Social Media Use Gone Too Far

“I use Twitter constantly, all day, from the moment I wake up to the last minutes before I go to sleep,” writes author and tech journalist Patrick Garratt.

He continues:

“It’s not unusual for me to check Twitter on my phone before I turn on the light in the morning, and I usually do a few last refreshes after my wife plunges our bedroom into darkness at night. I have a Twitter app open on at least three devices in the house at any one time: on my PC in my office, on a laptop in the kitchen, on my smartphone or on my Vita. I use Twitter during meals, before I start my car’s engine, when we go for family walks and when I travel on trains. I don’t read when I sit down to ‘relax’: I tweet.”

Garratt, who manages a video game news site, relies heavily on the social networking site for his business, in addition to using the site for recreation. Recurrent use of the site for his company makes Garratt’s reliance on the site throughout the day even stronger; he regularly attracts readers via the social media platform.

Garratt explains that his incessant use of Twitter has a negative impact on various aspects of his life. His concentration is impaired, his writing and editing abilities are weakened, and his relationship with his wife and children are shortchanged, all because of his all-consuming obsession with a social networking site. He explains that he no longer receives enjoyment from using it but is simply dependent upon it in the same way that a drug abuser becomes dependent on mind-altering substances. What’s worse is that, unlike drugs, which are not necessary for one’s success or overall well-being, Twitter is necessary for Garratt, as the success of his job largely depends upon its use.

According to pew, around 68% of U.S. adults use Facebook and about 74% of those users visit the site on a daily basis. Nearly half of all U.S. adults (about 45%) receive their news from Facebook. The Millennial generation (particularly those between the ages of 18 and 24) is especially prone to heavy social media use. Some 74% of those within this age range use Snapchat and approximately 71% of those users visit the social media platform multiple times per day. Likewise, among members of the same age group, approximately 71% regularly use Instagram and 45% use Twitter.

Social Media Infographic

This chart demonstrates how prevalent social media platforms have become in today’s society.

Obviously, social media has become a dominant form of communication in today’s technological society, and is used for a whole host of purposes, including information sharing, news gathering, civic and political engagement, marketing/growing a business, video sharing and viewing, and networking, among many others.

I interviewed two college students, Julie and Julianna, and asked their opinion about how social media affects our generation today and how it affects their lives, as well as the addictive nature of social media.

Although social media is an extraordinarily powerful tool, with great power comes great responsibility. How much is too much when it comes to our use of social media platforms? Can a person (like Patrick Garratt) become psychologically dependent on social media, so much so that it turns into a dangerous addiction that interferes with their work, relationships, and personal growth?

The American Psychological Association (APA) defines “an addiction a complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive use of something despite harmful consequence.” In most cases, that something is a substance (drugs or alcohol). However, despite the fact that “social media addiction” has not been medically defined by the APA, dependency on social media resembles dependency on substances in many ways. A Harvard study even found that self-disclosure on Facebook triggers the release of dopamine, the same chemical released when taking an addictive substance such as cocaine. Dopamine is also released every time we receive self-validation from others through likes, comments, tags, and other reactions to our social media activity.

social medi

Although not clinically defined, social media addiction is a real issue that lead to complications such as trouble sleeping or concentrating.

According to Dr. Pamela Rutledge, a media psychologist, “Social validation is important; a Facebook like is a social signal. It affirms our existence the same way that someone nodding at you on the sidewalk does.”

Although not clinically defined, “social media addiction” is a widely used phrase to describe excessive use of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Youtube, Vine, Snapchat, and other forms of social media, to the point where it interferes with everyday functioning. Signs of this problem would include ignoring important aspects of life to spend time on Facebook, spending multiple hours a day on social media platforms, checking social media sites whenever one gets a chance, being more comfortable with your online social identity than with your real-life social presence, constantly posting online extremely mundane, everyday tasks and activities, using social media to escape one’s life struggles, and losing a significant amount of sleep to continue use of social media.

According to net, a person could be described as having a social media addiction  if they have a constant preoccupation with using Facebook and an extreme inclination to share content even when there is nothing noteworthy for them to share. These people have such a compulsive need to share that they do not consider the appropriateness of what they are sharing and whether or not it will be received well by their audience.

