President’s Column: Device Management and Intelligence

Joanne Broder Sumerson

Joanne Broder Sumerson

Joanne Broder Sumerson, PhD
joannebrodersumerson@gmail.com

Happy Spring and Summer!  Time flies by at record speed; I cannot believe I am already one third into my presidential term. Before we know it, we will all be together at the convention.  I am continuing some of the excellent work of our previous presidents and moving forward with my presidential initiative which has evolved from Device Management to Device Management and Intelligence.

What exactly is Device Management and Intelligence?  It goes beyond putting down the phone.  It highlights the emotional and social intelligence needed for the when, where, how, why, and what are shared through social media.  We have all witnessed social media faux pas when spontaneous posts, tweets, shares, or comments become permanently embarrassing viral sensations.

As media psychologists, most of us have embraced social media on how we stay in touch, network, and market ourselves.  In our roles as leaders, psychologists, educators, and family members, what do our social media posts say about us?  When we jump on the noisy bandwagon, how do our posts represent our personal identity, professional brand, community, and affiliated organizations?  How do we work with people who are dealing with the harsh consequences of a tainted online identity?  How do we work with people who cannot control the impulse to constantly participate on social media?  Our talented members of the Society for Media Psychology and Technology are addressing these issues on the forefront of all aspects of media research and practice.

A recent pop culture example of a lack of social intelligence through device use occurred at the annual 2017 Met Gala in New York City, a prestigious invitation only event at $30,000.00 (minimum) per ticket.  Selfies and social media posts at the event were strictly prohibited.  While most attendees honored the code of conduct, a group of novice celebrities of reality stars, models, and musicians proudly disregarded the rules and forgot the privilege of being there, crammed themselves into a public bathroom to take a selfie that was promptly shared on social media. It was also compared to a selfie shot at the 2014 Oscars taken by Ellen DeGeneres in a place that was clearly not a public restroom with a group of seasoned, tenured (10-40 years in the entertainment industry) prominent actors.  In the moment, the Bathroom Selfie group most likely felt young, powerful, rebellious, and caught up in seemingly harmless fun.  I am sure a large subgroup of fans laughed along and high-fived them.  However, what other messages were loudly communicated from the Bathroom Selfie, especially, when rookies compare themselves to award winning veterans?  That moment of fun might turn off fans, potential sponsors, and people who impact whether or not they stay publicly relevant.  If the Bathroom Selfie was equivalent to shooting oneself in the foot, what is a psychologist’s role in helping them to move on?  There are so many research and practical questions to consider.

I hope your membership in our division is as exciting as our field.  The Executive Committee is moving and grooving to keep us together to meet your division needs.  We hope you will tune into one of our Virtual Social Hours, catch or facilitate a future webinar, and mentor a student.  More information to follow.  I look forward to seeing you in DC in August!

 

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