MSVU Social Media Course Blog

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Online relationships – (at least) two sides to the story

Elizabeth Barrette’s Meetspace made me consider something I hadn’t up until now: the role gender plays in an online setting. Because gender is intrinsically linked with identity, I wondered whether or not social media allows people to more truly be themselves, in terms of expression, than when interacting on a face-to-face basis.

This concept got me thinking. Depending on the medium, when interacting online, people are able to in a way “hide” behind their computers. They are able to say or do whatever they want with less personal accountability, thus fewer social consequences. In some ways, this could be a good thing – I think all people need an outlet it some form or another, and if someone was not comfortable expressing an aspect of their identity, such as gender orientation, on a face-to-face basis, then perhaps online media could provide them with a forum to talk about how they really feel without being judged.

There are (at least) two sides to every story, so I considered the negative aspects of being able to, in a way, “hide” and still interact online. Take online predators, for example, chatting with children and teens in chat rooms or other social media outlets and posing as someone they’re not. Also, the anonymity that online provides can be dangerous in that it allows participants to disseminate messages about and build followings for negative causes – hate sites, for example. 

To bring all of this back to the idea of gender – consider the phenomenon of online dating sites. Is it possible to build a legitimate relationship with a person in the absence of face-to-face contact, when the person could be lying about who they are? Or does online dating work for people who feel they’re more able to be themselves without being judged, and therefore find a compatible partner without the limitations that face-to-face contact can impose?

Any thoughts?


May 22, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | 2 Comments

Social Media and Social Divide

I was a little stumped by this week’s contribution on, the assigned blog I’ve been monitoring for class. It’s a little elusive as the author Mark Warschauer doesn’t really offer his thoughts on Campbell’s Law or any new developments in relation to digital learning. However, the post is thought provoking and worth exploring a little further!  In fact, it’s so short I will share it within my post so you too can digest and provide your insights:


“The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decisionmaking, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.”
Campbell’s Law, put forth in 1976 by Donald Campbell, prominent American social scientist and president of the American Psychological Association”


For those of you unfamiliar with the term Social indicator, it’s basically a term used to describe various “measures of social conditions and change” within society. Examples of such social indicators used within Canada are social class or status and statistics on standards of living, education, welfare, and health- generally social issues that are recorded and measured over time to evaluate and analyze any societal changes. My initial reaction to Campbell’s Law is to agree with the notion because when you quantify social indicators such as social status you are pitting people against one another. Instead of providing data and measurement for positive changes in society like increased public funding to social services, the indicators put people on a scale and divide, thus distorting and corrupting the process as sited by founder Donald Campbell.


On the other hand, when I view this in relation to social media sites and online personalities Campbell’s Law sort of loses its persuasive strength. For example, with personal disclosure up to the individual blogger things like annual income and level of post secondary education are unknown unless the individual chooses to say so. Therefore, everyone is given the same social power. It is up to them to earn this power or enhance it based upon their insightful and relevant contributions to the online world. What’s more, as the mind(s) of the machine, implied in Elizabeth Barrette’s poem Meetspace, we have the opportunity to access this power and craft the reality we desire. Perhaps, one without societal divide, gender and sex biases or one focused on the physical body or first impressions. 


Hmmmm…what do you guys think?



May 22, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | , , , | Leave a comment

Social Media Creating the “Dumb and Dangerous”?

I found  the reading ” The Other Side of Democracy in the Digital Age” to be very interesting and eye opening.  I’m sure everyone felt the same shock and awe after watching the video posted on the reading as well, it’s hard to believe that in the year 2009 there are still people out there who think, speak and act in the way some of those people were.

It’s very interesting what the author brought to our attention: Social Media can actually serve as a “pre-fueling” tool for supporters during elections.  That’s a scary thought. If supporters are being fueled with anger and hate before a rally even gets to their town, what will they be like the day of the rally? More than a “dumb mob” but a “dangerous and dumb mob”… the combination of dangerous and dumb do not mix very well.

