Has social media made us more or less social? Discuss amongst yourselves.


On one of Saturday Night Live’s classic sketches (SNL – for you millennials), Linda Richmond, played by Mike Meyers, hosts “Coffee Talk” (Pronounced Cawfee Tawk). In the show, Linda and friends discuss their “dogs, daughters” and life in general. “No big whoop.” The talk often gets emotionally charged to the point of where Linda has to take a “time-out” because she is “verklempt.” Translation: emotionally spent.

It’s hard to imagine an exchange in an internet chat room, or discussion board reaching that emotional state. Or is it? Political or personal chats and blogs can get highly charged, even crossing lines of civility, judging from the escalating language I see on Facebook, twitter and other social media sites.

It begs the question: Has the internet and social media made us more or less social? More or less “human?” These were questions raised in our most recent class, and it takes some examination to reach a conclusion.

Grab a “cuppa cawffee” and let’s discuss.

More social:

What could be more social than having access to a network of friends 24/7 where you can ask questions, share your thoughts and perspectives on just about anything on your mind? You can decide to chat with a confidante, a group of close friends or hold an open discussion with hundreds and thousands on Facebook. Society is at your fingertips. Right?

Less social:

Well, some would argue that true connection with friends only happens in person, on a human level, where you can see, touch, understand and judge the feelings being expressed. How often have emails or IM’s been misinterpreted, causing you to react entirely differently than you might have in person? And have you ever had dinner with someone who’s constantly texting and checking emails on their cell phone? What could be more annoying or disrespectful? Suddenly that person in cyberspace is more important than the one sharing your real space. Also, the echo chamber effect on media sharing sites often feeds you the kind of information that agrees with your viewpoints, and seldom challenges you.

More social:

Taking classes on the internet allows a student to meet and exchange ideas with classmates all over the country. Having access to the internet and social media sharing sites like Facebook and Twitter allows us to see and ponder other viewpoints. But…

Less social:

…Taking classes on the internet loses the personal experience of sharing a classroom with others and devalues our university campuses which are greenhouses for education and growth.

More or Less Social?

It can be argued either way. And people of different ages may have completely different points of view. The fact is, the internet and social media have changed the definition of social forever, and will continue to challenge and change traditional values, replacing them with new beliefs.

When I posed the question, “Does social media make us more or less social” to a friend…he pondered the question and answered…”Yes!”




BREAKING NEWS, this exclusive report is completely fabricated…

Can you choose the real news account from the three choices below?

1)“BREAKING: ‘Tens of thousands’ of fraudulent Clinton votes found in Ohio warehouse.” The Christian Times

2) These Reports allege Trump has deep ties with Russia.” Buzzfeed.com

3)  Ten times Trump spread fake news” The New York Times

These three headlines represent a spectrum of news stories ranging from “admittedly false” and published by a guy  on a website he purchased from ExpiredDomains.net for $5  (The Christian Times),  to an “unverified report” by a fast growing but irreverent website (Buzzfeed.com) known for such newsworthy articles as…”50 puppies to help you get through work today,” to “fact searched” by a seemingly trusted news institution founded in 1851  (The New York Times).

The fake news epidemic is sure to shake the faith of readers in our journalistic institutions and believability of the free press. It’s enough to make the average reader cynical and distrusting of any news source.  So how does an “informed” reader differentiate between the credible and the incredible?  The fact-checked and the fabricated? The authentic versus click bait?

Simple. Develop media literacy. How? In Media and Culture: Mass Communications for the Digital Age we are given a critical process to help us decide what is real, and what is not.  First you must realize that culture is complex. Then you must put your personal biases, preferences and prejudices aside. Next, follow the steps below:

  1. Description:  Take notes on the content, the descriptions, the interviews, the conflicts, the topics, the themes. Anything sound fishy here?  Red flag!
  2. Analysis:  Look for any key patterns that may exists, the number of quotes, sources given or verified reasons to believe the article may be true…or not.
  3. Interpretation: The most important stage where you must ask the question, “So what?”  And “What does this mean?”
  4. Evaluation: You be the judge, and decide if this sounds like a credible hypothesis, or argument. But put your personal tastes, biases and prejudices aside…if you can.
  5. Engagement: Take action on what you’ve seen or heard and make your voice known.  Take part in discussions on websites, write a letter to the editor, challenge the status quo, don’t be passive or silent.

Being mediate literate means having a critical perspective to judge whether a news article should be trusted or trashed.

Oh, by the way, if you answered 3) to the first question of this blog, you might just be correct!