Meet my friend Charline. We met when I moved into a shared house in London in 2013. She had been living there for a few months before I moved in and already had well established friendships with the other housemates. I think our friendship really began when I would go and sit on the end of her bed in the morning whilst eating my breakfast and making her some tea. Charline is a pretty incredible person. Originally from Brazil, Charline has spent years between Australia, London and her home city Porto Alegre learning English and working in hospitality. She is now living in Brisbane with her boyfriend and their family while she waits for a partnership visa.
It’s nearly been two years since Charline has been back to Brazil, and with her family being such an important part of her life, she engages in some interesteing home balancing acts. She juggles Facebook, Whatsapp, Skype and Facetime, to keep in touch with her family despite there being a 13hour time difference. She’ll often find herself chatting to them very early in the morning (6am) in Australia or late at night (when it’s morning in Brazil). Unlike me, she’s unable to call her parents at 5pm when she finishes work, because they’ll be sound asleep. And then, she needs to combat poor internet connection, which lets face it, is everyone’s nightmare. Whether she’s skyping her brother in Dublin, Facebooking her father in Brazil or calling me in Wollongong, it’s evident that Charline is able to occupy several continents at the same time.
So, as Charline balances her home life in Brazil, whilst living in a new home in Brisbane, the relationship between communication and home begin to evolve. I often come across the saying ‘home is not a place, it’s a feeling.’ This coincides with Meyroitz’s theory of placelessness where ‘people aren’t defined by physical boundaries, but rather networks of information and knowledge faciliated by new media technologies’ (Laughey, pp. 85, 2007). Whilst it’s easy to see how Charline is not restricted by physical boundaries anymore, she does continue to create a new sense of place. It is apparent that in today’s society, modern technology actually allows us to occupy multiple places at the same time and create new senses of place (Moores, 2012), however we cannot undermine the significance of a physical place to people, especially home.
Despite the forces of globalization and the break down of physical barriers through media technologies like skype, one cannot be placeless, because place plays an integral role in communication. Internet access, time differences and language all influence the way in which we communicate, especially the way in which Charline keeps in touch with her family.
The term placelessness, implies ‘without a place,’ where in fact Charline has created many places and ways of life around the world. To Charline, home is a place, Brazil. Her family, culture and language all contribute to her sense of home being in Brazil. Whilst she is still able to create a sense of place, it will never replace home. Charline continues to ‘create a sense of place despite the disruptive and chaotic experience of mobility’ (Dassopoulos, 2013) and the challenge will lie in balancing multiple places, however no sense of place will replace a sense of home. And to Charline, home will always be Brazil.
*Thankyou to Charline for chatting to me about your travels, your frustrations at wifi and reception signals and your beautiful home, Brazil.
Laughey, D 2007, Key Themes In Media Theory, Maidenhead, Open University Press, pp. 85, viewed 26 October 2015
Dassopolous, A 2013, ‘Book Review of Media, Place and Mobility by Shaun Moores’, International Journal of Communication, Universtiy of Nevada, Vol. 7, viewed 26 October 2015, http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/viewFile/2365/952
Moores, S 2012, Media, Place And Mobility, Basingstoke, Hampshire, Palgrave Macmillan, viewed 26 October 2015, https://books.google.com.au/books?id=W7QcBQAAQBAJ&lpg=PR4&ots=g0SRb6nCRc&dq=Shaun%20Moores%2C%20Media%2C%20Place%20%26%20Mobility%2C%20New%20York%2C%20NY%3A%20Palgrave%20Macmillan%2C%202012%2C&pg=PA9#v=onepage&q=placeness%20&f=false