instagram-logo“Can you guys help me pick a filter? I don’t know if I should go with XX Pro or Valencia. I wanna look tan. What should my caption be? I want it to be clever…How about “Livin’ with my ladies, hash tag LIVE”. I only got 10 likes in the last 5 minutes. Do you think I should take it down? Let me take another selfie”. As the use of Instagram has grown within the past two years, it is safe to say that we, as users, have thought at least one of these sentences or something similar while uploading a picture. According to recent statistics, “Instagram is the tenth-largest application by reach. Moreover, it recently passed the 200 million user mark”. As a social media platform taking off with no intention of stopping, we are beginning to see how the personal and entrepreneurial use of Instagram is changing communication efforts today.


Think back to a celebratory event where phones didn’t have cameras and developing pictures happened at the local drug store. At that time we didn’t take pictures at every social outing, selfies were not common, and online photo sharing was nonexistent. As social media has evolved, the use of photo sharing and editing applications have changed the way that we view our “friends”, brands, and their lifestyles and products. According to Stella Ting-Toomey’s Face Negotiation Theory, “People from collectivistic cultures with an interdependent self-image are concerned with other-face or mutual face, so they adopt a conflict style of avoiding and integrating.” Through the use of Instagram, users are allowed to choose what photos they believe put them in the best light and can feature those photos on their profiles. Very rarely do you see users posting pictures with no make-up on, without a filter, or in a setting that doesn’t make their personal image look more appealing. Not only does this apply to individualized users, but is integrating into corporations, nonprofit organizations, and various other firm Instagram accounts that aim to reach a large amount of people. In putting their best “face” towards the public eye, the transparency of people and brands alike can be questioned through this platform.


As twenty first century communication moves from the written and spoken word to digital based visual communication, we will continue to see the communication effects of brands and individuals through their Instagram profiles. The way in which we communicate through these pictures is changing how we represent ourselves in the creation and cultivation of relationships. With the search for authenticity at an all-time high, showing ones “true self” is becoming more of an illusion than a reality on today’s Instagram feed. So what filter do you see your world through?



-Angelica DiPaolo, Morganne McIntyre, Anderson McNaull, Madeline O’Connor, Rachel White


People have always been searching for ways to improve social media so they can not only keep in touch with their peers but also share and talk about similar ideas on a specific topic. One of the more recent and now most popular social media mediums has successfully done this. People have wanted a simple way to connect their thoughts on a given topic with people around the world and Twitter has done just that with the introduction of the hashtag in 2006. The hashtag was originally introduced on Twitter as a way people could categorize their tweet and link it to any tweet that has the same hashtag. It started as a way for people to see other tweets with the same hashtag even if they are not following the person but it has now become a simple way for everyone to categorize their own thoughts and beliefs. The hashtag has created a revolutionary way to get details on breaking news or whatever happens to be trending that day.

Hashtags haven’t only changed the way we communicate by quickly categorizing each idea, but it has changed everything about businesses, politics, breaking news, sports and celebrities. If someone were to get bad service or a faulty product from a business, they aren’t going to write and mail in their complaint. Instead, they are likely to tweet a picture of whatever is wrong and create a hashtag that people can then add to. One of the biggest fears for business owners is a negative hashtag going viral and ultimately trending regionally if not internationally. A simple hashtag can ruin a business’s image far more than a letter of complaint could. A letter of complaint is hardly ever made public and the letter is usually only seen by the business itself but a hashtag will direct you to a list of similar complaints with just one click. This has given consumers immense power in the relationship and as well as increased communication between brands and their audience. Another advantage that hashtags offer companies is a cost-effective enhancement to traditional forms of advertising as seen during this year’s World Cup. By adding a hashtag to the end of a television commercial, a company can create a conversation between a worldwide audience.

Politically, hashtags have given candidates the ability to reach out and communicate to everyday people and respond to their questions or concerns. A hashtag can be used as a way  identify with which political party you support. It also allows for people to who wouldn’t normally be interested in politics to see different viewpoints about candidates to help make their decision when it comes to voting.

