With everyone going nuts over the release of the new iPhone5, I thought it would be a good time to write a post about the tenuous relationship between fraternal organizations and our handheld computers we sometimes use to make phone calls. Don’t get me wrong. I know that cell phones are not responsible for the behaviors of students, but they have made it so much easier for students to post and share the dumb things they do in the heat of the moment. Most importantly, now in sepia tones.
The exponential evolution of cell phones has been an interesting development. As these devices become more advanced, the issues for fraternal organizations increases. A student can instantly check-in to bars on foursquare, send incriminating photos to the masses of 21st birthday debauchery via Instagram, and post hate-laced, slurred tweets through Twitter from the palm of their hand. I don’t want to forget filming the end of the evening vomit session and then posting it to YouTube! to relive after tomorrow’s recovery. Then we can laugh about it over and over again.
The reason people wait in a line for new iPhone releases is partly because they are crazy Apple-philes. The other reason is because it has absolutely simplified our lives. We can do so much from one device. The barrier for sharing has decreased dramatically and this wall across platforms is becoming thinner as well. So many programs are able to be connected to one another. It is to the point, that you can take a photo and instantly send it through numerous social media platforms. This is where things start to break down.
The students aren’t entirely stupid. Look at a photo album on Facebook and you will see what I mean. We are experienced enough to know that students are drinking: legally and illegally. But a “smart” student will make sure that there are no cups, red Solo or not, in any of the photos. They will untag themselves in pictures and contact friends to take down others. These are all good things, but it is not enough. We need to get better about promoting technology literacy to our students. This isn’t telling students, “You can NEVER post a photo with a red Solo cup.” It is having conversations about what it means to post these things and to follow certain Twitter handles or Tumblr accounts. Students may have a firm grip of privacy settings on Facebook, but what happens when this account is linked to Instagram, foursquare, Twitter, and Tumblr? Your filters may not be the same and next thing you know, your campus-based professional or headquarters staff member is made aware of things they probably shouldn’t know.
Hence, where problems arise. When something is easy, we’re more likely to do it.
My preference would be for the root behaviors to stop altogether. This is a pipe dream. In addition, I am not advocating for students to take an “absolute no social media” approach. This would be ridiculous. What I am saying is we need to have better conversations about the actions before the posts.
This generation, more than any other preceding it, has essentially lived their entire lives in the public sphere of the internet. In my opinion, this has contributed to the problems. There is a lack of filter because their world has essentially never had one. Because of this, many do not think twice before posting a questionable tweet and/or photo.
The cell phone will be the device that leads to the downfall of our fraternal organizations. The reason we fall will be actions of our members. However, the devolution will be televised, and our handheld computers will be the medium broadcasting it to the world.