Social Media Symposium: Students, faculty discuss effects and ramifications

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Senior Brittany Parker (left), Associate Professor of Mass Communication Maria Lundberg (middle) and senior Staci Poston (right) highlight ways to leverage social media in journalism. They took part in the discussion panel during the Oct. 5 Social Media Symposium.

Melissa Rollins, Staff Writer

Social media like Facebook and Twitter is part of many people’s everyday lives. Francis Marion University hosted a Social Media Symposium on Oct. 5 and 6 to explore how such sites specifically shape students’ lives.

The two-day event included two showings of the movie “The Social Network” and three panel discussions on different aspects of the topic.

The first night, between showings of the movie, there was a panel discussion between students and faculty.

Associate Professor of Mass Communication Maria Lundberg was one of three professors who participated in that panel.

“To me the whole social media phenomenon is fascinating, especially as a journalist,” Lundberg said. “It has just turned the way we do our jobs upside down. Things like Facebook, and even more so Twitter, have really become a necessity.”

Lundberg recently created a class at FMU to explore social media and how it can be used personally and professionally.

The other professors on the panel were Associate Professor of English Dr. Matt-hew Nelson and Associate Professor of History Dr. Christopher Kennedy.

The students participating were senior Staci Poston, an English major and the managing editor of The Patriot, and Cierra Buckman, a junior double-majoring in English and biology. The third student participant was Brittany Parker, a senior double-majoring in English and mass communication and editor-in-chief of The Patriot.

The initial question was posed by the moderator, Assistant Professor of English Dr. Shawn Smolen-Morton, but most others came from the audience. One person asked if social networking should be used by older people. Nelson addressed the “creepy tree-house effect” that can sometimes occur.

“If you’re 11 years old and an 11-year-old invites you over to his tree house, that’s fun,” Nelson said. “If you’re 11 years old and a 30-year-old invites you over to his tree house, that’s a little creepy.”

Lundberg addressed the problems that can arise from things that are posted online.

“Recently I spoke with a news director who was considering an applicant for a reporting position,” Lundberg said. “They were very close to offering him a job until they checked his Facebook page and saw some things that concerned them. As a result, that young man did not get that job offer.”

Many audience members and panelists came to the same conclusion: there are positive and negative aspects to social media.

Parker made a point that was echoed in many other comments.

“It’s important for people to realize the importance of using good old common sense,” Parker said. “You never really know just who is looking at your Facebook profile.”