Hashtags allow easy and convenient two-way communication on a global scale. It allows us to connect with each other as well as businesses, celebrities, news and politics. It helps us to see the larger view of what is happening and what people are talking about. Using hashtags brings conversation to the forefront and helps us to find other people with similar interests or dislikes. It is important to businesses because using hashtags can encourage more conversation about your brand or industry as well as expand your range of current or potential customers. This will help in the way consumers and producers communicate and many believe hashtags will change the face of businesses forever.

–Brandon Hawkins, Bobby Huckabee, Tony Mangili, Danielle Salas, Savanna Mitchell

Designing Communication

Without a doubt, cell phones are the dominating tool of communication in modern day America. And with our phones starting to rule over our communication, it is important that they are effective tools. So we spend our free time talking about the newest phones and what changes we can expect. Phones have become such a prominent part of our lives that we no longer need them to fit into our pocket, because they’ll spend the majority of their time in our hand. Thus, our culture is witnessing a pattern of ever-growing smartphones, from 2003’s thin and efficient Motorola RAZR, to the newest iPhone 6 plus. Respectively, the phones range from a 2.2 inch screen to a vast 5.5 inches on Apple’s latest technology.

Why the size gap? In BloombergBusinessweek’s technology section, Brad Stone writes that the change in pace is the result of a change in function. Essentially, because communication is no longer a cell phone’s only function, the design of the phone must match the purpose. Don Norman, director of the Design Lab at the University of California at San Diego, says “Small phones were elegant. Remember, they were a reaction against the big old clunky bricks we started with. But then phones evolved. We don’t talk on them any longer. We use these devices for maps, restaurant reviews, and for texting our friends and listening to music. So the screen becomes very important, and small screens are miserable to use.”

Cell Phones

The change in phone size over the years creates a difficult scenario for designers who have to find an intricate balance between physical aesthetics and overall functionality. Sleek and small is physically appealing, but will not work for smartphones that serve as many purposes as the ones we have today. Designers and technology experts have created an incredible crossroads of aesthetics and functionality in the currently accepted thin, rectangular smartphones. This is what we call phenomenal communication design.

“Communication design happens when there is an intervention into some ongoing activity through the invention of techniques, devices, and procedures that aim to redesign interactivity and thus shape the possibilities for communication.” (Aakhus, 2007) First of all, cellular communication is a form of communication design by this definition simply because it shapes possibility for communication. But what we are really talking about is what phone developers such as Samsung and Apple are communicating to their audience through the design of their phones. Without even consciously realizing it, we as a culture accept bigger phones as better because current technology is telling us this is the case, when only 10 years ago the opposite was true. The evolution of smartphones and the growing sizes are messages to the world, letting us know that phones are no longer expected to be used solely for communication. They are cameras, maps, televisions, research tools, music, games, news, knowledge, and status. That being said, what shapes and sizes of phones do you think we might see in the future? Will the pattern of growing continue, or have phones reached their size limit?


Aakhus, M. (2007). Communication as design. Communication Monographs, 74(1) ,112-117.

By: Kelli Hall, Stephanie Jordan, Morgan McCleaf, Shawn Rause, and Danielle Walters

The Spiral of Bullying

As communication methods evolve and change, there are many positive and negative effects on the way our society communicates. Modern communication has given us the ability to reach one another easily, at the touch of a button. On the downside, modern communication now almost exclusively uses online technology, which can foster destructive or harmful behaviors. An example of this is cyber bullying. Bullying has always been an issue, but now that it has taken the form of online harassment, the torment never stops for the bullied.

Cyber bullying, especially online, forces the bullied to partake in behavior that further isolates them. The Spiral of Silence Theory says that people tend to remain silent when they fear that their views do not lie with the majority opinion. The theory states that people remain silent for two main reasons: the fear that they will be rejected and the fear that they will be isolated. The longer people remain silent, the more they spiral into a state of total silence, in which they will never voice their opinion.


