Travis Conrad

First Year Seminar: World Going Viral

Essay 2

A Basic Analysis of “An Initial Examination of College Students’ Expressions of Affection Through Facebook”

            Facebook and social media in general has become such a large part of how young people communicate today. It seems as though kids are gaining access to these social media sites at younger ages. Some people believe this could lead to problems with communications. We see studies all over the place showing that people who use social media sites, specifically teenagers, have a hard time communicating in person. The research project that was described by the article “An Initial Examination of College Students’ Expressions of Affection Through Facebook” describes some of these communication inabilities. Some examples of communication problem the authors describe include, misinterpretation of what was said by either the sender or receiver, students fear to communicate because of social views, and general communication issues between members of opposite sex. The authors makes address fair points for the conclusions they are attempting to reach. However, I ultimately do not agree with the author in the sense that they are not taking all inputs into consideration when describing the lack of communication abilities. The author fails to take into consideration other outside technologies aside from Facebook. Today we see all sorts of social media including Twitter, Instagram, Myspace, etc. The author also does not mention anything of a child’s basic development of communication skills over time. A student’s basic communication development should not be viewed as a problem. The relevance of this study’s findings is limited. Only a few years later we are in the process of a migration away from Facebook.

            Due to Facebook’s decreasing internet activity, conclusions drawn about students’ communication problems from this study are no longer relevant. It is not nearly as relevant in society today as it was five to six years ago. The invention of the iPhone with the integration of Twitter almost has eliminated a need for Facebook. The ease of accessing Twitter with it being on an application on your phone fulfills the need to check social media sites. Twitter’s whole platform of updating people on what you are doing is so similar to a Facebook post on your own wall. Twitter is also a still growing social media world, so when more and more of students friends are getting on and “tweeting,” it makes more students want to go back and get on Twitter again. Society gets pleasure when their tweet gets “favorited” or “retweeted,” similar to a “share” or “like” on Facebook. Since the article is strictly talking about college student’s lack of communication abilities, I believe that the conclusions drawn cannot be proved because Twitter is becoming so popular. When students check Facebook, they also checked their twitter. Students were not asked if they went on to another social media site, only the number of times they went on Facebook.

            Texting is another variable that was not taken into account when conducting this experiment and is one more reason the results are no longer relevant. In my personal situation, when I thought that I lacked the ability to communicate, especially with a member of the opposite sex, it came from texting. The problem with people in society today is that they think they always need to be texting someone or in constant communication with someone. Middle school crushes is a prime example of this situation. When teenagers first get their phones and have instant communication to all of their peers at once, they will more than likely take advantage of it. The problem arises when the students run into their peers in person. They run out of things to talk about because they are always in constant communication with these people. They also believe that they need to be conversing all the time or it is awkward. The awkwardness is more present among middle and high school students. That does not mean that college students simply do not create awkward situations through texting.  Due to the lack of variables attested for in this experiment, the results drawn are no longer useful to be studied. Simply stating that Facebook is the problem of students’ communication is inaccurate and unproved.

            This study also forgets the basic concept that students’ communication skills will develop over time. Obviously, when we are children we need to learn how to say our first words. Then as young kids we learn how to treat our elders different than our young friends. In middle and high school we learn how to communicate with our friend groups, new students, members off the opposite sex, teachers, coaches, and members of society with positions of power. The objective in college is to experience more diversity. When experiencing more diversity, students will have to adjust and most likely change their communication patterns or abilities. It should come as no surprise to anyone that we see inabilities to communicate in college, especially during the freshmen and sophomore years when students are developing the skill to communicate with a more diverse group or individual. Once these skills are developed, communication for upperclassmen should appear to be better because it is a skill that they have developed over their time in college. In college students are also constantly meeting new people. Whether it be a peer or a potential employer’, students should not push the limits of communication until they understand the nature of relationship. The article makes it seem as though a lack of communication among students is a problem, when in reality it is all a part of adjusting to the “real world.” It seems rather unfair to blame Facebook for college students’ communication skills, or lack thereof.  The total disregard of the natural development of humans’ communication skills in this experiment leads me to question conclusions drawn from the experiment. For example, do we see an increased communication ability over time among students who use Facebook? Do we see different communication patterns between people who communicate online and face to face in comparison to those who strictly communicate face to face?  In order to make this study more applicable, variables would have to be isolated more so in a way that strict conclusions could be drawn from Facebook affecting communication abilities.

            Overall, the experiment being analyzed in this essay raises a lot of questions. The individual/group conducting the group only took Facebook into consideration. Elimination of other variables that could skew the results heavily in this study would have made the experiment more reliable. The idea that Facebook is the only social networking site causing  communication patterns and students development of communication abilities over time are two major variables not taken into consideration during this study. Technologies have had a large influence on communication over the past few year. This study is no longer relevant due to such advances. Those who read the study need to do so with caution as to not over analyze outdated results.