Social Media

This week in class we are discussing social media, often referred to as the “new media”. People long ago got their news from the newspaper as they sat down every morning to enjoy breakfast or on the bus during their daily commute. Now the news is all around us. Not just is this news floating around us I would argue that it is aggressively infiltrating our lives whether we want it or not.
My life has been a constant use and abuse of social media, I use it and it abuses me. I never wanted my life to rely so heavily on looking at a screen for hours on end. Starting in elementary school we had “computer class”, this class covered how to navigate a computer, how to type (the way that no one actually types), and occasionally being able to play on things like Kid Pix (the toddler version of Photoshop).

As I grew older computers and technology became even more commonplace. Papers and assignments had to be typed and sources had to be obtained through online databases. I would of course also utilize the AOL Teen Chat Rooms around this age to make friends and discuss Hilary Duff.
In high school and college I feel that you need a computer to survive academically. Without one it would be difficult to complete assignments (of course needing a computer does not mean owning one. Many institutions offer computer labs). So now you have this computer that you are constantly plugged into for school. You’re finishing your assignments and feeling great about that…but really, who does not procrastinate? This is where social media comes in.
Social media runs my life because I allow it to distract me. I allow my friends from all over the world to keep me from writing my paper due in 12 hours because they just went on the worst date of their life, I have infinite photos of cats to scroll through, I can pick up my phone and scroll through even more cat photos on Instagram, I can use my phone to take photos of my own cats and Snapchat them to my friends. Sadly, I’m doing all of these things.

My life is not always ruled my social media. I spend three months every summer leading backpacking trips on the Appalachian Trail and making art in the middle of the woods with amazing 9-14 year olds. I get a few days off throughout the summer and check my email / Facebook a couple of times during those periods of freedom. Besides that I’m not that connected. I live for these summers.

I guess what I’m trying to say is social media can be great. It can be an immense networking tool for kids, students, parents, teachers, professionals, athletes, you name it. It’s amazing to be able to Skype or Facetime with a friend who is far away and really catch up. The problem that I have with social media is that it is so embedded within our use of technology for productive purposes. It’s impossible for me to focus on one thing for too long, while writing this blog post I’ve chatted with my friend who is celebrating his birthday in Los Angeles (I miss him a lot and I only get to see him during those unconnected summers so the ability to stay in contact via social media is overwhelming and wonderful), reblogged a few nature photos on Tumblr (the irony), Tweeted a few sarcastic statements in under 140 characters regarding my current emotional state (it is 4:30am after all), and scrolled through Gmail trying to locate some information relevant to my independent study meeting tomorrow. In a world where we have such sort attention spans that films have to be edited into shorter scenes so that we don’t get bored, where we have 20 tabs open to try and finally say something poetic, where we get distracted more than anything else: social media serves as an outlet. We have an ease of access, if you are already writing a paper why not use the internet browser to check up on your friends, that will only take you 10 minutes? This 10 minutes repeated many many times is what gets me into trouble. I don’t even want to tell you how long this blog post (which is a homework assignment) has taken me due to multi-tasking…
I will leave you with one very scary link. This calculator, created by Time: Tech uses the timestamps on your posts and an approximate amount of time that you provide to help determine how much time you have wasted on Facebook. The results are alarming. http://techland.time.com/2014/01/27/how-much-time-have-you-wasted-on-facebook/

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This is R[e]A[lly] interesting

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Some BT-A residents enjoying a midnight snack

As an RA on campus I’ve had an interesting year. From showing up two weeks early for a brutal training that included long hours and a free steak dinner, to meetings about when to have meetings about another meeting, to hanging out with some really great people I would not have an opportunity to get to know otherwise. It has its ups and downs for sure, but overall it is a unique vantage point of residential life that not everyone going through college gets to see.

Sometimes this vantage point is washing a few gross dishes (not mine) that I promised myself I would not touch, other times it is organizing events for the larger COA community, other times it’s revising policies through the Student Life committee to get passed through All College Meeting.

Student leadership at COA is unique, I think it is a combination of our size, location (and thus either hiding from tourists together or being so isolated all we have are each other), and general operation. I’m proud to attend an institution that cares about each student as a whole person, that offers programming suited towards even the most eclectic interests, and that creates embedded leadership roles that help the residential program run smoothly while also developing leadership skills (and resumes…) of current students.

PS: I’m not getting paid to write this, I promise.

PPS: An info session will be held later winter term for those interested in applying for RA positions for the 2014-2015 school year.

I(taly)nterviews

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Veneto, the region Taylor and I will be studying in this spring

As part of a short project for class we were asked to interview someone and then write a profile about them in reference to a topic that could either be predetermined or come out during the interview process. For this assignment I chose to interview Taylor, a friend who is also involved in the Italy program here at COA. The interview was more of a conversation than anything else, we talked about what in Italy we were most excited for and how the program fit with our academic focuses here in Maine.

This interview was productive for both Taylor and myself; she got to articulate her ideas for a project and receive feedback in regards to feasibility (location and resources) and I got to practice interviewing, learn about another persons research idea, and spend quality time with a friend.

Writing the profile was interesting and fun, I incorporated ideas, paraphrased statements, and direct quotes from the interview along with knowledge about the Italy program which I have first hand. Since I am also involved in the Italy program I did not have to do any research before the interview which almost made it feel like cheating.

Pitt girl… reads Pitt girl

Pittsburgh at night

Pittsburgh at night

As a college student in Maine sometimes I miss home. I grew up in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania until 2010 when I started going to school in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania has a specific culture that spans across the state, things I appreciated in Pittsburgh were relevant in Philadelphia and visa-versa. While I’m happy to have experienced this way of living for so many years, Maine is nothing like it. Going to school on Mount Desert Island is an interesting and unique experience, it can be really fun as well as socially isolating geographically. Maine has a very distinct culture impacted by its seasonal tourist industry and proximity to the ocean (can you say fisherman…?), a way of living unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. During the long cold winters with very little sunlight I often miss my other home, another place devoid of heat and light come November.

A blog I stumbled across is Pitt Girl which is hosted by Pittsburgh Magazine. This blog covers events and culture in Pittsburgh along with person laments as to how it is truly the best city. You can find PittGirl at: http://www.pittsburghmagazine.com/Best-of-the-Burgh-Blogs/Pitt-Girl/ . This blog features a post that recently went viral titled “10 Reasons Why Pittsburgh Owned 2013” (http://www.pittsburghmagazine.com/Best-of-the-Burgh-Blogs/Pitt-Girl/December-2013/10-Reasons-Why-Pittsburgh-Owned-2013/) , as a way to usher in the New Year, proud Pittsburghers (or Yinzers, as we self identify) posted this blog posting to their own social media, spreading around Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter like wildfire. Something I specifically noticed regarding the sharing of this blog post is literally ‘who was sharing it’, at least in my friend group it seemed to be most shared by students who are studying out of state and people my age employed out of state. This specific post seems to be a trigger for nostalgia, for people to realize that they grew up in a truly unique city that has so much to offer.

I’m so lucky to have grown up in such a diverse, bustling city full of art, music, sports, theater, community, architecture, and food and I’m so appreciative to have a window into what I’m missing while I’m gone. PittGirl gives me an opportunity to live vicariously.