LESSON THIRTY HERE!
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In today’s lesson, entitled The Power of Social Media, you will be listening to a passage about how Facebook and other social-media networking sites got their start and about how dramatically “being connected” has changed the way we communicate today. Listen carefully to the passage and then answer the questions that follow. It’s always a good idea to take notes as you listen, but remember: don’t let your note-taking distract you from your listening.
The Power of Social Media
Listen and Learn
Lesson Thirty PASSAGE ONLY track:
A theory called Six Degrees of Separation posits that everyone on the planet is connected to everyone else through a chain of five links. It was this idea that gave the world’s first web-based social-media site, Six Degrees.com, its name. That was in 1997, and almost overnight, online blogging sites such as Open Diary and Live Journal sprang up. Then, in the early 2000s, LinkedIn and MySpace came along, followed in 2005 by YouTube, a revolutionary way to communicate and share videos. By the time Twitter and Facebook became available to the general public in 2006, more than one billion people worldwide had access to the Internet. The great global pursuit to “connect” was under way.
In the past, whenever a family member, classmate, or friend moved away, it was natural to drift apart over time—unless, of course, you were diligent letter-writers (or could afford lots of long-distance telephone calls). Things are very different now. Social-media sites like Facebook and Twitter allow us to stay in constant touch with those we love, whether they’re across town or across the world. But there’s more to it than that. Social networking allows us to feel part of a larger community. It can make us feel useful and give meaning to our lives. It has proven again and again that if we want to achieve a specific objective or purpose, there is power in numbers. We’ve all heard stories about how thousands of like-minded people, connected only through social media, have pulled together to help others who have suffered devastating loss. Facebook-based actions like “The Ice-Bucket Challenge” and “Loom to the Moon” have raised huge sums of money for charities, disaster relief, and other causes. Also, many important social, political, and environmental movements have gained momentum thanks to word-of-mouth social networking.
But we’ve also all heard about the downsides of social-networking. We know that communicating via social media encourages people to open up about their personal lives. We know that online, people (ourselves included!) reveal things about themselves that they would never reveal face to face. We tend to forget that whatever we post on the Net becomes public domain that anyone—and that means total strangers—can view. Posting a photo of you and your friends having fun at a party, for example, may seem harmless at the time. But what happens when a prospective employer or university enrollment official is doing a background check on you and comes across the photo on Facebook? He or she is apt to see it in a much less flattering light, putting your future in jeopardy.
Even more ominously, when we share intimate details of our lives online, it’s not just our friends and family members who see them; the information gets into the hands of online predators and “trolls.” Children and teenagers are especially vulnerable to “cyber-bullying.” This is the practice whereby perpetrators, hiding behind online anonymity, torment people or humiliate them in front of their peers. These attacks can leave deep emotional scars, and, in some notorious cases, have led to senseless tragedy.
As more people around the world join the Internet, social media will exert a more powerful—and let’s hope a more positive—influence on our lives. The old “six-degrees” idea that we are all connected may even prove true, and for that, we should be thankful. But while it’s great to have a growing list of social-media “friends,” we should also keep another old idea in mind: that if you have two or three really good friends who will always “be there” for you, you should consider yourself lucky.
LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS
Listen to Listen and Learn Lesson Thirty LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS track:
Today’s listening comprehension questions will be TRUE-FALSE and based on FACTUAL CONTENT and LOGICAL INFERENCE. Listen to each question carefully and mark your answer. Feel free to pause the recording if you need a moment or two to think about the question.
1. Six Degrees of Separation, or the idea that everyone on Earth is connected to everyone else through a chain of five links, is a scientifically proven fact.
2. The world’s first web-based social-media site was launched in 1997.
3. Online blogging sites such as Open Diary and Live Journal did not become available online until the early 2000s.
4. In the days before Facebook and Twitter, only diligent letter-writers were able to stay connected to friends and family who had moved far away.
5. The “Ice Bucket Challenge” was a Twitter-based phenomenon that raised huge sums of money for a political candidate.
6. Communicating via social media encourages people to open up about their personal lives.
7. Fortunately, things you post on Facebook or other social-media sites are only available for your friends and close family members to view.
8. Children and teenagers are especially vulnerable to cyber-bullying.
9. Online predators and trolls torment and humiliate people in front of their peers openly so that everyone knows who is doing the bullying.
10. The author of the passage believes that in today’s fast-paced world, it’s better to have a growing list of online “friends” than to have just two or three really good friends.
LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS and ANSWERS HERE!
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KA WORDCAST: Listen and Learn! Lesson THIRTY
KEY VOCABULARY WORDS
Be sure to listen to the Key Vocabulary bonus track. This will help you improve your understanding of the passage itself and give your vocabulary a big boost.
A theory called Six Degrees of Separation POSITS that everyone on the planet is connected to everyone else through a chain of five links.
POSIT is a formal verb that is most often used in writing to mean to present something as true so that it can be used as the basis for an argument. Synonyms include postulate, put forward, hypothesize, and assert.
Archeologists and geologists POSIT that over the past billions of years, the earth has undergone untold cataclysmic events.
Astronomers POSIT that black holes have “event horizons,” or an edge from which nothing, not even light, can escape.
Two sociolinguists have POSITED that young women are responsible for most of the changes that take place in the way English is spoken and used.
In the past, whenever a family member, classmate, or friend moved away, it was natural to drift apart over time—unless, of course, you were DILIGENT letter-writers (or could afford lots of long-distance telephone calls).
DILIGENT is an adjective used to describe a person who puts a lot of care or effort into his/her endeavors. Industrious, conscientious, meticulous, thorough, zealous, dedicated, committed, and hard-working are the best equivalents.
