Final Project Part One: Critical Analysis Portfolio: Critical Analysis of Social Networking through the Four General Education Lenses

IDS 403 Final Project Part One: Critical Analysis Portfolio

Critical Analysis of Social Networking through the Four General Education Lenses

Southern New Hampshire University


Social media and social networking have been instrumental in many major events around the world. It is fair to say that social networking is a subcategory of social media. Many people think that social media and social networking are one and the same and therefore can be used interchangeably. That is a misconception . I have chosen this topic because I feel that it has had great impact on the world that we live in, perhaps more than any other technology. It has changed the way we communicate and interact with others when not face to face, in both positive and negative ways.

In this paper, I will discuss how social networking has impacted society by examining social networking via the history lens; its expression of cultural values via the humanities lens; its role in the development of STEM-related disciplines via the natural and applied sciences; and its impact on relationships between people via the social science lens.

Lens Analysis


Interacting with friends and family across long distances has been a concern of humans for centuries. As social animals, people have always relied on communication to strengthen their relationships. When face-to-face discussions are impossible or inconvenient, humans have dreamed up plenty of creative solutions. The earliest methods of communicating across distances were letters, then the telegraph and telephone (Hendricks, 2013). These inventions were revolutionary. They allowed us to connect with friends and family in ways we never dreamed.

Enter the internet, chat rooms, and social media. Where we once had to write a letter that could take weeks, or months, to reach its destination, we now could talk to someone “real-time.” Not only to someone we already know, but to people we didn’t know as well. We can connect with others that we don’t know to discuss social issues that may affect us all. A good example is a neighborhood Facebook page where members can discuss everything from topics for the next neighborhood watch meeting, organizing a community charity event, to looking for a walking buddy.

Social networking allows us to get together online and discuss social issues where we might not do so in person. It can be a way to share ideas and opinions so that we can learn, or gain an understanding how others feel about certain issues. This can be positive or negative. Social media has empowered some to attack others who have beliefs that don’t match with theirs, even leading to bullying at times. There are some sites where it’s just a simple poll and can be interesting to see where others stand up against your own views. A good example of this is a site called I Side With, which is a site where you can take quizzes, see polls, and see how other’s feel without allowing for positive or negative comments (I Side With, 2019).

The Humanities

Design and visual arts are part of the most favorable media shared on social networks. Sharing images and video content indicates higher engagements and exposure compared with text status on Facebook. Social networks that are based on visual arts and design such as Pinterest have proven success in the social market. Therefore, we should stop blaming ourselves for using our social media accounts as indulgent and start to look at social media from a different perspective to understand how to form this tool for the benefit for our creativity and fuel our talent (Elmansy, 2015).

Phil James argues in his article 8 Reasons Why Social Media Is Decimating Art and Literature that “social media is eroding the role of art and literature” (Qwiklit, 2014). I tend to agree with the case that he makes. He argues that we are forced online to make judgements based on how many likes, comments, and shares a post gets and not necessarily on the art itself. Art is meant to make you contemplate and not necessarily make you happy. Social media can also seem loud and many creators are not. Case in point: I live in Nashville where there are many creatives in many different mediums. Many of them struggle with social media and networking because they are either introverts, or they just don’t understand how to use it to their advantage. A friend was told that they wouldn’t even consider her for a record contract, regardless of how much they loved her and her music, until she had a certain amount of followers on Facebook. So then the artist starts chasing followers instead of being focused on creating or performing their art. And unless you have money and can pay someone to handle your social media for you, it can be a real struggle.

The Natural and Applied Sciences

Natural sciences deal with the physical world and include astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology, and physics.  Applied science is the process of applying scientific knowledge to practical problems, and is used in fields such as engineering, health care, information technology, and early childhood education (Cambridge College, n.d.).

Whether the science is natural or applied, scientists are increasingly embracing social media in their professional lives.  A 2015 survey found that 47% of scientists connected with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), use social media to follow new discoveries and discuss science (Pew Research, 2015). The ability to build social media networks has helped cultivate communication and collaboration between scientists regardless of where they are in the world.  These include broad social media outlets, the most popular being Twitter and Facebook, but also more specialized platforms that cater to smaller groups that pool resources. The digital revolution has provided alternative routes to disseminating scientific discoveries and keeping up-to-date with the literature.

Virtually all scientists engage with citizens. Mid-career and older scientists are especially likely to speak to reporters. Younger scientists are more likely to use social media. And blogging is something that equally spans the generations under age 65 (Pew Research, 2015).

