The Necessity of Social Media (And Other Takeaways)

Given that I came out swinging with my first blog post of the semester titled ‘My Contempt for Social Media’, I thought it would only be fair to give credit where credit is due. Although I still cannot stand how much time we spend on our devices, transported to a digital universe of mindless scrolling, completely removed from our physical environment (connected, but alone), this semester has showed me the true power of our platform world.

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My first takeaway is that social media allows brands to create their own unique personality in order to better connect with their customers. We’ve seen some fantastic examples, from big corporations like Wendy’s, to previously unheard of minor league teams like the Yard Goats. These created personalities allow for easy customer growth by bringing in those who find brands’ comments witty or think along similar lines.

As the semester unfolded, we also witnessed how social media can completely change the lives of both individuals and an entire nation. On the small scale, we watched how Justine Sacco’s life was destroyed by one mindless tweet before hopping on an international flight. On a larger scale, we spoke about how Trump (and the Russians) used social media to their advantage in the 2016 election. We’ve since seen Trump both escalate a potential catastrophic conflict and question the legitimacy of non-conservative news through Twitter.

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I’m not saying that our future presidents will all be gossipy middle schoolers at recess. But what I do think is that politicians and governments have realized that social media allows them to reach (and affect) the masses. Thus, we will only see it play a bigger and bigger role going forward.

Okay, so both of these don’t sound too great for us little guys who companies view as another dollar on the balance sheet and politicians as another vote on the ballot. So why do I think it’s necessary for us?

The answer to this lies in simply looking at how this class is conducted. Back in the day, the professor was some oracle of knowledge. The professor wrote the text book, and if you couldn’t find it in the library or had any questions, you had to consult that card catalog thing or whatever. Today, a lot of our classes are still ones where you show up and the professor puts up the same slide deck he/she’s been showing for the last 10 years (occasionally editing the date on the title slide if they remember to). But this class truly demonstrates what the future of collegiate education will look like. The internet and social media has made unprecedented knowledge available to all who can access it. A proper education that prepares you for the real world requires up to the minute knowledge, and this is exactly what this class has provided. Sure, we have a syllabus, but that’s there simply to direct our conversations on a given topic.

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I can confidently say that I’ve learned more with this class structure than I have in other courses. And this goes beyond keeping up to date on Twitter. A big part of it is writing blog posts on subjects you actually care about. The freedom to write about anything tech related allows for enjoyable learning. The creativity required to do a post is better than memorizing buzz words and trends and regurgitating them on an exam. I think this class also shows a major shift coming: online classes. We only see a bit of this through our Twitter use, but we are already seeing a rise in online education. It allows for individualized learning and is much cheaper (due to the lack of facilities needed).

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In terms of technology, my biggest take away is the threat of AI. The economic impacts of autonomous vehicles alone will be a handful for our country. While it will be easy to retrain drivers as mechanics to serve these nonstop vehicles, it is likely that millions will still be out of jobs. As AI gets better, significant decisions will need to be made as to what to do with the unemployed (perhaps a universal income will be implemented).

A second big takeaway is the impact that block chain will have on our society when it’s implemented. It’ll be interesting to see how banks respond to it. I think that they will begin to develop/implement block chain; perhaps even their own cryptocurrencies.

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As I walk away form this course, above is my final question. A common theme of our discussions has been the fact that we’ve been trading privacy for convenience. After 9/11, we also saw our government take our privacy in exchange for security with the signing of the Patriot Act. I personally do not think it’s possible to have all three. With the rise of tech giants and more and more of our data being put online, I think we’ll see increased convenience and security, coupled with a loss of privacy. I don’t want to say 1984 is a given, but it seems to be the future we’re heading towards.

7 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing! I’m glad you touched on the class structure, because I enjoyed the blogs, too — it really allowed each person to contribute to the class in their own way. I don’t necessarily see the future of education going towards exclusively online courses, but technology will definitely continue to impact education (mainly it’s figuring out how to effectively manage tech as a learning value add that’s the most challenging part). In terms of your concluding question, I’ve been following how other places like the UK attempt to address these issues: http://www.wnyc.org/story/cambridge-analytica-data-protection/

  2. I think you make a really good point about the structure of this course. I agree that it has prepared me better than any of my classes where I memorize the outdated slides, copy it back down on my exam, walk out and forget it forever. I think it’s awesome that so much of the content in this course will almost certainly be irrelevant in a couple semesters, but that the skills it’s helped develop will stick. Your conclusion about the compromise of privacy for convenience and security is exactly what crossed my mind when writing my concluding post. It seems like the ideal should be a balance of the three because an extreme lack of any of these three does not sound ideal. But regardless, privacy appears to be the one we’re giving up most disproportionately.

  3. Great Post! You made a lot of interesting points. I totally agree with you about how this course really allowed me to understand the true power of social media and how much influence it has. Social media is used by almost every person, thus it has a huge reach. Also, I think it was interesting how you mentioned that you are mind blown with how much we are on our phone’s and on various social media platforms constantly. I totally agree with that. I get so annoyed with myself with how much I am on social media, yet I still do it.

  4. I really enjoyed your final post! I definitely agree with your point about the future of education. The reason why we all learned so much this semester is because this class trained us to be alert and aware of current events and news. The structure of this class allowed us to stay connected with each other and with the latest news 24/7. I’m glad we got to learn about important relevant technologies such as AI and how they will impact our future as we know it. Automation and increasingly reliance on AI will cut out jobs such as cashiers and sales associates in addition to drivers. I think unemployment will be a huge problem in our future, and I just hope that our government is prepared to handle it. I also agree with your point about privacy. I think most people are aware that they are risking their privacy by posting content onto social media platforms but forget about potential implications. I think the greatest challenge for us is to figure out ways to make technology beneficial rather than detrimental.

  5. Great post! I think everyone in our class agrees that Professor Kane’s style of teaching has taught us more than the traditional way. We all learned interesting and relevant topics in tech through the readings and then got the ability to further explore the topics that interested us in blogs, presentation, and tweets. I think it is a far superior model than having lectures, tedious assignments, and memorizing the material before the exam. The information we learned in this class is also very relevant and important to understand in our digital age. I also found the privacy vs connivence debate very interesting and with how much faster technology develops than government regulations, I do not see our privacy winning in the long run. I am thinking instead of Big Brother, its Big Data who is watching us.

  6. Nice post. I certainly wouldn’t go back to the “old” way of teaching, now that I’ve discovered this one. I feel the same way.

  7. Great final post! I definitely agree that as much as I hate how much time we spend on our devices this class has also shown me how much social media and technology has changed other aspects of society besides just how we socialize. I really liked how you also focused on the unique class structure as a takeaway. I definitely was reflecting on this when my friends were shocked (and jealous) I didn’t have a final to cram for. Many of them were curious how a professor gets you to do the readings and show up to class if there is no big test at the end. I really think that this was because we, the class, had the ability to drive the conversation. The readings and Ted Talks were interesting and we all picked up on different things that related to our own experiences. We also were given so much more freedom to blog, present, and tweet about what we were interested in and then were given a place to teach the rest of the class. I’m really glad you brought attention to how effective this class structure was for learning because I definitely agree!

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