i) Have a look at the essay question below. What would be your answer to this question?
ii) Read the sample essay and the comments provided for key features of the essay .Do you think this is a good essay? Could it be improved in any way?
Question: Has social networking improved the quality of relationships in society? Write an essay of between 1800-2000 words, clearly stating your view on the issue.
Social networking has had a major influence on society in the 21st century, enabling citizens to engage with each other in radically new and different ways. According to Brown (2011), we can fall in love online, create friendships, attend parties in other countries – all without leaving the comfort (and anonymity) of our armchair. And while the Generation Ys and Xs in our society are leading the adoption of the emerging social networking websites, it has been noted that the older generations are now catching up, with the strongest recent growth in usage among the 55 and 65 age group (Burbary 2010). So what does this apparent ‘revolution’ mean for society? How is social networking changing the way people relate to each other, and can we say that it has led to an improvement in relationships? This essay will argue that in the area social and political awareness, social networking has had a strongly positive effect. In other areas of society however, there is cause for some concern. Comment [T1]: This last sentence of the introduction presents the students’ ARGUMENT. We can think of the ARGUMENT as the students particular ANSWER to the question being posed. Your lecturers will be appreciative of any essay that has a clearly stated argument. Comment [T2]: This is an example of a SUB-HEADING. Subheadings help to show the structure of your essay. However, they should be used fairly sparingly in essay writing.
Background to social networking The idea of a ‘social network’ is not new. A social network in fact refers to any structure made up of individuals (or organizations) tied to one another though some type of interdependency, such as friendship, common interest, financial exchange and so on (Oxford Dictionary of Sociology 2011). What is radically new however, is web-based social networking, which has allowed these networked structures to develop in much more extensive and elaborated ways. Beginning with specialised online communities in the 1990s such as Geocities and Tripod.com, online social networking became a mass phenomenon in the 2000s with the development of individual user profile functions, and enhanced capacity to share activities, and interests within individual networks. Nowadays, the main social 1
networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter enjoy hugesuccess, with Facebook – arguably the most successful of these – boasting more than 750 million users worldwide.
The appeal of social networking seems to vary. Some surveys point to more pragmatic social motives such as “staying in touch with friends, organising social activities, or flirting with someone” (Lenhart & Madden 2007, p. 23). Other studies however, allude to deeper psychological needs such as the need for a sense of belonging, or the need to project one’s identity (Ridings & Gefen 2004). Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook, is sure that the chief appeal comes from social networking’s ability to empower people by giving them a ‘voice’. He is also sure that this capacity has meant that his technological creation has been overwhelmingly a force for good. Comment [T3]: This is an example of a CITATION. Note that in this case some of the actual words from the original text have been used, indicated with “quotation marks”. When you use a DIRECT QUOTE, you also need to include the pages number.
When you give everyone a voice and give people power, the system usually ends up in a really good place. So, what we view our role as, is giving people that power (cited in Ali 2011) Comment [T4]: This is an example of a BLOCK...