Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Writing contest winner sees socially awkward aspect of modern networking conventions

OU-C Dean Martin Tuck (left) presents  Jennifer Ellis with a gift certificate for her winning entry
 in the Writing Center winter quarter contest. The deadline for the spring contest is looming.
In her entertaining and insightful piece, OU-C Winter Quarter Writing Center contest winner Jennifer Ellis examines social media’s frequent and sometimes pervasive presence in our everyday lives.

Ellis, 41, a non-traditional student, takes a unique approach to the growing popularity of social networks in her piece “Social Networks: An Old Broad’s Opinion.”

“I really think social media is a generational phenomenon,” said Ellis, who writes in her paper, “I managed to get through most of my adult life not expressing my every thought and action to mass amounts of people. I never had to check in on Foursquare, and my teenage antics never got over a thousand hits on YouTube.”

The theme of the winter quarter writing contest was “Facebook, iPhones, and the Xbox: Technology in Flux,” and Ellis seized the moment with pen in hand. For her efforts, she was awarded a $75 gift card.

Her paper began as a class assignment. “It is based on my personal observations of the behavioral patterns of people using social networks,” Ellis said. “I have always been an observer and have been fascinated by human behavior.”

Ellis believes social media offers new possibilities to those who are socially inept.

“Social networking has opened a whole new world for bored adults. With friend lists and followers from every school they went to, suddenly the socially awkward are on top of the world … They have finally arrived.”

In her paper, Ellis categorizes social network users and takes a witty look at one group in particular.

“Then there is the group I like to call the ‘pay attention to me’ group. They post about how their washer just broke, the dog is sick, their grandma is unwell, and how their lives (are overall) miserable … When the first catastrophe has ended, another will always occur. Without fail, their lives will always be hell.”

Despite the cynicism and wry humor exhibited in her paper, Ellis acknowledges, “I realize there is a good side to social media. It allows children who may be shy or withdrawn to connect to people on their terms.”

Ellis, a nurse for 16 years with LPN licensure, returned to college to pursue her associate degree in nursing, so she can become a registered nurse (RN) and pursue a bachelor degree in nursing. She grew up in Chillicothe and now resides in Circleville.

“Jennifer possesses that rare thing we abstractly call ‘voice.’ When it is there, it’s unmistakable,” commented one of the contest judges, according to Writing Center Director and faculty member Deb Nickles.

Submissions for the spring quarter writing contest are being accepted through 4 p.m. on May 18 in the Stevenson Center Learning Center. The spring contest, “Inspired: Writing to Awaken,” focuses on what inspires, energizes or awakens the soul. The contest is open to all genres of writing. For more information contact the Writing Center at (740) 774-7779 or email Nickles at

1 comment:

  1. Awesome! Very proud of you Jen!


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