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Social media changes the lives of Borderland residents

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POSTED: Monday, February 11, 2013 - 11:54pm

UPDATED: Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 3:05pm

Once upon a time, several decades ago, there lived a people without Twitter, Instagram, and yes, even Facebook.

For kids today, that's almost hard to believe, because fast forward 30 years, and this is what you see: a college so shaped by the language of social media, that college students have to be taught how to write basic, grammatically correct sentences.

"It drives me nuts, it really does," says Priscilla Duran.

Priscilla Duran teaches a technical writing class at Southwest University. She says she's seen students writing get progressively worse since she started teaching.

"It's correction after correction and I don't feel like I'm teaching, I feel like an editor," she says.

However, social media has also brought several positive changes to society. Couple facebook with cell phones, and the ability to record video, and you'll find numerous examples where social media has literally changed the world.

Richard Pineda is a communications professor at UTEP. He points to uprisings in countries like Libya and Egypt, where young people rebelled against corrupt governments, armed not with guns and bombs, but with the internet and cell phones.

"They don't necessarily have a script. They don't necessarily have the latest technology, but they're on the scene and the immediacy of that is what I think has big repercussions," Pineda said.

For the first time in history, world changing events were recorded minute by minute, exposing the brutality of several regimes.

"You magnify the impact of that a thousand fold if you're able to present simultaneous images of things going on," he said.

Social media has also brought thousands of people together. In many cases, complete strangers.

Kate Livingston is a backyard chicken farmer and teacher from Chaparral. Last year she drove more than 2,000 miles to California just to attend the wedding of two people she had met online, people she had never met before, staying in the homes of facebook friends along the way.

"I met them and said, ok i'm at a gas station in Tucson, anybody close? And yeah, we're a half a mile a way , we'll be there in a minute," Livingston said.

Kate was late for the wedding, but the couple even waited for her before tying the knot.

And then there's Priscilla Duran, that teacher at Southwest University, who can't stand how social media has destroyed her students' writing.

She too has a positive story about how social media changed her life.

"It was the trip of my dreams," she said.

When Priscilla was a grad student at UTEP, complete strangers pitched in on Facebook to send her to london to take a class on shakespeare. It's a trip she couldn't afford on her own. She raised three thousand dollars in less than one month.

"For someone to say I don't know you but I really hope your dream comes true here's $50, that was just amazing," she explains.

So in the end, the verdict is still out on social media, but from a chicken farmer in Chaparral to young people fighting for better lives in the Middle East, social media is changing the world, and love it or hate it, it's likely here to stay.

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