“With Friends Like These…” by Tom Hodgkinson
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The piece “With Friends Like These…” was written by Tom Hodgkinson, a British writer for The Guardian, in 2008. Considering this was the year in which Facebook surfaced onto public attention, the author, like many other journalists, evaluated the site personally and did background research to further his claim. The author’s intended audience ranges from an individual who is seeking advice regarding joining Facebook or anyone who is looking for guidance as to whether or not to remain on this social networking website. The main purpose of the author is to convince the reader that he/she needs to reject Facebook. He does so by emphasizing the fact that it hinders people from truly connecting and that it is a social experiment put forth by a group of venture capitalists that has its own agenda to profit (Hodgkinson 326, 327). Hodgkinson maintains a critical, authoritative, and somewhat pessimistic tone throughout the article.
The author critical tone is displayed in his thorough evaluation of every aspect of Facebook ranging from the disconnection and competition created amongst the users (326) and the purely capitalistic motivation of Peter Thiel, one of the men behind the site (328-334).His examination of these two subject is truthful, but pessimistic and biased because the author does not acknowledge any of the benefits of social networking. The writer’s authority is displayed in the structure of this article. He begins the article with a statement that immediately communicates to the reader what his stance is (326). In addition, Hodgkinson’s credibility is established not only because of his previous works, but also because of his in-depth analysis of Peter Thiel and strong factual support for each claim (328-334). He proves that Thiel’s main motive is profiting by referring to the litany of companies which, as of 2007, began advertising on the “free” Facebook (332). The author is making a clear appeal to logos since his supporting evidence is fact-based.
In this article, the author’s thesis is that Facebook is harmful to society because it prevents the public from truly connecting with each other and it is a social experiment designed to profit venture capitalist and replace the real world (326, 330). He comes to this conclusion after presenting his audience with a list of reasons why digital connection does not translate into real life connection. For example, he points out that many use Facebook because it appeals to self-importance and allows one to fabricate a representation of one’s identity (326). The author is able to further his thesis and purpose by structuring the article as a Toulmin argument. This piece qualifies as a Toulmin argument because he starts with his claim, which he follows up with a warrant and a qualifier. In the first and second paragraph, the warrant is that all humans crave a connection and the qualifier is that Facebook leaves its users feeling a false sense of connection (326).
Hodgkinson, Tom. “With Friends Like These…” Everything’s an Argument. Fifth Edition. Ed. Andrea A. Lunsford, John J. Ruszkiewicz, and Keith Walters. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010. 326-334. Print.