Paradox and Promise: MySpace, Facebook, and the Sociopolitics of Social Networking in the Writing Classroom

Gina Maranto, Matt Barton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

84 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article situates current theoretical, rhetorical, and ethical analyses of the net's most prominent social networking sites, MySpace and Facebook. It also discusses the implications of bringing these web sites into the classroom, comparing how students, teachers, and administrators use (and abuse) these spaces. Both MySpace and Facebook privilege a discourse based on the construction and representation of an identity. Rather than assert unique identities, these sites ask users to label and classify themselves according to many criteria, including age, religion, political leanings, hobbies, and interests. Users can then list others who share these labels or interests and request to "add them as friends." MySpace and Facebook emphasize categories and aspects of popular culture that teenagers find important. They remediate the traditions of high school for the Web and by doing so greatly extend their reach. Many writing instructors wonder how these sites can be used to teach writing. How users represent themselves online could help students understand postmodern logics of identity construction and political engagement. However, there are dangers for teachers who create their own profiles and add their students as "friends." Like chat and email, these forums undercut concepts of more conventional rhetorical spaces. They both contribute to and undermine student and faculty ethos, although students may not appreciate that their profiles might have a lasting negative impact. Despite the public nature of most profiles, users often denounce these "invasions" as blatant violations of their privacy. Perhaps teachers and scholars should work to protect the integrity of these spaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-47
Number of pages12
JournalComputers and Composition
Volume27
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2010

Keywords

  • Facebook
  • Myspace
  • Web 2.0
  • ethics
  • profiles
  • social networking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language

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