This got me thinking, does the “dumb and dangerous mob” which is almost entirely being fueled by social media stop at just presidential rallys? No. In some way or another, this “pre-fueling” via social media has been going on for many years.  Think of the Holocaust, during that time there were radio stations all over which were broadcasting  for people to enlist in the army and were convincing the people that  taking part in the war was a positive choice.  News of Hitler’s speeches was broadcasted on the radio stations, and the crowds that formed to listen to him could certainly be classified as “dumb and dangerous”.

Think of the news we hear on the radio today, or videos we see on Youtube. I’m sure there are plenty of riots, petitions, marches, protests, mobs etc. being started up just from people hearing and seeing news on a daily basis which they don’t agree with and have a strong urge to do something about.

Can anyone think of a mob/riot/protest that has been fueled by social media?

The power of social media can be a great thing, but also has the potential to create something very “dumb and dangerous” .

Bye for now!


May 22, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | Leave a comment

back to the symbols…

Like Stéphanie, I too felt compelled to think about identities after our last class discussion and Barrette’s poem. What began as innocent pondering lead me all the way to…Symbolic Interactionism and the idea of the ‘self.’

As I’m sure you’re all so thrilled to reminisce… Meade argues that the “self consists of two parts, the I and the me. The I is the impulsive tendency of the individual and the me is the incorporated other, with an organized set of attitudes and definitions, understandings and expectations that are common to the group to which the individual belongs.”

The theory basically points out that the me is different at work than at school or at home, because we have different demands, expectations and comforts depending on where we are. What supposedly grounds all of our mes is the I.

Is social media just allowing people to create another me, another place with different rules, expectations and comfort zones OR is the web allowing people to create a new I altogether?

Over and out.


May 22, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | | 1 Comment

I must sound like a broken record

My first contribution to this blog talked a little bit about PR spam and entry level PR flacks ruining their reputation because of poor communication between Baby Flack and Mama Flack. Interestingly enough Shel Holtz ABC, a social media guru and all around PR superstar felt the same way for some time. What was his answer to this little issue?

The Employee Communications Manifesto Wiki. 

This wiki was created to help the entry level PR player gain some important knowledge of his/her field and not tarnish their reputation by ignorance. This document is also important for improving internal communications, as Shel puts it,

“…companies recognizing how inextricably linked internal and external communications have become to leaders like the CEO of Commonwealth Bank, who sees employees as a “secret weapon” with whom he can communicate, then turn loose to spread the message, it’s clear that internal communications is gaining a stronger foothold in a lot of companies.”

Having access and knowledge of documents like this will put us ahead of the game by increasing our knowledge which in turn, improves our skills we have developed here.  Because of the extremely turbulent times we are currently living in, we only have our skills to fall back on and they better be in fine form because if we don’t know what environment we are stepping into, we are in a lot of trouble.

Think about this. “Once the recession passes, I expect internal communications departments to be staffing up, often with new-hires who have no background in the discipline to which they’ve been assigned. I also expect a lot of out-of-work journalists to find a home in employee communications.” — Shel Holtz

I want everyone in this class and program to become successful PR people because the more Mount grads in the PR community the better… for all of us.  We are going to be competing against savagely hungry grads and talented people from different industries when we get up on out of her. Use these sites, wiki’s to improve your knowledge and learn new skills and we can become leaders. Don’t wind up on the PR blacklist. 

Here is a network that might help us show how talented we are all and connect with others that are just as kick ass –>  then Add me as a friend.


May 22, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | , | Leave a comment

How Many Identities Do YOU Have?

This week in class one of the readings discussed, Meetspace by Elizabeth Barrett got me thinking. How many identities do I have? Without even thinking I would say at least three.
In our society, we already have what we would consider our “offline” identity for which most of us can not be defined in a black and white world. Personally, I have two distinct identities, my English life and my French life. Now, on top of juggling those two lives I have to add to that my “online” identity. This is getting complicated, not only do we need to juggle our offline lives now we must add our virtual lives to that. This makes you wonder how many of us are different when online then offline. How is this affecting our social lives? Personally, I feel it adds to the mix but is it making our society less interactive? Are we helping to create a socially awkward society? These are all questions that are still being questioned. As for now, we must simply learn how to live with our different (sometimes very complex) identities.

So think about it, how many identities do you have?


May 22, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | 2 Comments