Cyber bullying can take many shapes and forms in our modern technological era. According to stopbullying.gov, cyber bullying is bullying that takes place on an electronic device. Examples of cyber bullying include, malicious text messages or emails, gossip sent on social media devices, posting humiliating pictures or fake profiles. Those who are bullied are more likely to turn to dangerous behaviors to cope with the feeling of being rejected and teased. In 2013, The CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey found that 14.8 % of students nationwide have been bullied online within the last year.


Now that bullying has become an online phenomenon, the bullies can remain anonymous and they can harass their victims everyday at any hour. This forces the bullied into a perpetual state of silence because it is increasingly hard for them to fight back. Victims may now have to endure face-to-face bullying as well as cyber bullying. So now even when they are finally alone, they still have to withstand the pressures of bullies. This results in the bullied becoming further isolated because they feel that they have nowhere to turn.

The Spiral of Silence Theory helps explain why students feel that they cannot speak up when they are being bullied. This theory applied to bullying in the past, but it is even more relevant now that communication has evolved to predominantly online methods. The bullied will continue to fall deeper into the spiral as they feel more and more isolated by their peers. Although the statistics have changed in favor of the bullied, we still have a way to go to stop it altogether and end the silence.

- Hannah Rodgers

Evolution and Obsoletism

This week the blog is going to be focused on the evolution of communication over time.  Not only is technology always advancing, companies are forced to compete with one another with similar products.  The new commercial of Surface Pro 3-Head to Head displays how almost outdated the new Apple laptop is compared to the Surface Pro 3.  Now laptops don’t only function as a computer. This shows a computer that is also a tablet and has a touch screen component. This evolution has changed rapidly and this allows for more communication, more often. We believe this is shown through the theory of Agenda Setting.  Dr. Max McCombs and Dr. Donald Shaw came up with this theory in 1968 at Chapel Hill.  They found that the media has the ability to change what we as consumers believe is important.

This commercial shows that we no longer can be satisfied with a computer just being a computer. We need more.  This concept is also described through the idea of obsoletism.  Obsoletism is that we as a culture no longer wait for things to wear out.  We no longer wait for things to break and no longer be effective.  We just desire things that are more attractive.

The Surface Pro 3 is actually becoming more prominent than we think. Although many of us would be unwilling to transfer from our Macs to a Surface Pro, the Surface Pro 3 is becoming much more prevalent in the communication business world. According to Belikoff (2014), organizations such as BMW, Coca-Cola, and Louis Vuitton, have used the new Surface Pro 3 to help give out presentations within their organizations, while also allowing employees to use the Surface to share knowledge and transfer ideas. Being that we are a society that is constantly on the run, businesses are now using this technology as a mobile and easily usable device that has enabled employees to become much more efficient in the work place environment.

Do you follow the principle of obsoletism and constantly update your technology or do you like to stick with what you know?

- Margaret Cafasso, Kierstin Geary, Connor Gold, Olivia Sadler, and Hannah Zeskind

Get Ready to Rock!

During the month of October, we see lots of pink. Yogurt lids, coffee cups, football jerseys, and ribbon-shaped everything adorn the media and shopping centers alike. However, the rise of “going pink” isn’t just a national trend. In October 2007, UNCW and the Communication Studies Society brought these efforts closer to home. Rock for a Cure is a breast cancer benefit that raises awareness and funding for the New Hanover Regional Medical Center Foundation’s Pink Ribbon Project. Since its commencement, Rock for a Cure has created a culture within UNCW and the Communication Studies discipline that has allowed for the month of October to be full of pride and promise for a healthier tomorrow.

