Felicia Song, Westmont professor of sociology, examines our reliance on social media and its industrializing tendencies in a lecture Thursday, Oct. 11, at 5:30 p.m. at the University Club, 1332 Santa Barbara Street. The Westmont Downtown lecture, “The Industrialization of You and Me: How Social Media Makes Relationship a Business,” is free and open to the public. This lecture is sponsored by the Westmont Foundation. No tickets are required; the limited seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, please call (805) 565-6051.
Increasingly, we rely on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other platforms to communicate with our families, friends and colleagues. “While these social media can enhance our interactions, they also exploit the fears and insecurities that surround relationality,” Song says. “To better understand both the helpful and the shadow sides of our digitally mediated experiences, we must come to grips with the commercial forces behind our screens. By exploring how the current digital system encourages a chronic sense of time poverty, the fear of missing out, and the compulsion to check our feeds, we can begin to see that these struggles are more than personal weaknesses: they fuel the economic success of the social media industry.”
Her most recent research, supported by a grant from the Louisville Institute, explores how theological traditions of historical Christianity can provide resources for negotiating our digitally saturated world. She seeks to help people imagine sustainable digital practices that are rooted in an incarnational theology of human flourishing. During a sabbatical last year, she conducted a pilot study featuring interviews with parents about how they monitor their children’s engagement with digital devices.
Song, winner of the 2017 Outstanding Teacher Award in Social Sciences at Westmont, graduated from Yale with a bachelor’s degree in history before earning a master’s degree in communication studies from Northwestern University and a doctorate from the University of Virginia. She taught at Louisiana State University before arriving at Westmont in 2013. Her first book, “Virtual Communities: Bowling Alone, Online Together,” explores Internet communities and democracy.