Faculty Research & Creative Activity

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2018


In an alarmist age when tirades about society's eroding ethics areabundant, the media is often a scapegoat for those who fear that cultural valuesare disintegrating. For decades, from reality television's debauchery to celebrityprogramming's narcissism to fictional drama's excessive violence, television hasbeen blamed for contributing to society's so-called moral decline. Recently, concernhas expanded from content to include twenty-first century television viewingpractices. Studies argue that binge watching television leads to antisocial dispositions,depression, and immorality. Likewise, social media is credited forcreating a generation of narcissists and prompting increased levels of depression,jealousy, and apathy. Television viewing today often entails double screening - whereinviewers are not only engaging with the content on television but are alsocommenting on that content through social media. Forty-three percent of tabletand smart phone owners report using their devices while watching television everyday and 95 percent of the conversation occurring on social media concerning televisionis taking place on Twitter, making it an ideal site to examine what viewersare doing with their double screens. Reading dual-media use data alongsidealarmist rhetoric about the negative impact technology has on cultural ethics, onemight conclude that this tag team of Twitter and television is bound to destroyhumanity as we know it. Or not. Unsurprisingly, online television fandom studiesindicate that audience engagernent---even with programs packed full of scandalousstorylines-is much more complicated than fear-mongering irnplies.