Chancellor’s Medallist takes novel look at social media evils

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Chancellor’s Medallist takes novel look at social media evils


Published on 15 April 2015

A USC doctoral student whose thesis examined links between narcissism, social networking and violence will be awarded the USC Chancellor’s Medal tomorrow (Thursday 16 April).

Lynette Maguire, of Buderim, will receive the top honour for graduating students along with her Doctor of Creative Arts at USC’s Communication, Creative Industries and Social Sciences Graduation Ceremony that starts at noon.

It will be the third USC degree completed by the well-known marriage celebrant. In 10 years, she has gained a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Psychology and Creative Writing, an Honours degree majoring in English literature and the new DCA.

“My doctoral research question asked, ‘Is social networking enabling an increase of narcissism and violence in teens?’ The short answer is ‘yes’.

“I had over 1,000 responses to my initial web-based survey which asked people what they were reading when they were 15, and I found a growing acceptance of violence in all forms of teen literature over an 80-year period. I used psychology and sociology theories to underpin the research.

“Then I looked at possible causes, hence the linkages to narcissism and social media. Narcissists think, ‘Because I’m better than you, you don’t matter as much as me, and it doesn’t matter if I treat you badly.’ And with the anonymity of computer systems, bullying can happen any time. It’s quite insidious.”

After researching the topic, she wrote the Young Adult novella ‘Lepidoptera’, the scientific name for the butterfly – a metaphor throughout the text.

Set on the Sunshine Coast, the novella portrays the trinity of social networking, narcissism and violence, and its effects on teenagers. It touches on cyberbullying, trolling, society’s desensitisation to violence, and narcissism in teens.

Dr Maguire said her next step would be to disseminate the research in schools to help teens deal with a global culture that fostered narcissism.

The Chancellor’s Medal is awarded in recognition of high-level academic performance and distinguished contribution to the USC community and/or the local region.

Dr Maguire was heavily involved in the University through membership of the USC Council and the Student Guild. She was president of the USC chapter of the Golden Key International Honour Society and currently tutors in communication.

She also runs My Wedding Wish, a local project which gifts full white weddings to couples battling terminal illnesses.

“I’ve had a beautiful experience with USC. There’s great collegiality on campus and some of the people, like Associate Professor (of Creative Writing) Gary Crew and his team, have had a huge impact on my life.”

Dr Maguire also won an Australian Society of Authors mentorship while studying at USC.

— Julie Schomberg


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