Social Media, Warmth, and “Other Lobe: activity

June 6, 2009 at 10:09 PM

Here is another post that comes out of Jim’s conversations with Northeastern students.  It is touching on social media, something Shwen writes about in his blog, Med 2.0.


-Jim and Shwen




Social Media, Warmth, and “Other Lobe: activity


Jim Stellar and Ashley Stempel‘10


When we are not talking about how cooperative education experiences in industry have affected the career path built around her major of journalism, Ashley and I have been talking for almost a year about the uses of social media like Facebook and Twitter. In our meetings we have talked about how these types of media seem to be the much “warmer” media to younger people, and how they have become well integrated in their lives. We have also considered social media’s potential for creating an ongoing team connection for social purpose.  I see this as tapping into those same limbic brain circuits that we have been referring to in this blog to “other lobe” brain activity.  So we decided to create a conversation between us that maybe you could join.


Social media is everywhere. With new ways to stay connected popping up every year, it seems that whether you love it or hate it, have found yourself obsessed with it or believe it is demoralizing society, these types of media entities are here to stay.  Personally, I find society’s new-found romance with social media to be very intriguing. It is the media of the people. We personally decide whether to use it or not, and how to best use it to suit our lifestyle. However, the future of social media seems to remain in flux. With the primary use of media applications like Facebook and Twitter still being to notify the public of what you had for breakfast, it leaves some wondering if these media can be harnessed for a more purposeful use in business or social programs.


Web 2.0 applications have the capacity to be adapted to what our needs are as a user. For me, my needs in social media come two-fold. On one hand, I enjoy using applications like Facebook and Twitter for my personal use; to network, and stay connected with friends. But on the other hand, I found a potential way to use social media to not only communicate the deeds of my developing non-profit organization to the community (and world, which is made simple with Web 2.0), but to use social media as a working part of its stratagem. The non-profit is designed to open the minds of kids committed to state detention facilities, encouraging them to find better ways to present themselves to the world for job interviews, social networking, etc. We hope that by providing these youth with positive leadership, they will eventually become leaders themselves.  And to spawn leadership, one thing that must be in place is an evolving dialogue between leader and the led.


How does Twitter help you reach these youth in a way that improves upon other media?


When my co-founders and I sat down to discuss our vision and programming for this project, two needs arose. One was a means to create and foster the continuous conversation that must take place between leader figures and the youth, and the other was spread the word of our non-profit to the community. Both of these needs could be addressed through the use of Twitter.


To create and foster a conversation, the youth in my organization would have their own Twitter accounts. Typically Twitter users have a broad audience, with of hundreds of “followers”. But the youth in my organization would have a specific, monitored audience of family and loved ones with whom they can communicate back and forth. My hope is that having this kind of positive contact will help them to remain connected to their societal lives while remaining committed to Massachusetts Department of Youth Services treatment facilities.


Then, to create awareness about the non-profit, the organization has its own Twitter account, in which it “follows” community leaders and friends, hoping they will pay attention, and eventually “follow” its updates, as well. That is what I call the “town crier” function of social media, and most popular function of Twitter; used to alert an audience to something.


Although just a small piece of Ashley’s non-profit’s platform, we put out there for your consideration the notion that the use of Twitter will allow for a cyclical conversation. By definition, these social media programs are designed to produce that conversation in which it is much more likely the individual is engaged, particularly because they have the opportunity to respond and contribute, not just follow.  This active learning is something that we want to produce in the academy.  It is not only much more like the real world in which participants are required to produce and not just memorize and “spit back” on a test, but these social media devices are increasingly used in business and other communications.  For example, that is what Shwen’s blog (Med 2.0) is all about in the pharmaceutical industry. The question that remains and something that we may return to in future blogs is how we could use Twitter and other social media to promote learning from experience in college and thus enhance experiential education programs.


Now, readers, it is time for your comments.

The Music of Thought and Emotion: clinical interaction in social work

2 Responses to “Social Media, Warmth, and “Other Lobe: activity”

  1. Cynthia says:

    Ashley, I was very interested to learn about your non-profit and how you plan to use Twitter to help your organization’s youth remain connected to their families. I imagine that as it is often easier to write about feelings and painful experiences then it is to speak about them that this will be a very effective way for the youth to share things that they might otherwise have kept to themselves.

    Also, it was timely, after reading your blog, to come across the article in last week’s Time (6/15/09) “How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live”. Check it out for a complete history of Twitter and how users are steering the evolution of this form of communication.

  2. Hillary says:

    Using social media seems like a good way to connect people who are feeling isolated and direct their attention to constructive and positive topics.

    Much interesting work is being done on the way individuals interact with social media at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School — I suspect they would be very interested in your non-profit, Ashley!

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