rock for a cure

Rock for a Cure has established itself in the Communication Studies Department as more than an event; it’s part of the culture. As Communication Studies majors, we know Rock for a Cure is an exciting event happening every October that students and faculty alike can look forward to attending. According to UNCW Communication Professor and Rock for a Cure coordinator Jennifer Chin, “Rock symbolizes strength. This strength is seen not only through these women battling breast cancer, but through our community. This event, and the Pink Ribbon Project are strengthening our community ties. Many times, you hear about organizations that fund research and you never hear what happens with your dollar amount, or how it specifically benefits someone. That’s what makes Rock so special, you know that your dollar amount is going to your neighbor, it’s staying local and going to someone in need. That’s what’s truly amazing about the event; we are all combining our efforts and coming together to be strong for our community, and letting these women know that we support them”.

rock for a cure 2

In Geertz and Pacanowsky’s, Cultural Approach to Organizations Theory, the theorists state, “an organization doesn’t have a culture, it is a culture – a unique system of shared meaning”. As this year draws upon its eighth anniversary, we can reflect on Rock for a Cure’s wonderful contributions in the money rasied and donated for a fighting cause, the unforgettable moments it has provided us with in bringing together friends, faculty, students, and breast cancer survivors, as well as for the creation of great memories that will last a lifetime. In sharing the significance of breast cancer awareness with the department and the Wilmington community, the Communication Studies Society allows Rock for a Cure to permeate into the discipline as an indispensible, annual event.


With various ways to celebrate “going pink” in the month of October, it is always a heartwarming feeling to be able to commemorate breast cancer awareness in our very own community. So come one, come all to the Reel Café in Downtown Wilmington tonight for an evening filled with live entertainment, raffle prizes, food, and beverages all in light of a great cause. We can’t wait to see you there!

-Angelica DiPaolo, Morganne McIntyre, Anderson McNaull, Madeline O’Connor, Rachel White

Drill for a Cure?

October is sure to bring three things: pumpkins, falling leaves and the explosion of pink. We all know October as Breast Cancer Awareness month and with that comes an eruption of pink from a variety of organizations and companies. Many big name industries take extreme measures to jump on the “pink” wagon. The Susan G. Komen foundation, which raises money year round for cancer research and treatment, has recently teamed up with one of the most unusual sponsors, Baker Hughes, a large Fracking company based out of Houston Texas. For those of you that do not know, Fracking is the process of drilling into the ground and injecting fluid deep in the Earth’s crust to fracture rocks below and release natural gas. Baker Hughes has agreed to a year long agreement with the Susan G. Komen foundation in which they have donated $100,000 as well as painted 1,000 of their drill heads pink and will have them shipped in pink boxes to all of their Fracking sites. Each of these pink boxes will also have various brochures and pamphlets with breast cancer information.

The irony is all of this is that research has recently found that a chemical often found in Fracking sites goes by the name of Benzene and is directly related to higher risks of developing breast cancer. The term deemed to companies that use the “Passionately Pink” color to gain recognition is called “pinkwashing.” Even though Baker Hughes appears to be helping the cause, the idea of painting pieces of equipment that will never be admired and actually reverse any cancer efforts, seems more like an attempt to protect their image than anything else.pinkdrill10914

The term used for companies attempting to “pinkwash” or borrow other causes programs for their own promotion is called Awareness Advertising, which is defined as “advertising that seeks to increase the name recognition of one business in the mind of consumers across a target market area.” Fracking has been a hot-button issue recently, and it is possible that their recent “pinkwashing” attempt is in hopes of erasing some of the bad press that comes with a company like Baker Hughes. Breast cancer awareness is something that many companies and organizations have attached themselves to because it is an easy platform to advance their companies on.

When October is over and breaking ground with these pink drills has happened, they will be quickly forgotten.This was a smart move made by Baker Hughes because of the publicity it received but is it ethical for companies to jump on important causes like cancer research to promote themselves?  If  Fracking is bad and studies show that the chemicals used might cause breast cancer, should the Susan G. Komen foundation accept these kinds of sponsorship despite the money involved?

-Brandon Hawkins, Bobby Huckabee, Tony Mangili, Danielle Salas, Savanna Mitchell