Appropriate on Facebook

I think it is fairly typical for individuals to check Facebook and see what is going on in everyone’s lives multiple times a day, at least for me it is. Facebook is a great way to connect with friends and keep people updated about the goings on in your life. However, in terms of the rhetorical situation Facebook is a nightmare. It is nearly impossible to know who your exact audience is on Facebook. Even though your personal settings may be on lockdown, there is never a guarantee that wondering eyes will not find you.  Therefore it is essentially to be extreme critical of what you are posting or uploading to your profile. By posting extremely personal information or scandalous pictures, you risk offending your audience. If the offended is a school administrator or a future employer, you just failed the rhetorical situation.

caroline cogan

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9 comments so far

  1. akdaniels919 on

    I agree with this. Too often when people post on someone’s wall, they see that person as their audience, forgetting that their audience is anyone who can see their facebook — and sometimes more people than you think can see your facebook! It is an interesting medium because people do use it to stay in contact with friends and family, but the problem is everyone can view those interactions, and often times what we would say to a certain audience is not what we would say to everybody. Particularly with statuses, people sometimes seem to forget that what might seem like a funny inside joke to a few people is confusing, not appropriate for the public to see, and not professional when people other than those who get the joke view it. It think you made a good point that you can never be sure of who your exact audience is — it makes facebook both a fun and dangerous medium in many ways. I think as long as people keep in mind that whatever is posted is there for the public to see, it is a great and useful way to communicate, but you can get into a bad situation quickly if you do not consider exactly who might be reading your profile.

    -Amanda Daniels

  2. dupublicaddress on

    I think that Facebook’s original purpose was to allow friends to connect with each other when they are unable to connect in real life. It should be a way for people to keep in touch with those who are far away, and a way to keep people updated on things that you are doing. I think Facebook profiles have become, in a way, online avatars of ourselves. And with this “profile personality,” we can be just as careful with our profiles as we are with what we wear and what we say or do in person. However, somehow we feel more safe and secure putting things online that we would never say or do in person. For example, likealittle.com is an anonymous forum where people can post a “crush”, however, it has become a forum for anyone to post a sexual remark or vulgar thought without the fear of someone knowing it’s you. The internet has given us all masks, and we feel brave saying things that we wouldn’t normally say in person.
    I think that ultimately, if you wouldn’t do it in person, you shouldn’t do it online. Eventually all things come back to you somehow. Address the internet as you would address a room full of people you did not know and wanted to make a good impression on.

    ~Molly Coyne

  3. sarahtheobald on

    So far on this blog, I’ve seen references to facebook, blogging, and twitter as forms of public address. Another one that I think fits in this category is vlogging (video blogging). In our generation, we have so many different types of medium to address a public. This one I find the most interesting since it is so personal. People are not just reading what you say or looking through your fb profile, but are being taken through a day in the life of yours truly.
    As for appropriateness of this form of medium, I think posting the videos are fine. It’s so personal that I believe fewer people would want to be representing themselves in a bad light. The inappropriateness comes from the comments others leave. I can’t count the number of times people have commented inappropriately on a youtube vlog. It’s the anonymity of the audience which creates the problem here.
    ~ Sarah Theobald

  4. flynnquisition on

    I agree. Facebook is really meant to be a networking tool, and a way to get in touch with old classmates. But Facebook’s popularity has caused some of the ways it’s being used to get way out of hand. This is especially dangerous because, as you said, you can never be 100% sure who is and is not seeing whatever you’re posting, and it’s hard to keep this in mind when you have hundreds or thousands of “friends” to keep track of. Also, prospective employers or schools may be using Facebook to try to get an idea of who you are, and if you aren’t careful, you may be jeopardizing your job without even knowing it.

  5. lewingj on

    Part of the problem with the issue caroline brings up is that there is no way to control your audience on facebook. In almost every great piece of rhetoric in the past, speeches were made on specific occasions or to specific groups. This makes it much easier for the speaker to lock into the pathos, ethos and logos that will click with that particular group and make his or her words have more effect. I think you would find it difficult to find a politician (or almost anyone, for that matter) who would agree to make a speech without knowledge of who they were talking to. Unfortunately with facebook, you are unaware who the audience might be to your pictures and such, so you are unaware of the potential effects they might have.

    Jake Lewing

  6. ehoward112 on

    Facebook interactions can be regulated. When you write on someones wall you know that any and everyone can see it. If you really want something to be personal you can send them a private message. You can send private messages to groups of people. You can also remove things from your page, if you don’t want the whole world to know that you broke up with someone remove the status completely instead of changing it to single. There are ways to control your interactions on facebook. I think the bigger thing is the exhibitionist culture that is prevalent on facebook as well as twitter. Some people want to be seen and heard by everyone so they post comments and picture that they know people will comment on. And those are the people who have their lives all over sites like these.

  7. bfell on

    I also think that Facebook can be viewed as a form of public address in the sense that companies as well as aid groups open up a page on Facebook and use to gain public appeal, sell their product, and also get their name out to other companies or groups. The ways that companies and groups use Facebook to advertise and gain support are similar to those depicts on television commercials and billboards, thus Facebook should similarly be considered a means of addressing the public.

    Brendan Fell

  8. jswanson89 on

    I totally agree. Everyone always says that you need to be careful about what you put on the internet because you never know who will find it. I know facebook is a way that we are supposed to be able to express ourselves, but I would argue that we are expressing ourselves in a more permanent way. Let’s say for example that you are really angry about a test you just failed and you write something along the lines of, “That *$^@&*^#&* professor, I can’t believe we were tested on that info!” That comment is there forever, for everyone to see. You might delete it from your wall, but it will still pop up on news feeds for other people. What’s more is that you probably don’t feel that way anymore, but in the heat of the moment, you did, and now everyone can see how you really feel. Not good if you don’t want that info out there for a long time.

    -Jason Swanson

  9. dupublicaddress on

    A rule of thumb I ran across that I think is great is “if you wouldn’t shout it in a crowded room, don’t post it as your status on facebook”. Not only does e-oversharing put people in tricky situations professionally-I mean, who’s gonna higher the kid with a picture of him smoking a bong on his facebook-but facebook oversharing is really awkward and uncomfortable. Check out the following New York Times article, I feel like it sums up a lot of the issue very nicely: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/18/fashion/18facebook.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=GOwer&st=cse

    -Lauren Waters


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