Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Today’s students can’t imagine life without Facebook

By Beverly Drapalik

Let’s face it.  Most of us reading and enjoying SALT are baby boomers, well-acquainted with stationery, pens and stamps.  Snail mail is still OK with us!  However, some of us have become lax with snail mail since we have become so technologically “savvy.”

I never thought I’d become nonchalant about going to my mailbox every day.  The mailperson probably thinks I’m out of town three out of four days a week, and he’s working some muscles trying to stuff junk mail into the box by the third day.

Yes, I have become used to my daily e-mails even though most of them are advertisements.  I have become accustomed to incorporating technology within my classrooms.  I have enjoyed—truly enjoyed—keeping grades on the computer instead of in paper grade books. 

I love being in the kitchen, multi-tasking while I cook, answer e-mails and look up recipes.  I have not entered the new world of the text, Facebook and Twittering.  I CAN text, I just don’t choose that world unless I need to reply to my doctor who is on the cutting edge of appointment reminders! Losing time in the day is one factor in my choice, even if Pinterest.com is the most interesting site since Martha Stewart!

Students at Wilmington College are constantly on the Internet or the newest phones.  They aren’t sure they can live without technological correspondence, but they also recognize some problems it poses.
Olivia Taylor thinks, “Technology is our biggest love affair, but also our worst enemy.”  She loves to “keep up with friends and family,” but she also recognizes a problem. 

“People do probably get on Facebook way too much, allowing it to consume their time … It’s a distraction more than anything else,” she says.

Other students have suggested that writing essays and homework in general takes twice the time because their Facebook account is always open.

Quentin Steverson praises Facebook. “Facebook came in handy when I planned my graduation party,” he notes.

Quentin had no need of addresses and phone numbers.  He took care of his party with a click of a button.  So much for handwritten invitations!  He says that texting and Twitter are so much a part of students’ lives that the “world would go crazy” without these conveniences.

The quick reply to a text is what helps Emily Noskowiak the most.  She can get a reply to a text “within a few minutes.”  She has gotten many “directions through a text.”  She is careful to say she pulls to the side of the road to read directions on the way to a friend’s house. 

She has also used texting before she drives to the grocery store; she asks housemates what they would like her to buy.  Then, while in the store, she gets “responses of what each would want.”  This makes it “easier to get exactly what everyone wants without a fuss.” 

Even though technology is a student’s biggest “love affair,” this whole new world can be challenging.  We shutter when thinking about cyber-bullying, sexting, and legal battles.  These crucial matters make other challenges, like “loss of service for a few moments,” quite frivolous. 

Students, especially, encounter another challenge in this new world when they recognize the use of Facebook by employers.  Students who interview for jobs must realize that potential employers have access to some information on Facebook and therefore must consider shutting down Facebook during the interview process.

This whole new world of communication can be life-saving as well as hideous - strong adjectives, but watching the news will heighten the paradox of technology for you. 

I prefer to dwell on the life-saving, wonderful aspects of technology.  So, maybe it’s time to start my Facebook account and look for people to help!  Thank you, students.

Beverly Drapalik lives in Wilmington with her husband, Jeff. They also live with a dog, a cat, a parrot, chickens and bees. She teaches English at Wilmington College.

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