Prof Herbert Maseremule, acting Executive Dean Faculty of Humanities; Dr Bandile Masuku, Chair of the Tshwane University of Technology Council: the newly inaugurated Prof Bongazana Dondolo and TUT’s Prof Stanley Mukhola, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Teaching, Learning and Technology.
Prof Dondolo, who was appointed at the University in 2015, is also the first member of her family ever to obtain a doctoral degree.
Her opening line, “How many of you are on Facebook?” had a sea of hands raising. With an infectious laugh she invited the audience, “I hope you are all fervently posting right now!”
Prof Dondolo, who has conducted extensive research into social media, crisis communication as well as psychology, in her lecture demonstrated how these areas of specialisation could help to decipher and predict the behaviour of different generations’ social media use.
According to Prof Dondolo, technologies such as social media and cellphones, are changing the way we connect, communicate and often the way we act as well. One such technology is Facebook, which has become ubiquitous and somehow indispensable in everyday life communication. In the wake of Facebook’s popularity, it became clear that some organisations and the public tend to abandon legacy communication channels in favour of this relatively new, two-way channel.
In addition to highlighting the benefits of using social media, especially Facebook, she also cautioned against the unintended consequences of using these platforms, such as stimulating addictive behaviour. “We live in a time where people have an unprecedented appetite for information, communication and technology. Did you know that Gen Y spends more than eight hours a day on social media, even though they actually believe they only spend an hour?”
Prof Dondolo concluded that social media platforms are wonderful communication tools, but they should be used responsibly. She explained that the many hours spent on social media, as well as the characteristics of Gen Y, including their constant need to be recognised and a tendency towards excessive social comparison, could open the door to the darker side of their personalities. This could include triggering status anxiety, depression, and even narcissism and other forms of anti-social behaviour.
In her vote of thanks, Prof Dondolo, a single mother of two daughters and a four-year old toddler, hailed her father and hero, Don, for his unwavering support to achieve her goals. Bringing tears to the audience’s eyes, she gave special praise to her late mother, Faith, for her inspiration and support, sharing her regret that her mom couldn’t savour the day with them.
She also thanked her daughters for their love, support and patience during her studies. “And Ndima, my brother, my champion, my supporter and often my babysitter: What would I do without you?”