Sociology 282
Fall 2016
Monday/Wednesday: 8:30 – 10:20am
May 213

Office: O’Connor 336
Office Hours: Mon/Wed 10:30 – 12:30 or by appointment
Phone: (508) 626-4864


It’s easy to take for granted that we live in a world of 24/7 mobile communication. Yet, this historically recent development is having profound impacts on how we live. Our aim during the semester is to explore social implications of the information technology revolution.  Topics include: the forging of virtual identities, effects on the quality of our social relationships; online dating, multitasking; and the dangers technology poses to youth.


This course will enable you to:

  • Recognize the powerful roles information technology plays in our society.
    • See your own life differently by noticing how it is being shaped by the ways you use this technology.
    • Become comfortable with expressing your ideas orally in front of your peers.
    • Write with focus, clarity, and brevity.


The success of this course hinges on the productive exchange of ideas through discussions, with minimal lecturing. Therefore, it’s crucial that you play an active role in these discussions.


There are no books you need to buy for the course! All readings are posted below.

*Please bring assigned material to class. Either print it or access it electronically in class via your laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

As a way of facilitating rich discussions, you are to post on Blackboard in advance of most classes. The dates when a reading response is due are listed on the schedule below.

Please post no later than 7am on the due date. I will not give credit for late posts. Your write-up should have two parts:

  1. A 2-3 paragraph critique of the reading, which differs from a summary. Whereas a summary highlights main points in the reading, a critique takes the discussion in a direction of your choosing. It explores themes or issues the reading raised for you. There are several ways you can frame your critique.
    — Something you found interesting and why.
    — Something you found confusing and why.
    — An important topic left unexplored.
    — Strengths/weaknesses of a study’s methodology.
    — How a concept or idea applies to your own life.
  2. Raise 2 or more questions for our class discussion. These should not be “yes/no” questions but instead “how” or “why” questions, since these generate more discussion.


I understand there are justifiable reasons for missing a class, but if you miss more than two it will affect your grade. If you have to be absent, please let me know. There is no need to give me a doctor’s note. It is your responsibility to catch up on material you missed.


Your final grade will be based on the following:

40% Reading responses
20%  Paper 1
20%  Paper 2
20%  Oral presentation


Given the Sociology Department’s commitment to maintaining the highest academic standards, students should be aware of the University’s policies concerning academic honesty, which are stated in the undergraduate catalog: “Integrity is essential to academic life. Consequently, students who enroll at Framingham State University agree to maintain high standards of academic honesty and scholarly practice. They shall be responsible for familiarizing themselves with the published policies and procedures regarding academic honesty.” Infractions include plagiarism, cheating on exams and quizzes, unauthorized collaboration with other students, and submitting work in more than one course for academic credit without prior approval of the instructor. The FSU Catalog defines plagiarism as “claiming as one’s own work the published or unpublished literal or paraphrased work of another.” Penalties for academic dishonesty may include receiving a failing grade for the course, academic suspension, and dismissal from the University.

Wed, September 7th

Course Introduction

*READ IN CLASS: Teddy Wayne, “Our (Bare) Shelves, Ourselves.” New York Times, December 5, 2015.

Mon, September 12th

*READ: Stephanie Rosenbloom, “Putting Your Best Cyberface Forward.” New York Times, January 3, 2008.

*READ: Peggy Orenstein, “I Tweet, Therefore I Am.” New York Times Magazine, July 30, 2010.

*READ: Sam Slaughter, “Text Me? Ping Me? Communications Overload in the Digital Age.” New York Times, December 12, 2015.


Wed, September 14th

*READ: Alina Tugend, “The Anxiety of the Unanswered E-mail.” New York Times, April 19, 2013.

*READ: Valeriya Safronova, “On Fake Instagram, a Chance to Be Real.” New York Times, November 18, 2015.

*READ: Jeffrey Rosen, “The Web Means the End of Forgetting.” New York Times Magazine, July 19, 2010.


Mon, September 19th

*READ: Clyde Haberman, “Mob Shaming: The Pillory at the Center of the Global Village.” New York Times, June 19, 2016.

*WATCH: Jon Ronson, “How One Tweet Can Ruin Your Life”


Wed, September 21st

*READ: Natasha Singer, “The Digital Disparities Facing Lower-Income Teenagers.” New York Times, November 3, 2015.

*READ: Marina Micheli, “What is New in the Digital Divide? Understanding Internet Use by Teenagers from Different Social Backgrounds.” In Communication and Information Technologies Annual (Studies in Media and Communications 2915, Edited by Laura Robinson, Shelia R. Cotten, Jeremy Schulz, Timothy M. Hale, and Apryl Williams.


Mon, September 26th

*READ: Sherry Turkle, “Stop Googling. Let’s Talk.” New York Times, September 26, 2015.

*READ: Jenny Davis, “Our Devices Are Not Turning Us Into Unfeeling Robots.” The Daily Dot, November 15, 2016.