Moreover, social media addicts, according to net addiction, immediately turn to Facebook as their default choice of what to do whenever they have spare time. Facebook (or social media) addicts also use social media to escape from personal problems they are facing in their lives. The social media serves as a distraction so they do not have to face the psychological and emotional hurtles that present themselves in life. Also, those whom are addicted to social media become restless and agitated if forced to quit using social media. They enter a phase of withdrawal, similar to that experienced by addicted smokers, alcoholics, and drug users.

They also have problems in real-life relationships because communicating in front of a screen becomes much easier; therefore, social media addicts may sacrifice real-life social interactions, using digital media interactions as their predominant means of fulfilling their social needs.

Although, according to a study by the Pew Research Center, social media time accounts for 28% of all media time spent online, there are certain risk factors that can make individuals more likely to develop a social media addiction. These risk factors are similar to those that can be found in people suffering from other addictions, including drug or alcohol addiction.

Teens who experience high levels of stress may turn to social media platforms to help them de-stress and then become addicted to using those platforms. In addition, teens who have a poor social skills or a limited social life may be more inclined to develop a social media addiction, to broaden their social network. Teens who do not fit in at school are also more likely to develop a social media addiction. They compensate online for what they are lacking in the real world and, consequently, they feel more connected and accepted by others.




The Best Ways to Find Your Inner Voice as a Journalist, according to Pulitzer-winner Layne DeGregory

Layne DeGregory, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who writes for the Tampa Bay Times, hosted a webinar on Wednesday, April 17 through Poynter News University, in which she discussed the obstacles faced by modern-day journalists as well as her strategies to help journalists to succeed in their careers.

SP_374119_DIEZ_LANE                                          Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Layne DeGregory

One obstacle that DeGregory notes is a challenge to journalists today is avoiding jargon, that is, highly specialized language that only those in the field will understand. Instead, because they are writing or broadcasting to such a wide audience, they should use language that the average person can understand.  Another obstacle that DeGregory identified is using too many quotes. DeGregory recommends paraphrasing whenever possible. She advises amateur journalists to use quotes sparingly but only when it is necessary. DeGregory suggests, “If you can’t write the quote any better yourself, then include the quote as it was said.” Otherwise, she says, you should put it in your own words.

DeGregory led a lengthy discussion about how to find your voice and how to free your voice as a journalist.  One way this can be done, according to DeGregory, is to listen for dialog that could be used as quotes and also to “get in the head” of your interview subjects. She also recommends seeking silence in order to fully capture the moment. She encourages up-and-coming journalists to find someone whose writing they admire and to emulate that style, while at the same time adding their own uniqueness to it. DeGregory also promotes the idea of understanding the worldview and perspectives of interviewees, especially “teenagers, old people, and outcasts.”  She also says you should have someone else read your writing out loud so you can hear it read not through your subjective lens but as if you were an objective bystander. She also said that journalists should not fear failure but rather they should invite it so that they can learn from their mistakes.

In addition to her tips on finding voice and freeing voice, DeGregory discussed the three types of voice one can use as a journalist. The three voices one can assume as a journalist are third-person, second-person, and voice of authority. The second person is best to use when trying to grab the readers’ attention by pulling them into the story, so that they can empathize with the people involved in the story. This method does not always work (it requires skill to master) but when it does it can be quite powerful. It usually only works toward the beginning of a story and then falls flat. The third person account is the most common and is simply a description of the event and the facts. It works quite effectively for most stories. The voice of authority is the most difficult to pull off. In order to succeed at writing this way, journalists must get inside the head of the person they are writing about. They must understand the thought processes and the unique perspective about the person they are writing about.


Mobile Journalism is the Future of Journalism

Within the past decade, smartphones have transformed our lives in countless ways, enabling us to access information far more quickly and easily than we could have ever imagined. Smartphones have not only revolutionized our personal lives but have also heavily influenced many people’s professional careers. One industry that has changed drastically as a result of the smartphone is the field of journalism. Two communications students, my brother Stephen Dooner, and Julia Rufe, delivered a presentation last Wednesday to discuss the importance of mobile journalism.


