Panorama: Keeping in Touch Toolkit

April 13, 2010. Retrieved online: April 13, 2010, by Justin Bannister ’03 Aggie Panorama, Fall 2009

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Here’s a challenge: Try to find a student at New Mexico State University who doesn’t use a social networking Web site. Good luck. Today it seems like everyone has jumped onboard and created profiles on sites like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. While each site is different, they each have one underlying purpose – helping others keep in touch.

“I just think it’s a way to stay connected to other people,” says Aubrey Island, a junior at NMSU majoring in computer science. Like most students, he has multiple accounts – one each on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.

“I signed up to check it out. Anyone you ask, they’re going to be on the network their friends are on,” he says.

According to a survey done earlier this year by Nielsen Online, social networks and blogs are now the fourth most common online activity, which makes them more popular than personal e-mail. The survey also showed that member communities (such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter) are visited by 67 percent of the global online population.

“It’s all right, I guess. It’s a good way to keep in touch,” says Jesus Mendez, an NMSU sophomore studying language. He started using MySpace when he enlisted in the military because it was one of the easiest ways to stay in contact with his friends and family while he transferred from base to base.

It only takes a few moments to sign up at any social networking site. After registering with an e-mail address and password, users are then free to upload photos and provide background information, including their interests and geographic location. From there, it’s off to find friends.

Even President Barack Obama and his former rival Sen. John McCain used social networking sites to keep in touch with their millions of followers during the presidential campaign. Throughout the summer of 2008, campaign aides posted the candidates’ stances on issues and updates on rallies across the country. Obama even announced his selection of running mate Joe Biden first through another popular form of communication that didn’t exist 10 years ago – a text message.

Today, the short, quickly typed messages can be sent through just about any cell phone and often use cryptic abbreviations, including “r” used in place of “are” and “u” used for “you.”

“I text obsessively,” says Michael Abeyta, a 19-year-old student in the NMSU College of Business. “My mom tells me I have more than 1,200 text messages a month.”

Abeyta also opened a MySpace account four years ago and recently opened one on Twitter.

“I think it’s important, keeping in touch,” he says. “I like to post crazy blogs and then getting crazy replies to what I write.”

“My friends introduced me to Facebook, but then I realized that more of my friends were using MySpace,” says Justine Crespin, an NMSU graduate student in communication studies. “It’s a good source for communicating with friends abroad.”

The most distant friend she communicates with is a former classmate now living in the Czech Republic. She also stays in touch with relatives through social networks.

Steve Mulkey, an NMSU student triple majoring in biology, chemistry and education, says he shies away from social networking sites, mostly to keep details of his life off the Internet. That said, he does acknowledge their appeal.

“My dad and my sister do that more than I do. It’s hard to find people who don’t,” he says.

Sure. A perfectly rational person might say that human beings survived quite nicely without blogging, tweeting, texting or posting photos online. But then again, aren’t these just new tools for communicating? And isn’t that something people have always tried to improve upon – from grunting over food in a cave to the invention of the telegraph?

An online community for NMSU alumni

New Mexico State University’s Alumni Association encourages all Aggies to “Connect and Reconnect” on the Alumni Association online community where they not only can build a social network with fellow alums, but also keep up with what’s happening at NMSU.

The online community is a central resource for NMSU Aggies to help each other build a vital and relevant network. The site, http://alum.nmsu.edu, was launched in the summer of 2008, and allows members to access NMSU and local alumni chapter news, search for fellow Aggies, pay or renew alumni membership, join Alumni Association chapters and clubs, register for alumni events and keep up with Aggie News.

Aggie alums can log on to the online community and create their own profile, where they can choose what content they’d like to keep private or share with fellow alums, such as contact information. Members also can upload a personal photo for their profile.

“The Web site is a great tool for searching for alums and staying in contact. Sometimes we receive phone calls or e-mails from around the world of alums who are trying to track down and get in contact with former classmates,” says Dolores Cardoza, with the Alumni Association.

“One of the biggest goals for the online community is to get people logged on and have them keep their contact information updated,” Cardoza says. “It is the easiest way for alums to stay connected with the university.”

For more information on the Alumni Association online community and how to log on, contact the alumni office at (866) 678-2586 or (575) 646-3616 or send an e-mail to alumni@nmsu.edu.

By Bryant Million

NMSU Social Networking

Numerous sites are maintained by various NMSU departments across MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. Here are a few sites alumni might be interested in:

Read the original Panorama article.


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