Adam Constantine: Don't be a social media separatist

Elon's social media manager asks students to consider whom they follow and how they access information online.

Elon University social media manager Adam Constantine ’10 warned students against creating a social media echo chamber that limits potential sources of information and eliminates points of view in a talk Sept. 13 in Daniel Commons in the Danieley Center Neighborhood.

One benefit of social media, Constantine said, is users are given the freedom to follow whomever or whatever they choose. But that can also be a drawback, if it means they aren’t exposing themselves to a variety of sources.

“Social media gives you the freedom to unfollow or ignore whatever you want,” Constantine said. “Getting only one side of an issue can keep you ill-informed. There’s something to be said for ridding your social media of misinformation, but when you take everyone off of one side of an issue, that skews your thinking.”

It also possibly leads to what Constantine called social media separatism, defined as content created for the purpose of resonating with only one part of an audience. And social media separatism can be performed by news organizations, people or other entities interested in distributing clickbait for the purposes of generating money.

“It’s practiced for the sole reason of gaining revenue,” Constantine said. “Our jobs as consumers is to make sure we’re not falling into a trap, and a lot of times it’s so difficult, especially in the heart of the moment.”

And Constantine cautioned students to be careful about what information they post, share or tweet during times of emotion. Why? In part, because employers are often watching and checking up on potential applicants and employees.

So, Constantine said, it’s important to think in the long term because short-term satisfaction can impact future opportunities.

“Social media has made our society expect two things: one, instant gratification. And two, ease of knowledge,” Constantine said. “We expect to find the information we want much easier than is necessary. Research is extremely important. Sharing bad links can show anything from laziness to ignorance to intentional deception. Each one has various degrees of egregiousness.”

Constantine encouraged students to pay careful attention to how they portray themselves online. He told them to think carefully before transmitting a thought or image to the rest of the world that may alienate, insult or incense.

Because in the end, it’s the audience that will level an opinion on the appropriateness of a tweet or a post or a snap or an Insta.

“When it comes to social media, perception is greater than reality,” he said. “At the end of the day, what your audience thinks is what matters. You control the message you put out. Your audience controls how it’s interpreted. So make sure anything you put out is worth the potential ramifications. And if it’s not, let it go.”