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#MConnected: Summer Reading Program 2017: Home


Welcome to the Meredith College
Summer Reading Program

Please read the seven articles below and watch the video then answer the corresponding questions.  Once you arrive on campus you will discuss these articles with your peers, faculty and staff members.  Your classes might have related assignments.  Enjoy your reading.

Is She That Cool Girl on Instagram?

Clara Dollar, a college senior, describes the “consistently cool” girl she presented on Instagram and Facebook and the relationship that fizzled out when she couldn’t break out and be herself.

Read:  My So-Called Instagram Life


  1. Have you observed awkwardness in friendships and dating relationships like the ones Clara Dollar describes?
  2. Do you think there could be a positive spin on a “cool” social media presence?  How could a person benefit from a curated profile?
  3. How does Dollar use humor to make her point?
  4. What solutions does Dollar try?

...but there's hope: Try Google

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz has written a book called “Everybody Lies:  Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell us About Who We Really Are.”  In this opinion piece he writes that Google searches, rather than social media sites, can help us get to the heart of who we are, what we need, and what we desire in life.

Read:  Don't Let Facebook Make You Miserable


  1. What specific data in this piece surprise you the most?
  2. Do you think it’s common for people to enhance or distort their lives on social media?
  3. Do you see harm in doing so?
  4. What does Stephens-Davidowitz mean when he writes “Don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides”?

Have you ever been drenched in an Ice Bucket Challenge?

Have you ever been drenched in an Ice Bucket Challenge?  Or maybe you helped with the drenching.  This kind of camera-friendly charity event seems to be perfect for social media.  But does it really help? In this article New Yorker contributor James Surowiecki takes a look at the risks and benefits of public activism of this kind.

Read: What Happened to the Ice Bucket Challenge?



  1. If you have watched or taken part in an Ice Bucket Challenge, what was the experience like for you?  Beyond the fun, how did you benefit?
  2. What kinds of events and efforts were used at your school to raise awareness about social issues?  Were there any “extreme rituals”?  How effective were they?
  3. How might you use social media to support an important social issue or problem?

From Cool to Unreal: Instagram and Anxiety, Depression

In this article Marc Bain summarizes recent research about the negative impact of social media on girls and young women.  He notes that Instagram is the most harmful in terms of making girls and women feel anxious and depressed, mostly because users may be comparing themselves to images that have been manipulated into “perfection.” Not all of the news is bad, though, and Bain offers some suggestions for making social media less stressful.

Read: Instagram Is the Most Harmful Social Network for Your Mental Health


  1. What kinds of manipulated images have you seen on Instagram?
  2. Do you agree with the research results that Instagram and other social media can be harmful to self-esteem?
  3. What benefits does Bain see in social media?
  4. What solutions does he offer to reduce psychological harm for users?

Why "Radical Body Love” is Thriving on Instagram

“By relying on images, Instagram opens the door to change in a way that transcends language and age,” said Marne Levine, Instagram’s chief operating officer. “It is through that visual nature that people are able to be what might not have been obvious to them before.”

This article discusses the #body positive movement in social media and offers an optimistic response to the self-esteem issues that some experts are finding among social media users.

  Read: Why "Radical Body Love" is Thriving on Instagram


  1. What new perspectives about body image does this article provide?
  2. Why do you think Instagram and Snapchat are widely used?
  3. In what ways are body image issues important in a women’s college community?

Can We Trust The News?

There has been a lot of talk recently about fake news, prompting us to question what to believe about the world around us.  Professional journalists are committed to reporting objective facts, but in our complex world, is there any such thing as a single truth?  In this New York Times  article, Sapna Maheshwari helps us understand how fake news is made and distributed.  Although this piece highlights a report about the Trump campaign, the topic of fake news goes beyond partisan politics. 

Read:  How Fake News Goes Viral: A Case Study

  1. Tracing the path of a fake news story, Maheshwari writes that “speed often takes precedence over truth…”  Do you agree that it is important to have breaking news, even if the facts are still in question?
  2. What are some of the mistaken assumptions Tucker makes as he posts about the buses in Austin, Texas?
  3. What surprises you about the way this “news” spread to various outlets?
  4. Do you think you have received fake news in your social media accounts?
  5. What are the consequences of fake news for our culture and our democracy?


Let's Not Get Fooled Again

After reading about fake news and some of the people who post it on social media, you may be wondering if any news can be trusted.  Rest assured:  there are news sources and other groups out there working to restore a sense of integrity to reporting.  Here is a piece that outlines a few simple steps that you can try to weed out the worst of the fake news world. 

Read: Don't Get Fooled Again by Bogus Links, Bots, and Pure Bunk


  1.  Sullivan offers seven tips for evaluating fake news.  Try several of them and report your results. 
  2. What was the most “suspicious” headline you discovered?  What made you doubt its credibility?
  3. What kinds of comments lead you to click away from a news story?  Explain your choices.
  4. Find a story on a site you usually visit.  Then look for a similar story on another site.  Note the differences in content and perspective. 

"You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time..." --Abraham Lincoln

This is a news story about two young men who have taken advantage of the Internet to sell sensational and often inaccurate news accounts of current events.  The two “journalists” featured here come right from the pages of Huckleberry Finn (Remember the king and the duke?) or the playbook of circus founder P.T. Barnum, who once said “There’s a [fool] born every minute.”  Take a look at the wild life of these men as they profit from our hunger for news that confirms our beliefs.

Read:  For 'The New Yellow Journalists,' It's About Clicks and Bucks


  1. What surprises you most about this story?
  2. What aspects of the Internet and American culture make it possible for these men to succeed with their work as “digital opportunists”?
  3. Do you agree with Wade that “’You have to trick people into reading the news”? Why or why not?
  4. What would you ask Goldman and Wade if you had a chance?  What would you tell them?


Technology Hasn't Changed Love -- Here's Why

Helen Fisher is a biological anthropologist and senior research fellow at The Kinsey Institute and member of the Center for Human Evolutionary Studies at Rutgers University.  She is also the chief scientific advisor to the dating site and has written six books and numerous articles on the evolution of human love. 

In this TED Talk, Fisher offers a scientific explanation for the human desire to find and commit to a mate. She argues that technology may be producing too much choice about potential partners and leading us to be overly cautious about committed relationships. 

Watch: "Technology Hasn’t Changed Love:  Here’s Why”  (TED Talk)


1.   In her TED talk Dr. Fisher locates the human drive for love deeply in our body chemistry.  How does this perspective align with (or differ from) your understanding of romantic love?

2.   How would you compare your generation’s approach to dating with your parents’ experience?  (This is a great chance for a nice conversation.)

3.   In what ways do you think technology helps us find compatible dating partners?

4.   What problems have you observed with apps like Tinder and social media in general when it comes to meeting people and developing relationships?


StrongPoints and Social Media

Every day new research and writings on social media are published.  Here are some additional articles and videos; we have aligned them with the four pillars of StrongPoints: Academic, Experiential, Financial and Career. Check back between now and August; we will add new topics as we find them.  Most of the links are live and free on the Internet; they may change or redirect without notice. 

Trending Now

Social media is receiving a lot of attention in the news.  In addition to the StrongPoints links, here are some of the latest articles and videos on the topic.   We will post new articles as they are published.

Important Dates and Activities

Monday, August 28th, 10:00am  Small group discussions

Wednesday, September 6th, 7:00 p.m. SRP Speaker Michael Vaughn How Social Media Changes Us

Connected Service Project:  Cell Phone/Electronics Drive to benefit InterAct

Past SRP selections

Students, Faculty and Staff have been participating in this common reading program for eighteen years.