Sunday, January 31, 2010

Oh Goodness, We're All Gonna Fail!

I know you, dear reader; we are probably a lot alike. I imagine at some point in the last quarter of 2009, you perused the KSU Spring course listings in the hope you would find the perfect class – you know, the one where you don't have to read too much; the one where you don't have to write too much; the one that won't take up every last minute of weekend enjoyment when the winter weather turns to sun and fun.

Like you, I went through the list. One by one, I went through the offerings:

Professional and Academic Editing? Too hard.

Poetry Writing? Poetry is confusing.

Environmental Writing? I recycle my soda cans; isn't that enough?

And then, much like a beacon in the night...a healing balm to my chafed ice cold beer after mowing the yard on a scorching Summer was there. The clouds parted, golden rays illuminated the two words, breathing hopeful life into this student.

Social Media.

Word up.

“So, I'm going to get to play on Facebook for a grade?,” I asked aloud. Sweet. I am positive you thought the same.

Little could our minds comprehend how Social Media, particularly Facebook, would lead to academic catastrophe. For some, possibly worse.

All this time I've been thinking Facebook was fun. It was a great way to reconnect with old friends. It helped me keep in touch with the family members that were only used to hearing from me on Christmas.

But then, I was made aware of “The Study.” This confounded document led me to the understanding that we have all been set up to fail this course. It's true.

In 2009, researchers at The Ohio State University concluded that there is a direct correlation between Facebook and college academics. Specifically, students who use Facebook tend to study less and carry lower grade point averages.

“We can’t say that use of Facebook leads to lower grades and less studying – but we did find a relationship there,” said OSU doctoral student, Aryn Karpinski, co-author of the study.

Typically, Facebook users in the study had GPAs between 3.0 and 3.5, while non-users had GPAs between 3.5 and 4.0.

Ahhhh!!!,...I can feel my 4.0 slipping away through my browser!

However, if there is a silver lining to the OSU study it's that science, technology, engineering and business majors were more likely to use Facebook than were students majoring in the humanities and social sciences. Of course, that's only good news for our colleagues who avoided Social Media altogether.

It gets worse. Much worse.

After the initial pangs of despair subsided, I asked myself what else could possibly happen to me – to us – from partaking in Facebook during this Social Media course. The list is long and deadly, but I feel you must know that Facebook's evil tentacles reach long and deep. Besides destroying academic hopes, it also ruins friendships, is bad for marriages, is a detriment to adolescent minds, single handedly laid waste to the birthday reminder industry, raises the risk of cancer, and in some extreme cases, ruins Christmas.

Folks, don't say I didn't warn you when come May and you check Owl Express, you see a big “F” next to your name and Social Media.


  1. I guess it makes sense that if you are frittering on Facebook (hah!), then you are not doing other things. Such as studying. Of course, statistics are notorious for painting the wrong picture. It could be that there is a correlation between eating in the Ohio State cafeteria and lower grades, or having a foot-and-a-half of snow dumped on your head and lower grades.

    But there are other downsides to Facebook, even if this one turns out to be a blind alley. I recently received a friend request on Facebook by a guy I had not talked to since high school, which was 37 years ago. The thing is, I never liked this guy, and as I recall, he never brought me flowers, either. It wasn't an accident that we fell out of touch. I was actively hiding.

    I considered him to be, if you'll pardon the expression, a "dufe." I'm not even sure you can say dufe on the internet, but that just goes to show how strongly I feel. Dufe, by the way, was a seventies expression derived from the root word "dufus."

    So here I've gotten along just fine all these years without him, but now I have this friend request hanging over my head like an anvil in a Wile. E. Coyote cartoon. I don't know what to do.

    You forgot to mention that Facebook could just ruin your whole day.

  2. Nice entry, Chris. I'm sure we all know people who are addicted to Facebook - status updating their lives away. As with all good things, social media should be used in moderation. People need to eat, sleep, and go outdoors every once in a while.

    I can certainly empathize with Ray's dilemna. I've gotten more than my share of friend requests from "dufuses" in my past. In the beginning, I friended some of those people so that I wouldn't appear petty. Now that I'm a hardened, jaded Facebook veteran I just drop the "Ignore Friend Request" hammer down on those idiots.

  3. Digital Nation, the PBS show Dr. McGrath recommended, presented some of the worst cases imaginable-kids who were so addicted they had to go to a techno-free boot camp to try to get their lives back to normal.

    I would not be surprised to find that online social networking is getting in the way of studying for some kids. However, my first thought, and one that is echoed at the end of the article about the OSU study, is that the lower grades could instead (or at least in part) be the result of many other factors, including those personality traits that are drawn to socializing--in any fashion.