Journalists use camera apps on the I-Phone to capture important events, such as this press conference, with crystal-clear quality.

Mobile journalism has become an integral sub-field of the study and practice of journalism. News writers, reporters, photojournalists, copy editors, and various other journalism professionals rely heavily on mobile technology nowadays when photographing,  filming, editing, and producing visual content.

In many journalism schools in Europe, mobile journalism class is a compulsory class for all students. They are trained in specialized workshops where they learn various multi-media skills, especially how to utilize the features of the built-in camera on their smartphone. It is important that they learn these skills as early in their careers as possible, considering that this is the direction in which the entire field of journalism is moving into the future.

The article from World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers that was referenced by Stephen and Julia in their presentation provides what is called a “Mojo Pyramid” to illustrate the various levels of expertise in the mobile journalism world. At the bottom of the pyramid are generalists, who are field reporters who provide a range of multimedia skills using various mobile platforms. Above generalists are specialists, who provide one story form at a professional level using specialized equipment. Finally, at the top of the pyramid are VJs, who are highly-skilled, solo job reporters who have specialized equipment and receive the most demanding assignments.

In bilingual journalist Clothilde Goujard’s article “Mobile Journalism: Defining a New Storytelling Language”, she discusses the impact of the mobile phone on capturing narratives. She includes a video in her article of the top three mobile journalism tips from Björn Staschen, a mojo trainer and head of NextNewsLab at German broadcaster NDR. The three tips are:

1) always clean your lens

2) always keep your phone in flight mode and

3) never lose your creativity

Overall, the mobile phone, especially the I-Phone, has revolutionized the industry of journalism. It is an incredibly powerful tool that captures video and audio very well and is able to greatly assist reporters, photographers, and news writers in countless ways.


Media Law Expert, Dr. Kathy Olsen, Discusses Important Legal Issues Regarding Journalism

Last Wednesday, Dr. Kathy Olsen, a media law professor from Lehigh University, spoke about some important issues pertaining to journalism and the law. Journalists must always ensure that they adhere to a strict code of ethics, which includes following First Amendment court decisions. A breach of any right protected by the First Amendment on the part of a journalist could lead to a lawsuit against said journalist.  The three broad topics that Dr. Olsen discussed in great length, related to media law and journalism, were libel, invasion of privacy, and copyright.

DR OLSEN                                                  Dr. Kathy Olsen of Lehigh University

Libel refers to any false statement of fact (defamation) which is published and injures the plaintiff’s reputation. The statement must be expressed as a truth, not written facetiously or in a satirical or otherwise non-factual sense. It also cannot be written as an opinion. According to the Supreme Court case NY Times v. Sullivan (1964), to gain a settlement against “public figures”, the petitioner must prove “actual malice” or “reckless disregard for the truth.” This means they must prove that the writer knew what they published was false yet published it anyway or did not even bother to check whether or not what they published was true or false.

Invasion of privacy covers several violations, including intrusion and disclosure of private facts, both discussed by Dr. Olsen. Intrusion refers to violating someone’s private space or private affairs either physically, electronically, or mechanically. It is trespassing where you do not belong. Some locations have a “reasonable expectation of privacy”, such as public restrooms, phone booths, and private sections of jailhouses. Another area of invasion of privacy is disclosure of private facts. This would include revealing to the public information about someone that is highly sensitive, confidential, or personal that any reasonable person would not want shared with the public. The facts are not newsworthy and stated in a highly offensive manner.

In terms of copyright, Dr. Olsen discussed fair use factors to take into consideration and the importance of trans formativeness, among other topics. The four factors of fair use, from a legal standpoint, are the purpose and character of your use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and the effect of the use upon the potential market. In these special cases, copyrighting would not be a violation of the First Amendment. If the original work is transformed, i.e., criticized, improved upon, or parodied, then the copyrighting is not unconstitutional.


copyright-white                                    Copyright violation is not protected by the First Amendment.




Is Independent Web Journalism on It’s Last Leg?

