Sources of Disagreement

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An Analysis of the Sources of Disagreement between Alice Mathias and Dana L. Fleming
Regardless of whether one participates or not, there is no denying the significant impact that online social networking sites, such us MySpace and Facebook, are having on America’s younger generations. These trends are duly noted in Alice Mathias’s New York Times feature, “The Fakebook Generation” and Dana Fleming’s New England Journal of Higher Education article, “Youthful Indescretions: Should Colleges Protect Social Network Users from Themselves and Others?” Though both writers agree on the significance of these types of sites, their views differ greatly as to the impact the sites are having on America’s youth.

Two important factors as to why the writers’ views differ so greatly are their background and the genre in which they are expressing their opinions. Mathias is a young woman who is about to graduate college, blogging about her experiences and opinions on Facebook as a student. Her blog comes across as a carefree commentary on one aspect of college life. At this stage in her life Mathias views “…Facebook as online community theater,” (438) an online site that gives young people the opportunity to masquerade and manipulate their profiles, allowing their Facebook friends to see as much or as little of their lives they choose. Fleming, on the other hand, is a well educated, practicing attorney, whose life and occupational experiences have, undoubtedly, compelled her write an article informing educators about the dark side of online social networking sites, such as Facebook. Her article comes across also as a commentary, but one with a serious undertone and message.

Both writers agree that the appeal of these sites seems to be primarily with the under 30 generation. Mathias believes this to be true because “My generation has long been bizarrely comfortable with being looked at…” (439) and in her evaluation, the situations people are allowing themselves to be seen...
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