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Study Aid: "Your Social Life Is Not Your Social Media," Peggy Drexler, Ph.D.

The text of the article, "Your Social Life Is Not Your Social Media," is available  at Psychology Today on-line:

Note: This on-line version of the article is followed by user posts responding to the article, which might make a helpful starting point for thinking about your own response to it, or how it might be debated in general. 

Here are some other good sources about the same topic, some pro and others con:
  1. Bilton, Nick. “Disruptions: More Connected, Yet More Alone.” The New York Times 1 September 2013. 
  2. Gonchar, Michael. “Does Technology Make Us More Alone?” Student Opinion. The New York Times 14 October 2016. 
  3. Hunter, Mordecai. “Why Social Makes Us Even More Lonely.” Social Media Week 23 June 2015. 
  4. Reisenwitz, Cathy. “Technology is Making Us Less Lonely, Not More. (Pokemon GO Is Actually Alleviating Loneliness and Depression.)” Foundation For Economic Education 13 July 2016. 
  5. “Texting, iPods, and Social Media: Are College Students Addicted?" 
  6. Trudon, Taylor. “The Very Real Anxiety That Comes From Texting, ‘Likes’ And FOMO [Fear Of Missing Out].” The Huffington Post 26 February 2015. 
  7. Warrell, Margie. “Text or Talk: Is Technology Making You Lonely?” Forbes Magazine 24 May 2012. 
Here are some search terms you may wish to use to inspire your search or help you find more opinions, articles, and ideas for responding to the article:
  • social media and technology
  • trolling and catfishing
  • smartphone addiction and withdrawal
  • the interpersonal divide: virtual societies; the death of social manners; community in the technological age
  • sex apps (Grindr, Tinder, etc.)
  • technology and education: distance ed; on-line classes; etc

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Task #1: Active Reading and Response (15 minutes)

Use an active reading strategy to (re)read the assigned C.A.T. article, "Your Social Life Is Not Your Social Media": underline its main idea(s); circle or asterisk language that strike you as important to Dr. Peggy Drexler's argument; jot down in the margins your reactions as you read.

When finished, open to a new page in your notebook and summarize in your own words (not the author's words) the following:

  1. MAIN IDEA— What is Drexler's thesis, and what is the author's motivation to write this article?
  2. TOPIC POINTS—What idea, claim, or argument does each body paragraph make that connects it back to this main idea? (Hint: Find examples of repeated or related language statements used by the author in the introduction and/or thesis.)
  3. Q&A—Based on your active reading and response strategies, compose three relevant questions you'd want to ask the author, Peggy Drexler, Ph.D., about this article.
Task #2: Free-Write (10 minutes)

On a separate sheet of paper, free-write for ten minutes on any of the three questions you posed to Dr. Peggy Drexler in Task #1.

As you already know from previous free-writing exercises, this task is exploratory: you don't have to write with perfect grammar and organization; instead, let your mind wander over your tentative topic and record anything that comes to mind, regardless of how insignificant it may seem. Be spontaneous.

Task #3: Discuss
In groups of three (or four, if there is no other option), discuss and perform the following:
  1. Does the author take a position in this essay? If so, what is it and where does she express it.  If Drexler doesn't assert a specific position, what's your opinion about why she doesn't?
  2. Share with your peers the three questions you posed in response to Task #1. Discuss with them why you asked them. Were there similar questions posed by your peers?  
  3. Discuss as a group what "social media-induced angst" actually means. How does Drexler define this? Do you define it the same way? 
  4. Are you persuaded by the case examples Drexler uses?  Do you relate to them? Why, or why not? 
  5. What's your own position on the matter? Does texting technology and social media really make us anxious? Does it isolate us from one another? Does it make us lonely and unappreciated? Be open to disagreement (or agreement!) among your peers, but support all of your arguments with specific examples from Drexler's article, from your own life, or from your observations of others.
Task #4: Guess the Prompt

Remain in your group, and, based on your discussion and reactions to this article, collaborate on five possible C.A.T. exam prompts. Here are some suggested approaches to this task:

  • taking a position (agreement, disagreement, or both) with a specific point made by the author (rather than with the thesis or main position)
  • recalling a narrative response (a story, or personal anecdote, a personal case example)
  • proposing a solution to a problem related to the topic of your group discussion (school policies; enforcement of social media protocols; etc.)
  • raising another different but related topic prompted by your discussion of technology, isolation, and loneliness. Here again are some suggested search terms and themes:
    • social media and technology
    • trolling and catfishing
    • smartphone addiction and withdrawal
    • the interpersonal divide: virtual societies; the death of social manners; community in the technological age
    • sex apps (Grindr, Tinder, etc.)
    • technology and education: distance ed; on-line classes; etc

Hint: A useful approach to this task is to consider those alternative conclusion techniques—externalizing or editorializing—that Drexler, herself, could have used in the last paragraph of her article.

Task #5: Proofreading List

Break from your group, and open to a new page in your notebook.  List at least five frequent, specific problems for which you'll need to proofread before you turn in your C.A.T. Exam. Try to identify each problem by name:

  • Grammar problems: irregular verb forms; verb tenses; pronoun agreement; pronoun reference; subject/verb agreement; etc.
  • Punctuation mistakes: missing or misused apostrophes; commas to enclose phrases; commas used in a series; commas needed to create compound and/or complex sentences; overuse of commas; double quotation marks; colons to introduce quotations; etc.
  • Sentence-level errors (sentence boundary errors): fragments; fused sentences; comma-spliced sentences; starting sentences with coordinating conjunctions (f.a.n.b.o.y.s.); awkwardly long sentences; etc. 

When you are finished, rank the items on your list from 1 to 5, "1" being the most frequent, most serious, or most common in your writing.

Task #6: At home...

At home, continue to your C.A.T. preparation by further brainstorming the topic as well as your peer discussion from today's exercises. Complete the following:

  • Prepare an organized, written proofreading checklist by studying the topmost writing concerns you listed in Task #5, and devise a strategy to find and correct them.  Memorize that list!!!! (Also, remember to remind yourself that you should memorize that list!)
  • Using the links at the top of this page, explore some of the other positions in the debate about whether technology makes us lonely. (They're all brief, easy-to-read articles.) Perform active reading strategies on these articles, and let one or more of them inspire you to refine how you feel about Peggy Drexler's arguments.
  • Continue exploring on your own possible strategies to respond to Drexler's article, or the topic it raises.  Think of several other possible C.A.T. exam prompts it might be wise to anticipate, write them down, and create a scratch outline for each containing some basic points of strategy for development. Bring these to the next class meeting.


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