distention between everyone and the changes with technology into the business system.


Arnett, R.C., Harden-Fritz, J. M. & Bell, L. M. (2008). Communication ethics literacy: Dialogue and difference. Los Angeles: Sage

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