Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

Social media connects students in multiple ways

Posted on October 22, 2013 in Arts & Culture, Features
By caldrich

Addicted to social media? It’s okay, so is everybody else.

Whether it be an occasional tweet or a Facebook birthday greeting, everyone, from your grandmother to your 10 year-old neighbor, is popping up online. In the Myspace days, it all seemed so new and exciting. Now, social media is just another part of our daily lives.

For the brothers of Phi Mu Delta, an active fraternity here at USM, getting too creative with their Facebook just means more budgeting.

“You need to pay [Facebook] in order to reach more people,” said Phi Mu Delta member and USM senior linguistics major Christian Evans. “And there’s still the sheer fact that most people either ignore or ‘like’ and ignore both your page and your posts.”

But, overall, it has been a worthwhile endeavor for them. For the brothers of Phi Mu Delta, access to Facebook through postings, recruitment and marketing has also been a way to stay connected. After about two decades of being absent from any USM affiliation, the fraternity is back in its second year with 16 members.

“It’s fascinating to see how many people you reach––and being able to be a hub to which people can reach out, even if they’ve been out of the loop for a while,” said Evans. “For example, we have a lot of alumni brothers who like our Facebook page, and it allows them to have access to information about us and what we’re doing.”But Facebook isn’t the only means to satisfying some sort of deep social need. USM senior psychology major, Mary Moran, said that she’s had enough of being constantly connected.

“People are spending time with each other, and they are on their phones the whole time,” said Moran.

Moran, who is the senior captain and number one singles player for the USM Women’s Tennis Team, refrains from signing up for Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter and most social networking sites and apps most students buzz about. She simply doesn’t feel the need to and would rather spend time focusing on other interests, she said.

Interestingly enough, she admits that she’s still logging some Facebook hours––just not on an account of her own. As a transfer student from Bates College and a 2010 graduate of Portland High School, Moran likes to stay connected with her friends at other schools. She wants to see the pictures from events that they post on their pages.

She explained, one friend from school gave Moran her username and password, so she can look through their albums without using her own name.

Although Moran does have a Snapchat account she uses it strictly to send pictures to close friends. Moran said that she avoids popular networking sites as a way to save time and focus on real life things, like her position on the tennis team and her schoolwork.

“I’ve considered making a Twitter account,” said Moran, “but it just seems like a lot of work.”

And Twitter, it turns out, has made its way into the classroom context at USM, in an introductory international relations course. The class, taught by USM professor and alumni, Julia Edwards, requires students to operate a Twitter account as part of their end of the semester final project.

“I chose Twitter because it is a fast-paced tool that forces brevity,” said Edwards.  “I strongly suggest that students in all my courses follow news sources on twitter. It’s how I get my news, and I have found that in today’s fast-paced over-stimulated media and entertainment world, being able to quickly and succinctly see and digest events around the world is invaluable.”

The project entails that each group takes on the role of  a country fighting for power and authority within the global scene, and Edwards encourages students to use Twitter as a means for propaganda and public relations to give their country a specific image.

“Most governments in the world today have Twitter feeds––it’s a great way to engage in public diplomacy, and I want my students to get that experience of choosing their words carefully and harnessing the power of technology for a bigger purpose,” said Edwards.

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