Wed, September 28th

*READ: Andrew K. Przybylski and Netta Weinstein, “Can You Connect with Me Now? How the Presence of Mobile Communication Technology Influences Face-to-Face Conversation Quality.” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships July 2012 1-10.

*READ: Stephen Marche, “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” The Atlantic, April 2, 2012.

*READ: Mark Oppenheimer, “Technology Is Not Driving Us Apart After All.” New York Times Magazine, January 17, 2014.


*OPTIONAL EXTRA CREDIT – Attend the presentation given by Tressie Cottom at 4:30pm in the McCarthy Center Forum and write about it.

Mon, October 3rd

*READ: Verena von Pfetten, “Read This Story Without Distraction (Can You?)” New York Times, April 29, 2016.

*READ: Timothy Egan, “The Eight-Second Attention Span.” New York Times, January 22, 2016.


Wed, October 5th

*READ: Teddy Wayne, “The End of Reflection.” New York Times, June 11, 2016.

*READ: Neil Swidey, “The End of Alone.” Boston Globe Magazine, February 8, 2009.


Mon, October 10th

No class – Columbus Day

Wed, October 12th

No class – Yom Kippur

Saturday, October 15th

*Paper 1 due

Mon, October 17th

*READ: Christine Rosen, “Our Cell Phones, Ourselves.” The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology and Society, Summer 2004: 26-45.


Wed, October 19th

*READ: Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, “Hello, Stranger.” New York Times, April 25, 2014.

*READ: Christine Rosen, “Are Smartphones Turning Us Into Bad Samaritans?” Wall Street Journal, October 25, 2013.


Mon, October 24th

*READ: Christine Rosen, “Romance in the Information Age.” The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology and Society, Winter 2004: 3-16.


Wed, October 26th

*WATCH: Mandy Len Catron, “Falling in Love is the Easy Part”

*READ: Joyce Wadler, “No! There’s Something About Me You Haven’t Googled?” New York Times, June 2, 2016.

*READ: Kate Murphy, “In Online Dating, ‘Sextortion’ and Scams.” New York Times, January 15, 2016.



Mon, October 31st

*LISTEN: “Can You Have a Whole Relationship Through Texts?” Note to Self podcast, October 14, 2015.

*READ: Daniel Jones, “Romance at Arm’s Length.” New York Times, February 6, 2014.

*READ: Richard Kearney, “Losing Our Touch.” New York Times, August 30, 2014.


Wed, November 2nd

*WATCH: Eli Pariser, “Beware Online ‘Filter Bubbles”

*READ: Lindsay Meisel, “Don’t Blame the Internet for Political Polarization.” Breakthrough Journal, Summer 2013.


Mon, November 7th

*READ: Nicholas D. Kristof, “After Recess: Change the World.” New York Times, February 4, 2012.

*READ: Zeynep Tufekci, “#Kony2012, Understanding Networked Symbolic Action & Why Slacktivism is Conceptually Misleading.” Technosociology Blog, March 10, 2012.

*READ: Nicholas Kristof, “Payday for Ice Bucket Challenge’s Mocked Slacktivists.” New York Times, September 3, 2015.


Wed, November 9th

No class – sick day

Mon, November 14th

*READ: Ash Read, “The Deeper Meaning of Emojis: What You Need to Know on How Social Media Is Changing Communication.”, January 19, 2016.


Wednesday, November 16th

*READ: Danah Boyd, “Addiction: What Makes Teens Obsessed with Social Media.” Pp. 77-99 in It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014


Monday, November 21st

*READ: Janis Wolak, David Finkelhor, Kimberly J. Mitchell, and Michele L. Ybarra, “Online ‘Predators’ and Their Victims: Myths, Realities, and Implications for Prevention and Treatment.” American Psychologist February/March 2008 63 (2): 111–128.

*READ: Danah Boyd, “Danger: Are Sexual Predators Lurking Everywhere?” Pp. 100-127 in It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014.


Wednesday, November 23rd

*READ: Ian Parker, “The Story of a Suicide: Two College Roommates, a Webcam, and a Tragedy.” New Yorker, February 6, 2012.

*READ: Danah Boyd, “Bullying: Is Social Media Amplifying Meanness and Cruelty?” Pp. 128-152 in It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014.


Mon, November 28th

No reading!

Wednesday, November 30th

*READ: David Finkelhor, “The Internet, Youth Safety and the Problem of “Juvenoia.’” Crimes Against Children Research Center, January 2011.

*READ: Adam Thierer, “Why Do We Always Sell the Next Generation Short?” Forbes, January 8, 2012.


Mon, December 5th

Oral presentations

Wednesday, December 7th

Oral presentations

Monday, December 12th

*READ: Neil Postman, “Technology as Dazzling Distraction.” Education Digest 1994 59(8).


Wednesday, December 14th

Course wrap-up

Wednesday, December 21st

*Paper 2 due