Science communication is viewed as critical to ecology and conservation, where research findings are often used to shape public policy and mainstream media attention. Though much of scientists’ communication on social media is directed at other scientists, by virtue of the medium, information is making its way to the broader community, noting statistics showing that nearly half of ecologists’ followers on Twitter are non-scientists, environmental groups and the media.

Ecologists and conservation scientists are dealing with applied problems that the public cares a lot about. So when science gets stuck in the circles of academia and doesn’t make it out to the public, it’s doing that publicly funded research and its potential applications, a disservice. In this era of alternative facts and some mixed messaging surrounding science, data-driven scientific information offers a light of truth (Science Daily, 2018).

The Social Sciences

Studying society, culture, and human relationships will lead us to an understanding of how people live and how to improve our lives. In his article titled “Social Media Is About Social Science Not Technology,” Brian Solis states that “Social science is the study of society and human behaviors. As an umbrella term, we should think about social media and mobile behavior as it’s related to psychology, anthropology, communication, economics, human geography, ethnography, et al. After all, everything comes down to people (Solis, 2012).

Social media have rendered the opinions and interactions among complex networks of individuals accessible and searchable. Such data is of interest to social scientists. Accessibility to voluntarily generated and often publically published content on social networking and social media sites provides a strong draw for social science researchers. Today’s technology not only equips scholars with tools and methods to analyze Big Data, but also generates the Big Data itself by creating platforms over which ordinary people lead traceable social lives, and get transformed into behavior patterns: Their activities, connections, and products are collected, saved, and can be subjected to analysis (Felt, 2016).

Once published, Big Data social media research can serve as a great tool for those working in social science professions. According to a special issue called “Social Media, Internet and Society” published by MDPI, articles can be wholly theoretical or incorporate empirical data, broadly defined, that illustrates a theoretical argument and/or complicates existing theoretical debates. A partial list of suggested topics includes network formation and maintenance, race and racism, big data, small data, gender and sexism/cis-ism, intersectionalities, courtship and dating, sex and sexuality, algorithms and curation, privacy and publicity, digital dualism, augmented reality, popular discourses of new and social media, embodied technology, social media ecologies, prosumption/identity prosumption, political processes, and labor and exploitation MDPI, 2017). 



Explains how integrating the four lenses helps understand how problems in technology impact both professional and personal contexts

The four lenses are present in everyone’s personal and professional lives. Studying technology through them helps us understand how problems in technology impact both professional and personal contexts. The history lens is the people, events, and experiences of the past that shape our understanding to help us live better lives today as well as planning for the future. The humanities lens is basic human values, behaviors and emotions at personal and professional levels which help determine both individual and group behaviors. The natural and applied sciences lens is the study of STEM in order to understand, criticize and bring in changes in order to benefit society. The social sciences lens informs people about human life and society on both a micro and macro level. Integrating all four of these lenses greatly benefits people on a personal and professional level because the more people learn through various knowledge, skills, information, studies, and experiences the more they can grow and understand each other.

Social Practices

Social practices have been shaped by issues and events in technology in modern culture. Technology is changing every aspect of our lives. The benefits provided by new digital approaches are having a huge impact on our societies.  But technology can’t replace human interaction. As humans, we learn a large amount of our behavior socially. Between 70 percent and 80 percent of our communication is often non-verbal (Wageningen, 2017). If we look at communicating via social networks, or other non-verbal technologies like email or text, we lose the non-verbal clues that help us understand the intent of the speaker. Most people have misread the tone of an email or text, or a social media post. We need to combine the human and digital elements to communicate across our borders.

Benefits and Challenges

There are many benefits and challenges with technology, specifically social networking. Some of the benefits are that social networking can be used to build community and connect people at the local, national or global level, whether it be students, professionals, or private citizens. A site like Facebook could serve as an opportunistic launching pad for a new business owner, or it could be an inescapable source of negative peer pressure for a young teen. There are pros and cons to everything in life — and that includes our social networking habits. The pros of social networking include the ability to connect to people all over the world, easy and instant communication, real-time news and information discovery, great opportunities for business owners, and general fun and enjoyment. The cons of social networking include information overload, privacy issues, social peer pressure and cyber bullying, increased feelings of social isolation, distraction and procrastination, and sedentary lifestyle habits and sleep disruption. Social networkers should focus on using social media for all the good points outlined above, but be wary of falling victim to the dark side of an online interaction (Moreau, 2019).


Analyzing technology, specifically social networking, can help interactions with those of a different viewpoint, culture, and perspective. Understanding that this technology has changed how we interact with each other may help us to change the way that we use it. Once we realize that social networking is a tool not to be replaced by in person interactions with other human beings, and that we should use that tool as a tool, and not as a replacement for real relationships, the more liberated we really will be.


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