I chose my topic to be on the dangers of social media. I would like it to include aspects such as the addictive tendencies, potential dangers of meeting people you don’t know, potential luring and kidnapping, catfishing, and the psychological dangers such as seeing the glamorized exaggerated lifestyles that can cause others to feel depressed and less worthy so to speak. The expectation for the essay is below. Your first full, graded essay for this course will be the writing of an argumentative essay with research components. Before I present the specific options for this assignment, let me present the following guidelines and advice for the paper, much of which you’ve already encountered in other areas in the class, both informal instruction and in the essays, we’ve read. Argumentative essays differ from narrative, expository, or analytical essays fundamentally in that you’re writing to take a stand, to persuade your audience to accept a particular position, to convince your audience of a particular argument.
Although in other essay genres (which you likely encountered in ENG 101 and elsewhere) you’re also making a point, the emphasis in argumentative essays is to make and prove an argument with convincing evidence and sound, logical reasoning. Content An argument essentially contains a central claim (your thesis) backed up by several supporting claims, which are further supported by concrete evidence–examples, other people’s opinions, etc. This argumentative essay not only will involve sound, logical reasoning but may also include some of the other techniques you’ve learned in other courses or schools, including narration, description, and certain analysis. One thing to keep in mind is that since you’re making an argument on a controversial issue, there’s always another side. It’s vitally important that you address the other side if you want to present a fair and convincing argument. Organization While there are always multiple ways to organize any kind of essay, the one that’s something of a textbook approach goes this way: introduction, claim, evidence, support, and conclusion. You’ll see more specificity if you search The Owl at Purdue or other websites, but it’s important to resist developing a rubric for writing an essay that’s a straightjacket.
Give yourself enough room to move about as you draft your essay, but make sure you have a clear sense of its organization when it reaches its final form. Ethos, Pathos, and Logos A good argumentative essay requires a somewhat balanced use of ethos, pathos, and logos. Without ethos, your essay will not carry credibility; without pathos, it won’t have effective emotional effect; and without logos, your essay will lack the logic and reason that’s a necessary component of every argument. As you look at the essays and videos that provide many of the sources for this assignment, consider how their writers and speakers shape their arguments with these approaches. Review these definitions posted under Unit 2. Sources Using other people’s arguments, especially those from reputable sources, to support your own argument is often an effective and necessary means of argumentation. Therefore, for this essay, you’re expected to include at least four sources, three from our set of essays and videos, or two from our set of essays and videos along with a relevant case study from your own experience. The fourth source must come from research you conduct online or in the library.
The Topic As you know by now, the theme for this assignment is social media, particularly Facebook. And consider your initial responses to this topic, as it informs your research and your research question or perspective. For instance, do you think Facebook is no longer vital compared to, say, Twitter”, Snapchat, or Instagram (which, of course, Facebook owns), or for “older people”? If so, then part of your objective as you begin to consider this assignment is whether the data supports that perspective. And that’s just a first step. This is a research writing course, and you use research to question, challenge, and verify or overturn and alter your perspectives and beliefs. That’s what research and research writing does at its best. There are two “areas” of concern here with regard to FB and other social media sites. One is its capacity to share data (for good or for ill), compromise privacy, and to be used for activism or to foment conflict here and in other parts of the world. The other area is more personal, with regard to how Facebook effects people’s psychological health in terms of the frequency its use, its capacity to isolate or connect individuals, and its addictive qualities.
An important question with regard to the latter “area” is what might we be doing with our time if social media didn’t exist? Here are two approaches for your paper: Option 1: The Case Study Option One way of focusing a short research paper is by selecting the main source among those you reference. This source then becomes a kind of touchstone for your other research materials—you may refer to this main source more than any other. An effective way to do this is through the use of a case study. You have several options for the use of case study in this assignment: the article “Can Mark Zuckerberg Save Facebook Before It Breaks Democracy?”, by Evan Osnos in The New Yorker, the essay by John Herrman titled “Are You There, User? It’s Me, Facebook,” the essay by Ryan Holmes from Forbes magazine titled “Is COVID 10 Social Meda’s Leveling Up Moment,” or your own experience. Each of these options presents the opportunity to tell a story as a case study for how Facebook shapes identity and personal perspective. The articles also show how Facebook “demands” or commands users’ attention, as well as how it establishes and exploits connections through the use of “reminders” and the “Newsfeed” component. It also connects people with like concerns, which can be positive if you share an interest in, say, rock-climbing, but can be negative when you share an interest in a radical ideology.
