Monday, April 4, 2011

Service, Leadership, Scholarship and Sisterhood... Total Sorority Move

Recently, two new phrases have cropped up in our popular culture, with websites to go along with them. These phrases are being tweeted about, posted on facebook and even used in everyday language. TFM or TSM for short, these phrases stand for Total Frat/Sorority Move.

This new trend has become more than just a little disheartening for the Greek community. Is this stereotype really how others on campus see our organizations? Worse yet, is this how we portray ourselves?

As members of Greek organizations we have a collective purpose and values. These organizations were created because we hold ourselves to higher standards. Although, simply by reading these TSM posts you would never guess what Greek life is truly meant to be. The tile of this post includes the four pillars of Greek Life, what we as sorority women and fraternity men are supposed to stand for; service, leadership, scholarship and brotherhood/sisterhood.

At the beginning of every chapter meeting we read our ritual and our purpose, we know the values our founders have set forth for our organizations. We read the Panhellenic Creed at the beginning of every council meeting. We KNOW what our organizations stand for and these values should be deeply ingrained in our memories. So why aren't we living those values in our everyday lives? Why are we okay with these "TSM" posts? And why do even think they are funny?

The discussion of this issue is beautifully put in a recent blog post by AFLV (Association of Fraternal Leadership and Values). I don't think I could say it any better myself, so I'm reposting it here. To see the orginal post visit

Smack dab in the middle of conference season, the power of social media in our world is more evident than ever. As an association, we used Twitter, Facebook, and FourSquare to interact with our attendees at #CFLNBGLC11 and will do the same at #WFLNCGLC11 in a few short weeks. Our peer associations like @TheNACA and other Higher Ed Associations like @AFA1976, @NASPAtweets , @ACUItweets, and @ACPA are all using social media to engage participants. It is neat to see the connections being made, and the additional learning that can take place on the conference backchannel.

As with most tools, in the right hands they can be used for good - and in the wrong, for bad. Amongst all this excitement surrounding the potential of social media in our little corner of the fraternal world, there has been something that has been bothering me for a while. I saw a tweet re-tweeted by several people this weekend that brought my frustrations back to the surface.

"@TFM: Charlie Sheen parties pretty hard for a GDI, but I don't think he would have survived the weekend I just had. TFM. "

I don't personally follow TFM, because in my mind, following is a silent endorsement, or approval of content. And that is content I'd personally rather not be connected with, thank you very much. But apparently a lot of people I follow, follow TFM. And over 100 people re-tweeted that tweet. Sad. If that is your definition of the fraternity/sorority experience, I'd invite you to spend some time with your ritual, and tell me where your organization has taught you to value "partying hard". And if Charlie Sheen is an example of "winning" then I'd rather be a loser. If that is the experience you'd like to continue to have in college, please go ahead and take off your badge and turn it in.

I did some quick research to see how many people are following some fraternity/sorority related Twitter accounts. As of 9:00am MT this morning, here are the numbers:

@TFM: 74,050 followers
@TSM: 16, 955 followers
@AFLV: 1,687 followers
@FraternalValues: 221 followers
@fraternalthghts: 875 followers
@fraternityinfo: 680 followers
@nicfraternity: 1,369 followers
@npcwomen: 2,800 followers
@NPHC1930: 235 followers
@AFA1976: 337 followers
@FraternalRitual: 373 followers
@GreekCompass: 239 followers

#thataintwinning, friends, that's worse than I thought. Obviously the followers of TFM are not limited to affiliated members. But consider for a moment that there are hundreds of thousands of living affiliated people. Even if only 5% utilize twitter, our followership is dismal. Clearly, the tweeters of the fraternal world need to be doing more to provide valuable, engaging content for followers (we here at AFLV included). And just like in the "real world", we need to be aware that like it or not, to an outsider, our interfraternal brothers and sisters are representing us to the world. Challenge others when their content is not in line with our shared values. We need to take ownership and responsibility.

We would love to hear your thoughts and comments. How do you represent your values through social media? How does your organization? How are we holding our members accountable for representing our founding values in their tweets? Is this a conversation you've even had? What could we be doing differently? 

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