How soon is too soon to "friend" a new acquaintance on Facebook? What does it mean to give someone a virtual poke?
A group of Niagara University communication studies majors investigate these questions and more in "Living By The Book: A User's Guide to Facebook," a tongue-in-cheek documentary that delves into the unwritten etiquette of Facebook, and how college students are using the world's most popular social networking website.
The 12-minute video constituted the final project for the eight honors students enrolled in Dr. Doug Tewksbury's "Information as Power" (CMS 362) course last semester. Presented as a parody of a 1950's-style instructional video, the film features interviews with NU students who answer questions about their Facebook habits and how they use technology in their lives. It also includes commentary from Dr. Todd Schoepflin, associate professor of sociology, and Nicole Schuman, an adjunct communication studies professor at NU and president of the Social Media Club Buffalo.
Among the topics discussed are how much time college students spend on Facebook, how relationships are established and maintained, and the potential implications of "overposting," stalking and "defriending" on the platform.
"If you use it the right away, there's a lot that can be done with it," Schuman says of the 845-million member social network. "It's great to be able to maintain relationships online, but you have to realize that that's not everything."
"Living By The Book" also offers insight on why Facebook has emerged as a phenomenon virtually unparalleled by any previous social trend, and how it affects everyday users. In the video, Schoepflin points out that Facebook presents a great way to build social capital.
"Facebook has unlimited potential for expanding and strengthening our networks," he says. "Facebook is amazing (in that regard)."
Niagara University students were responsible for all aspects of the video's production, from script writing and shooting to lighting and editing.
The production team consisted of Hollie Brown (from Pittsford), Jayson Clark (North Tonawanda), Katie Colombo (Rochester), Marc Davies (Las Vegas), Alex DiVirgilio (North Tonawanda), Amanda Galster (Cicero), Andrew Hart (Ithaca) and Alicia Wainwright (Little Falls). Fellow NU students Alan Trinca (Buffalo) and Erica Diederich (Syracuse) served as actors.
To view the video, visit NU's YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/niagarauniversity.
For more information on Niagara University's communication studies programs, call 716-286-8285 or visit http://www.niagara.edu/communication.