And in the time of Covid 19, it can be a way of getting valuable information about the disease, dispelling misinformation about the disease, and connecting people who otherwise might never see or talk to each other. In any case, with this option we use a case study—a sketch of one or two individual persons’ use of social media—as a means of focusing written discussion. In anticipation of the use of this case study, you will write an introduction and make a claim about the nature of social media use that you will then use your case study to develop. Many different claims could be written for this option. You could write a claim about the benefits of social media use in connecting people during a pandemic, or connecting people who have experience with a particular illness or write a claim about how social media use undermines production at work, or you could write a claim about how Facebook envy makes people more lonely, or how it can be used by those serving in the military to keep in touch with family. You could write about its addictive tendencies.
Whatever that claim may be, you then use your case study, supplemented by texts such as Brailovskala’s or Rothschild’s or the documentary “The Facebook Dilemma”, to support and develop your claim. Do not neglect this bold-faced requirement. Again, you use the case study as the centrepiece of your essay, but quotations from Osnos, Herrman, or the documentary along with the source your research will help you verify and substantiate the claim you make in your essay. Option 2: The Analytical Option For this option, you will use one of the essays in this unit as the centrepiece for your essay, rather than a case study. For instance, if you choose Herrman’s essay, you’ll likely focus your discussion on how social media such as Facebook manipulates users to stay focused on its use. If you use Osnos’s essay or “The Facebook Dilemma”, you’ll likely focus on how Facebook can be used to shape election results or to foment conflict both in our country and others. Or you might use the article by Jane Hu, titled “The Second Act of Social-Media Activism,” to show how social media can become an instrument, for good or for ill, for social media activism. But when you use this option, you’ll have fewer examples of individual people’s experience, and more data and research and information. For this essay, you will begin with a brief overview of the essay of your choice, and then establish a claim that emerges from that overview.
Again, you could make many different kinds of claims. You could argue that the perceived dangers of Facebook articulated in these articles and video are offset by its specific benefits. You could argue that social media is where most young people get their news, and they are thus more susceptible to perceiving “fake news” posted on Facebook as real. You could look at one of the specific conflicts cited in our sources—the Arab Spring in the Frontline documentary, or the violence in Myanmar in the New Yorker article, or the protests over the George Floyd killing referenced in the Hu article—and argue that Facebook is used to to organize effective protests or, in some cases, to incite violence. You could argue that FB and social media is undermining democracy, as is claimed by at least two of our sources.
Or you could argue, instead, as Marc Zuckerberg claims, that it connects people, and it is the quintessential engine for promoting democracy—a perspective to an extent echoed in the article by Hu. Having introduced the essay of your choice, and having established a claim, you will then move on to your supporting evidence to verify that claim. You should feel free to use, say, the Osnos or Hu essays or one of the stories told in the film, as brief examples of how Facebook has shaped an event across the globe. You can feel free to generate similar examples from your research on the internet, but I would recommend, in the case of this analytical approach, that you work with data and information that you can find from a couple of articles in magazines, newspapers, and online.
Data is always persuasive, and two of our scholarly journals offer a lot of it. (Remember, even when an article is about Facebook addiction, the data can still be used to show how powerful FB can be because so many people use it.) For instance, one possible approach for this assignment would be to look at Evan Osnos’s claim about FB’s capacity to use data to shape election results by researching how that data was gathered and how many FB users were exposed to it. Find an article or two confirms or refutes the information Osnos offers.
For either choice, make good decisions about whether you intend to write in the first person or third person. In an analytical essay, you should likely not resort to using “I.” But in an essay that works with personal case studies, using “I” would likely enhance your writing. The essay will be evaluated on these elements: The introduction of your topic. Your narrowing of the scope of your essay. (Remember, your essay is relatively short.) Your thesis. Your use and quotation of sources (four, as indicated above). Your use of the MLA. Your use of editing skills to eliminate sentence, punctuation, and spelling errors. Word Count for Assignment 1: 1250+. (It’s okay to exceed the word count, but not okay to fall short of it.). For more information on the Dangers of Social Media check this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media
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