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Pettey 1

Megan Pettey

Dr. Harbinson


25 April 2019

Personal Interview 2: Dr. Chris Patti

1. As a professor in the communications department, what challenges do you believe students

are faced with in the age of social media as they complete their major?

“This is the wild west in terms of media development. You all are raised in this brand new world
of social media and even in the last ten years you’ve seen the world change. This is a rapid
change we’ve never seen before, and it’s affected every aspect. What I’ve seen as a professor,
students are more stressed, distracted, overworked, and overstimulated than ever before. Another
part of it being the "wild west” is we’re trying to figure out how to regulate this stuff, what
privacy issues are going on, it’s a stressful thing. In terms of presentation of self, this branding of
self and thinking of yourself as a product is a necessity. I think you have access to people like
you’ve never had before but I also think there’s a lot of stress and anxiety, and it makes college
harder than it has been before. There’s so many obligations spending hours plugged into a
screen, and it makes reading really hard texts harder than it’s ever been because you have the
mistake thinking that you can google anything. So taking five hours to read pages has never
seemed crazier to students. I think it’s never been more important, either.”

2. How do you believe the integration of the internet and social media has influenced the way
people communicate?

“I’m an interpersonal communications scholar, so I’ve seen a huge difference just in the
classroom dynamic. When I started teaching it was in 2005 before all of this started, I would
walk into a classroom and everyone would be taking. Now I walk into a classroom and it’s an
interpersonal ghost town. In terms of how I see it, it’s affected nonverbal communication, being
present while people are talking, every important interaction. This is a newer experience in the
last five years, the lack of feedback a manifestation of social media. No demanding of human

3. Do you think social media and the internet has been a positive or negative influence for
human interaction?
Pettey 2

“There’s definitely tons of positive benefits. Social movements, cultural “wokeness”and

awareness, we’re good at seeing what these tools give us and we’re unable to see what they’re
taking away. Neotribalism, the political spectrum, we can’t even agree with the people next to
us. The way I think about it is our culture is waking up, but our culture is waking up screaming,
and everybody’s freaking out. Social media’s a great place to speak, but it’s definitely not a great
place to listen. It’s harder to talk with people than it’s ever been before. I’m more interested in
learning the consequences to mitigate those.”

4. With the social media and the internet engrained in our society, how do you believe this
newfound influence has changed the news and the way in which people receive it?

College students have trouble determining what’s real and what’s fake. There’s so much
information, and this is with everyone, it’s so easy to find stuff that confirms what you believe
and to tailor your newsfeed to exactly what you want to hear and what angle you want to hear it
from that it leads to lots more bias and cloudiness. Fake news is a product of a media
environment, of a social media landscape. A democracy is only as healthy as it’s media
ecosystem. It’s a struggle for our our democracy, especially with journalism. It’s facing a lot of
heat right now. It’s hard because a democracy relies on educated public but there’s just so much
information out there that it’s hard for people to discern what’s legitimate and what’s not, what’s
“flat earth.” There’s an infinite number of ways to show it’s not real but it doesn’t matter to
them. It leads to dangerous, crazy thinking.”