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Olson analyzes social networking

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Brianna Means
Staff Writer

Facebook has evolved beyond a vehicle for keeping up with friends into a way for people to get ahead in their professions and more.

Professionals use Facebook as a way to get their name and face out to the public.

This week’s faculty lecture, titled “Social Support, Efficacy and Life Satisfaction: What is the impact of Facebook?” was led by Associate Professor of Management and Leadership Deborah Olson.

The lecture was held at noon on Monday in the President’s Dining Room.

Olson questioned whether Facebook is more of an asset or a problem.

It seems that some people use Facebook for social purposes rather than face-to-face or over-the-phone communication, Olson said.

“People all around the world are using Facebook for more than just expansion of relationships now, such as elections, regime change, activism,” Olson said.

Olson cited the use of Facebook in President Obama’s previous presidential campaign and coverage of revolutions in the Middle East as examples of its various uses.

People use Facebook mainly as a way to maintain relationships and have social eminence through personal or professional means, Olson added.

This is especially true now, since grassroots candidates and professionals are using Facebook as a means to get their name and face out to the public.

“The big question that is arising with the expansion of Facebook is whether or not employees should be allowed to use Facebook at work,” Olson said.

“Is the use of Facebook in the work setting inappropriate or is it a beneficial way to network?” Olson said.

“Companies are saying that if they find that an employee is using Facebook at work, they then have the right to look through that employee’s account to see what it is they were doing and if they do not like what they see, it might lead to being fired,” Olson said.

Olson questions whether this is an invasion of privacy for a company to do this.

However, she stated that it is up to the user to set privacy settings as well as maintain a dignified page.

According to the lecture, Facebook pages are now being taken into account when people are applying to college and work.

Employers and colleges are going to think twice before accepting someone who either has inappropriate pictures or wall posts because they feel that what they see on Facebook is what they will get at work and/or school.

“Facebook does show how people truly are,” sophomore biology major Denise Galaviz said. “If a girl has inappropriate pictures up, people tend to think the pictures show what kind of person she is.”

While researching the topic, Olson examined the context of relationships and the difference between face-to-face relationships and Facebook relationships.

Olson said that people seek three types of social support: emotional, informational and instrumental.

“Emotional support is when you look to friends to listen, show concern and spend time with each other,” Olson said.

“Informational support is the sharing of ideas, contacts and advice and instrumental support is lending money, helping a friend move and assisting with a problem.”

“People can also define who their friends are by who is online at the same time they are,” Associate Professor of English David Werner said.

The people who are online more tend to talk to other people who are online often.

Olson found through her research that in both face-to-face and Facebook interaction, the order of importance for these social constructs were the same, with emotional support as the most important followed by information and instrumental support.

However, it turned out that face-to-face communication was the most important for emotional support.

Brianna Means can be reached at

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