Social media’s past and present

Allison Smith

Before Facebook, MySpace, Twitter – even before e-mail, people communicated by phone. No, not by cell phones, but regular old landlines. In fact, telephones 50 years ago weren’t even private.

John Wunderle, a Stow resident and retired employee of the Ohio Bell Telephone Company (now AT&T), used to install telephone lines called party lines. He said party lines might have 10 people connected to the same phone line and each residence would have a different ring.

“Each person had a different ring,” Wunderle said. “In other words, a long and a short, a long and two shorts, a long and three shorts, a long and four shorts, and then a short and two longs, three longs, four longs, five longs, that would take care of 10 different people. You had to listen for your own ring.”

Wunderle said people weren’t supposed to listen in, but anyone could pick it up at any time and listen.

He said a more sophisticated version was when operators came in and controlled where the calls went. After that there were dials in which each residence had a set of numbers, but even then they had four party lines, two party lines and private lines.

“There was a time when the telephone operator knew everything and everybody. She could tell by your voice who you were, and she knew everything that was going on in town,” Wunderle said.

Social Media

E-mail is a popular way for professors and students to communicate at Kent State. Many professors stress the importance of checking your e-mail every day so as not to miss something important, but some professors are taking online communication to a whole other level.

Matthew Shank, a professor of English, asks his students to be his Facebook friend as soon as classes begin.

“I’ll say that some of my favorite things about Facebook is that I can use it to let students get to know me a little better as a person and not just their professor,” Shank said. “And hopefully as a result, they will feel more comfortable in my classes.”

Elaine Ardo, accounting and finance major and incoming freshman, has already discovered the possibilities with Facebook. At the beginning of the summer, she created a Facebook group for fellow incoming freshmen.

She said with this group she has organized Cedar Point trips in order for freshmen to meet people before school starts.

“I feel like it helps freshmen because you meet all other freshmen on there,” Ardo said. “And not only do you meet the freshmen, you meet upperclassmen who can help you out and they can talk to you and give you some advice. You can make bonds with other people that way by just talking to them.”

Ardo’s group has useful information for freshmen such as important dates, what dorms have microfridges and information about summer reading. There are also discussion boards for students to get more detailed information on a specific subject. It is also a great way for students to meet and discover similar interests.

Facebook isn’t the only way for students to know what’s going on around campus; Twitter is another way students can find things out.

Iris Harvey, vice president for university relations, said she likes going on Twitter.

“I can’t say that I get it intuitively because I’m of the age group – we do e-mail,” Harvey said. “It’s not as easy as using e-mail, but I like the notion of saying to somebody ‘Can you believe it, it’s a great day? I’m sitting out here having a Starbucks before going home from work,’ or something like that.”

Harvey said she was looking at President Lester Lefton’s Twitter account and noticed that a new employee had already started following Lefton’s account.

“I thought, ‘This is great, this is how people connect, even before she meets him,'” Harvey said.

Social media is all about connection, and for freshmen, it is getting easier and easier to connect before they even come to school. But it’s when the connection lasts that really counts.

Shank said his favorite part about Facebook is keeping in touch with former students.

“Before Facebook, I was always a little sad when a semester ended because I figured that would probably be the last I saw or heard from most of my students unless they took another class with me,” Shank said. “Now we can stay in touch for much longer, and that’s great.

People to follow on Twitter at Kent State:

Ksunews – Kent State University Media

kent360- Breaking news at Kent State


BSRkent- Black Squirrel Radio

KSCProgramming- Kent Student Center Programming

KentStateisss- International Student Scholar Services

Srwc- Student Recreation and Wellness Center

Presidentlefton- President Lester Lefton

Contact new reporter Allison Smith at [email protected].