Having to wrap up two-years worth of knowledge in a single page is almost like trying to bottle up a small river into a one gallon jug. Early on in the course, we had to get our feet wet in the murky world of communications by establishing blogs, creating podcasts, and building videography, in order to better tell our stories. These technology tools were utilized and integrated into various assignments, in hopes of creating a more inclusive and invigorating feel for my audience. There was a plethora of vital information shared throughout the Masters program, and I’ve chosen to share a few of the most memorable aspects below.
Theory in Motion
One of the very first theories that resonated with me greatly, was Sociopsychological Tradition. This theory was learned early on in COM 601, and laid the foundation as it pertains to what exactly a theory was. Littlejohn and Foss; described a theory in its broadest sense as any organized set of concepts, explanations, and principles that depicts some aspect of human experience. Stephen Littlejohn defined theory more technically as “a unified , or coherent, body of propositions that provide a philosophically consistent picture of a subject” (p. 19).
What made sociopsychological tradition such a memorable sticking point, stemmed from the fact that it looked at individual behaviors. The study of the individual as a social being is the thrust of sociopsychological tradition. The theories of this tradition focus on individual social behavior, psychological variables, individual effects, personalities and traits, perceptions, and cognition. Although these theories have many differences, they share a common concern for behavior and for the personal traits and cognitive processes that produce behavior (Littlejohn, S.; Foss, K. 2011, p. 52)
With social media now being such a staple in everyday communication, sociopsychological tradition helps to identify manners in which individuals both receive and then process information. Considering how much mental health awareness has increased in the past few years, this theory recognizes the psychological influence in communicative experiences. Consequently, this tradition is most often associated with “the science of communication.” Much of the current work in this tradition in communication focuses on persuasion and attitude change – message processing, how individuals plan message strategies, how receivers process message information, and the effects of messages on individuals (Littlejohn, S.; Foss, K. 2011, p. 53).
The potential problem with utilizing social media as a constant form of communication, is that individuals lessen their ability to have organic face to face conversations, and it becomes easier to hide factors such as authentic personalities and social behaviors behind a computer screen. Thus the manner in which messages are processed, and then output, changes as a result of the manner in which they were received. Face to face communication will never be replaced, as it contains an authenticity that cannot be duplicated, yet increased technological platforms have made it convenient and beneficial for users to communicate outside of traditional means. This translates to more conversations potentially taken out of context, more “ghosting” (a form of ending communication or a relationship with a person without an explanation), and even more arguments on social media that could have been curtailed with sociopsychological understanding and theory.
Therefore; it is imperative that individuals utilize social platforms as a means of communicating, but not rely on them solely. Otherwise, they become prone to a one-dimensional understanding of individuals that lacks a depth that only face to face communication can provide. Ultimately, these tools should be used in conjunction with, and not exclusively.
Littlejohn, S., Foss, Karen. (2011). Theories of Human Communication. Long Grove, IL.
Waveland Press, Inc.
Research is the Name, and More Research is the Game
One thing you must master (pun intended) if you plan on completing the MA Communications program successfully, is the ability to do solidified research. The meat and potatoes of your journey; will revolve around your capability to select a topic and or question, and then thoroughly research the ins and outs of that topic. This action and task signifies that a student is able to obtain data surrounding a premise, and then analyze that data, in order to draw or support a conclusion.
As a person who loves being an advocate for change, one of the topics I decided to research surrounded minimum wage. For some the issue may seem miniscule; however, to those living below the poverty line or struggle, it is a significant day-to-day concern. The war on minimum wage looked at the concerns for those who were against an increase and the conservative need for two opposing groups to come together for the greater good.
The World of Digitalization
COM 613, afforded me the opportunity to study first impressions applying Goffman’s impression analysis. According to Goffman, when a person enters the presence of another, they seek to acquire information about the person, and that information enables them to help define the situation and what is expected from them and the other person.
I utilized a personal first impression experience to allow the audience to understand my initial thoughts, and how I found out they were relatively different from the person I was communicating with later down the road. This digital presentation walks through those impressions, and included framing, footing, and face.
It encourages the audience to be cognitive of their stance, and the narratives they may be unknowingly communicating to others. Regardless of whether a situation presents itself as negative or positive, it is imperative that the communicator recognize what is within their control and never allow what happens to them to impact what happens in them.
The Write Approach
Although research papers were a significant part of the MA program, essays were the fundamental glue-like structure embedded in each course. Despite them being typically shorter in length than a research paper, they packed no less the punch as far as content. Each paper had to be properly cited, and formatted in APA style.
In COM 624, I wrote an essay entitled “What’s in a Community, A Culture, and a Dream”. This paper focused on what makes up a community, and it trailed a social media community for a matter of weeks to observe the communication structure and unity within and non-traditional online community. As what we define as our community has expanded, it has created an opportunity for those in various setting to unite based on common goals or ideals virtually.
The Need for Ethical Literacy
Collegiate papers are far from busy work or task assignments to critique a student’s writing, they often call for some form of action or advocacy. This means that students have to be paying attention to the world around them, and problems that may exist, in order to best determine how communication can help resolve them.
An issue that I addressed and provided a resolution for, was the need for both financial and physical resources at the Humane Society of Charlotte. This paper not only focused on what the present challenges were for the Humane society, but it established initiatives and ideas that would help negate some of those issues.
Around the Globe
Communication practices have no boundaries, and is not merely limited to U.S. territory. Far often more than not, problems that exist in one region, will have a trickle down impact on others. For instance, although the minimum wage is an issue here in America, whether or not America chooses to increase the national hourly wage, will still be a factor on a global economic scale.
During Com 638, we often were tasked with discussing global impact on communications during our weekly discussion assignments. One of the questions pertaining to global communication, required that we identify what some of those challenges were and how would we go about resolving them. I decided to look at the internet, as an issue that deserved global attention.
Connecting the Dots
Being exposed and having access to all of this knowledge, is pointless without applying the information into daily use. One manner in which I was able to do this was through establishment of a connectivity plan.
The intent of this connectivity project, was to develop a strategic plan that analyzed the impact social media had on young adults., through social platforms such as Twitter. Twitter was utilized to capture research and responses to hashtags surrounding mental health and the effects consistent use may have had over the psyche over a period of time.
This strategic plan was necessary for me to explore since over recent years, there has been an increase in cosmetic surgery in young adults, which has been directly linked to social media. Consequently, if individuals are willing to alter their physical appearance as a result of social media interaction, then what does that say about the mental impact that seldom goes unseen?