As noted by digital media strategist Dorian Benkoil, the fate of independent online journalism  may not be good.  Many leading independent web publications are crumbling to the ground.  For example, the Awl, which had been hailed an “uncompromising” and “intelligent” news source by its fans, has ceased publication as of mid-January of 2018. Other highly reputable independent web news sites, such as DNAInfo and Gothamist, similarly folded due to financial difficulties. Even BuzzFeed has had difficulty requiring revenue lately, along with many other independent web news outlets such as Gawker and Mashable.the AWLThe Awl is an independent web organization.

In many cases, larger companies are monopolizing the industry, crushing those smaller companies which cannot compete. For example the Huffington Post shut down their blogger network because they could not compete with other outlets, which shut out 100,000 contributors to that section.






My Hometown, Fox Chase: a Little Town in a Big City

For my entire life, I have called Fox Chase my home. Fox Chase is a town in Northeast Philadelphia that is named for the fox hunting that was done by early residents, all of whom were affluent.

There are many interesting places to go in Fox Chase, whether you are taking a stroll through the lovely, scenic  Burholme Park, eating a delicious cheesesteak or pizza at Joseph’s, attending Mass at one of the beautiful churches, visiting the rescue horses at Solly Stables, or catching a bus in the peaceful Lion’s Park. I know this neighborhood like the back of my hand and have many enjoyable memories of growing up here.

I decided to create a pic collage (with an audio narration) using Adobe Spark to highlight some of the most iconic places in Fox Chase. These places include Solly Stables, Wiley’s Lot, the Knowlton Mansion, Joseph’s Pizza, Lion’s Park, Schmidt’s Florist and Greenhouse, the Ryers’ Museum, the Old Brauhaus, and the Fox Chase Cancer Center.

I first included pictures of the city of Philadelphia, which I connected with my theme of social media. I demonstrates, through my pic collage, how Fox Chase possesses small town charm despite being part of a large city. Likewise, social media networks have small connections as their foundation but have been constructed into larger communities.

Is Social Media Impairing Our Interpersonal Social Skills



As of 2017, Facebook had approximately 2.2 billion monthly active users. Instagram had approximately 800 million and Twitter had approximately 330 million monthly active users.

Image result for social media

A phone screen with various social media apps displayed

It’s obvious that social media has become ubiquitous over the past decade, an integral part of people’s lives.  Social networks, such as Facebook, have grown, expanded, and innovated their sites and apps to attract more users, and have been very successful in achieving this goal.

Nowadays, it seems that people have two identities, which often merge but are sometimes distinct: a real world identity and a digital identity. For many people, almost every experience they have is captured on social media for all their friends to see, while there are others who rarely, if ever, use their accounts, and some who fall in between. What can’t be argued is that social media has changed our world and has changed our social experience.

Many argue that social media impairs our interpersonal communication skills. In my opinion, this conjecture would make sense because effective interpersonal communication is a skill that requires practice and repetition and people today practice face-to-face communication less frequently than they did in the past. According to a study conducted for the online casino Yazino, 1 in 4 people spend more time socializing online (using Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.) than they do socializing in person. Also, according to the same study, when given the choice, up to 11% of adults would rather stay at home to connect with people online than go out and meet people face-to-face.

Despite the prevalence of digital communication, research from media experts Ed Keller and Brad Fay’s TalkTrack suggests that 90% of the influential conversations we have everyday happen offline, while only 8% occur online. Based on these statistics, our real world identity is far more important.

On Tuesday, I walked around LaSalle’s campus and asked several students the following question: “How does social media affect our interpersonal communication skills?” I recorded their responses using the H2 audio recorder which I borrowed from the LaSalle’s Communication Center. (Below are the audio interviews.)

“I think interpersonal skills may be harmed as people who only use social media won’t understand how to have a conversation with people face-to-face,” said Brendan, a freshman.

Tom, a junior, had the opposite opinion, saying “For people who are naturally shy, social media can help with their interpersonal skills.”

Jon, a senior, feels social media is “a curse and a blessing at the same time” but that it can “null people’s idea of communicating in person.”

Justin, a sophomore, feels that “people don’t trust each other anymore” as a result of the indirect way we communicate through social media.