Today: Jul 23, 2024

Tweets dragging them down

Ryan Morgan, News Editor-

As of September 2010, Twitter announced having 175 million registered users writing about 95 million tweets per day. According to the website, Twitter is available in six languages and used around the world as a “real-time information network.” 

While tweets are limited to 140 characters, Christopher Piscitelli, director of the Office of Judicial Affairs at Southern, said the misuse of Twitter can be detrimental on a college campus.

“There are a couple of firsts with Twitter,” said Piscitelli. “Students are under the illusion that what they say is kept in these private networks. Comments they would make in a dorm but wouldn’t make in a large lecture hall are appearing online. It’s hard to fathom.”

Assistant Director of Student Life Sal Rizza, along with Piscitelli, will be presenting the dangers of misusing social media on March 14 and will be sending an open invitation to all of Southern. Rizza said he hopes students who attend the workshop learn the risks and importance of developing an online profile.

“Ultimately, we are fortunate to have the freedom to express ourselves however we wish,” said Rizza. “Exercising those freedoms can be accompanied by detrimental and long-lasting consequences.”

Piscitelli said he believes it’s all about understanding the risks of using sites such as Twitter. He compared the site, and others like Facebook, to a free background service, noting a person’s page can yield more information than a professional search. Piscitelli cautioned students who attended a workshop he presented with Rizza held in January to consider a fact: “your generation will be the first age group where someone doesn’t get elected for an online posting.”

In addition to the affects Twitter can have on one’s personal image and reputation, Rizza said he urges students to be mindful of the organizations they represent as well.

“Students irresponsibly using Twitter could not only be damaging their reputations, their futures, and relationships but those of they are close to,” said Rizza. “Additionally, they can truly be misrepresenting the organizations they are leading and those they represent.” 

Marylou Cirivello, vice president of Greek Life Council, maintains the organization’s official Twitter account. Cirivello uses the account to promote events sponsored by Greek organizations, categorizing Twitter as another means of public relations. Cirivello said the account has 76 followers and as followers “retweet” her content, more and more people are finding out about events. Despite the obvious advantages, Cirivello said Twitter can have a negative effect on one’s reputation.

“If you are constantly tweeting negative thoughts then your followers will have a negative image of you. Members of Greek organizations often forget that they represent their organization’s event when their letters aren’t on. The same goes for every club on campus,” said Cirivello. “When you don’t have your team jersey on, you are representing your team. When you don’t have your club shirt on, you are representing your club. No matter who you are, the things you say and the way you represent yourself on Twitter have a direct correlation with the image of your organization.”

Besides effecting one’s reputation, Twitter can effect safety as well. Judicially, Piscitelli said he has already faced a few situations this semester that could potentially enter into cyber bullying.

“Students are taking pictures of what people are wearing and putting it online. There is a sense of disrespect that is scary. Actually, we’re really reaching into more or less cyber bullying here,” said Piscitelli.

While Piscitelli said cyber bullying is more commonly seen in younger students, the problem has arose at Southern as students find it easier to antagonize one another online than in person. According to Piscitelli, for the targets of online bullying, it couldn’t have a greater effect on their lives, as the bullying can be a traumatic experience. Piscitelli said even parents have gotten involved recently, engaging in fights on Facebook. 

Overall, while there are risks associated with Twitter, Rizza pointed out definite advantages for individuals as well as organizations utilizing it as a tool.

“The potential for networking and sharing thoughts, ideas, and information at such a rapid pace with such a broad audience can lead to opportunities and connections that could not possibly have been attained five years ago,” said Rizza.

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