Untold Stories Project analyzes modern technology

GVL / Courtesy - untoldstories.life
Virgil Westdale

GVL / Courtesy – untoldstories.life Virgil Westdale

Rachel Huck

It’s difficult to ignore that the world today seems to revolve around technology. Two recent Grand Valley State University graduates have founded a project that focuses on the effect that this technology-based way of life is having on society.

“Technology is affecting us all, no matter how hard we try to avoid it,” said Veronica Kirin, founder of The Untold Stories project.

The project examines the effects of technology by interviewing members of the Silent Generation, which consists of individuals born between the mid-1920s and the early 1940s.

“I noted that the greatest change our elders has witnessed is in technology,” Kirin said. “With a new report coming out almost weekly about how technology is affecting us, I knew that this was the best way to find an answer.”

According to Kirin, many of the people involved in the project have been found via family and friends of the team running the project, and others have become involved through strategic partnerships with other nonprofit organizations that work with elders on a national scale.

“The best thing about this project is hearing a perspective on a subject that often goes unheard,” said Ashleigh Lowis, a member of the project team. “Many young people tend to roll their eyes at grandparents and great-grandparents when stories start with quips such as ‘back in my day,’ but really those are the stories we should be listening to. Our world has changed drastically. Understanding how and why is important.”

Kirin and Lowis started the project to focus on how technology has changed people, aggregating statistics based on interviews. They ultimately aim to publish a book and create a foundation.

“The biggest goal is to finish the national tour and publish findings as a book that may give other researches a foundation for exacting change,” Kirin said. “Or to give families, teachers and children a guidepost for using technology holistically.”

There’s a reason that the project focuses on an older generation as opposed to younger generations.

“They were born before most, if not all, technology had an effect on their lives,” Kirin said. “Some I’ve interviewed grew up without running water or electricity and can offer a true compare and contrast now to then, as well as the intimate detail of what it was to live through the changes.”

The Untold Stories Project spreads its message via social media, as well as its website, where the latest interviews are posted for viewing.

“If you have ever wondered what technology has done to us, rolled your eyes at people texting in a restaurant, realized your back hurts from being hunched over your computer, or wondered what it would be like if we had access to our grandparents’ lives, then this project is for you,” Kirin said.

The Untold Stories Project aims to expose people to the effect that they may not realize technology is having on them.

“I myself have learned to step back from my computer and phone and become more intentional in my interpersonal relations,” Kirin said.

The two GVSU grads are hopeful that the message behind this project will have a positive effect on a large audience.