Melissa is a DILIGENT student who always gets the best grades in her class by going above and beyond what is required of her.
The actor plays the role of a DILIGENT teacher who helps a young girl from a poor neighborhood achieve her dream of going to the National Spelling Bee finals.
Generally speaking, Japanese people are DILIGENT workers.
If you were as DILIGENT about going to the gym as Claudia, you would be fit and trim, too.
DILIGENTLY is the adverb form of DILIGENT.
Unlike the rest of their classmates, Ryan and Charlie studied DILIGENTLY for many months to prepare for their SAT exams.
Everyone in the group is working DILIGENTLY to make sure that our Greek history presentation is the best one in the class.
Also, many important social, political, and environmental movements have gained MOMENTUM thanks to word-of-mouth social networking.
If a particular movement gains MOMENTUM, as in the sentence above, more and more people support it so that it becomes more successful and influential. In contrast, when something loses MOMENTUM, it starts losing support. Look at these examples.
If our fundraising campaign doesn’t gain MOMENTUM soon, we won’t have enough money to build the new outdoor classroom.
The group’s first album was a #1 hit, but whether they can keep their MOMENTUM going will depend on their second and third albums.
More generally, however, MOMENTUM refers to any quality or ability to keep increasing or decreasing, as in:
A stationary object such as a table sitting in a room has no MOMENTUM.
The stalled truck started rolling backwards down the hill, gaining MOMENTUM while its driver helplessly tried to apply the brakes.
Thankfully, Hurricane Carl lost MOMENTUM as it headed towards the Florida coastline.
Trevor kicked the ball as hard as he could, but it still didn’t have the MOMENTUM to reach the goalposts.
MOMENTUM is also often used to talk about sports, by the way.
A 5-2 win over the Raiders kept the Eagles’ undefeated MOMENTUM going for another week.
The MOMENTUM of the game shifted towards the Dodgers when Gonzales hit a three-run home run in the top of the fifth inning.
But what happens when a PROSPECTIVE employer or university enrollment official is doing a background check on you and comes across the photo on Facebook?
Here, PROSPECTIVE is an adjective that means likely, possible, or expected. Synonyms include future, intended, pending, and potential.
The school conducted an online proofreading test for PROSPECTIVE candidates for the position of creative-writing instructor.
As is the case with all PROSPECTIVE adopters, Alan and Faye were very nervous the first time they met the small child they hoped to adopt.
PROSPECTIVE comes from the noun PROSPECT, which has several meanings and uses. For one, it means something expected or a possibility.
Unfortunately, this year there is little PROSPECT that any of our students will go to the state debate championships.
Martin loved his job, and the PROSPECT of being forced to retire at age 65 filled him with sadness and even dread.
A PROSPECT can also be a potential client or customer.
My dad came home from work last night really upset because he had lost one of his most promising sales PROSPECTS.
In sports, a PROSPECT is a new player who has the potential to become a star.
Many sportswriters say Harrison is one of the brightest young football PROSPECTS to come along in many years.
PROSPECT as a noun also means view or scene, as in:
The PROSPECT from the top of the Sky Tree is well worth the price of admission, especially on a clear, sunny day.
Children and teenagers are especially VULNERABLE to “cyber-bullying.”
VULNERABLE is an adjective that means exposed to harm or danger. A VULNERABLE person, as in the sentence above, is in need of special protection, support, or care because he or she is exposed to abuse or neglect. People are also VULNERABLE because of age or physical or mental disability. Synonyms include susceptible to, an easy target for, in danger of, and at risk.
Women are more likely to feel VULNERABLE walking alone at night than men.
Doctors warned that older people are especially VULNERABLE to this particular strain of stomach flu.
Unless you are in an upper-management position, every worker is VULNERABLE if the company decides to start laying employees off.
As citizens, we have the responsibility to protect the most VULNERABLE members of our society.
Because of the budget cuts, disability benefits for some of the country’s most VULNERABLE citizens are being cut.
People often feel VULNERABLE, that is, easily offended or hurt, when they are sad, disappointed, or ashamed about something bad that has happened to them.
After her parents’ divorce, Patsy was feeling VULNERABLE, so her teachers and classmates were very careful about what they said around her.
VULNERABLE can also be used to talk about things or places, as in these sentences.
Keep in mind that any digital information that is stored online is VULNERABLE to hackers.
Houses built near the coast are especially VULNERABLE to hurricanes and crashing waves.
This is the practice whereby perpetrators, hiding behind online anonymity, TORMENT people or humiliate them in front of their peers.
In the sentence above, TORMENT is a verb that means to make another person suffer by treating him or her in a cruel way. Taunt, victimize, harass, and bully are some good equivalents.
The three children who were caught TORMENTING another child during playtime were severely disciplined by their teacher.
In the magazine interview, the popular young actress revealed that when she was growing up, she was often TORMENTED by her peers because of her racial background.
Psychological studies have revealed that as children, many serial killers TORMENTED animals.
TORMENT can be used to talk about negative emotions, too. Torture and afflict are two good substitutes.
After failing his medical-school entrance exam for the third time, Jiro was TORMENTED by feelings of failure and shame.
The late author’s widow revealed that he had been TORMENTED by deep depression in the months before he took his own life.
TORMENT is also often used more colloquially and casually to mean to tease, annoy, or pester another person, as in:
“Stop TORMENTING and teasing your sister!” Dad yelled at Joshua from the bottom of the stairs.
The kids TORMENTED their parents to take them to the newly opened amusement park.
As a noun, TORMENT refers to great suffering, as in:
Steven and his wife went through years of TORMENT after their five-year-old son suddenly disappeared.
Refugees from Africa and the Middle East who have suffered TORMENT in their home countries are flooding into Europe.