Q).What ideas have been presented in second passage? Comment on the rhetorical desires of the passage using brief references. By Xainab Shuja


This passage is an extract from a newspaper report, titled “Social websites harm children’s brains”. The genre of this passage is non-fiction. The theme of this passage is social media and sub themes include technology and psychology. The tone of this passage is very aggressive, but at the same time maintaining a sense of formality. The mood of the passage is slightly angry, as professionals are expressing their views on social media affecting the youth. The language used in the passage is formal, not too complex, but at the same time using bold words to support the arguments. The attitude is strongly biased and the style expository. The audience includes people who read newspaper and adults. The purpose of this report is to persuade the reader to spend less time on social media.

This news report uses strong literary devices such as evidence, facts and expert opinions to support its arguments. The overall impression that the reader gets is a sense of responsibility to agree to the writer’s views as the passage is specifically structured to manipulate the reader’s thoughts and feelings.

Anyone who reads the passage will immediately notice that it starts off heavily argumentative, and using very bold words “alarming changes”, “eminent scientist”, “disturbing reading” and    “sharp decline”, words like these are used throughout the passage. These words stand out to the reader as much as a few grains of salt in pepper pot. As a result the reader gets a sense of urgency and alarm, that this is a serious issue, one should be worrying about these words also help to create emphasis on the said phrase, an alternate for exaggeration and figurative language.

The second eminent literary device used is jargon .the writer has maintained the usage of jargons, but somehow manages to blend them in, in such a way that the reader does not find it difficult to read, for example “facebook”, “twitter”, “Bebo” and “Micro blogging”. This usage of jargons ensures the writer’s authenticities and assures the reader that what he is reading is genuine and the author was well informed.

The writer exaggerates all the way through the passage as well, “rewire the brain”, “engaged in for millennia”, “instant gratification”, etc. the way the writer has used exaggeration, he does not need to create a complex or unique argument and exaggeration is also very useful alternative for  figurative language. In this way the argument is enhanced and brought so many levels that it simply jumps out at the reader and is impossible to ignore.

Facts are also provided in the report. For example, “psychologists have also argued” and a study by the Broadcaster Audience Research shows”. The facts back up and support the writer’s views, and is one element, like statistics and expert opinion, that the reader can’t overlook or forget, it is a constant reminder that what the writer is talking about is a genuine , real- life problem that needs to be paid attention to.

Statistics are sprinkled into the mix as well, “150 million use facebook”, “6 million have signed up for twitter”. Numbers are as big as these help the reader to envision the masses the writer is talking about, and that brings up awareness. The statistics further highlight the phrases and simply scream the effort and research that took to write this report.

The also gives the reader expert opinions. Opinions are given from experts such as Baroness Greenfield and Sue Palmer. “I often wonder whether real conversation … on a supermarket shelf, and “We are seeing children’s brains … engaged in for millennia” are some examples. These opinions seem to stand in the face of any sort of opposition and seem to be doing someone to argue against them. Psychologically, the reader feels compelled to agree to something coming from as expert.

Added to facts, statistics, and expert opinion the writer provides evidence for his claims, “digital technology is changing the way we think”, etc. This further assures the reader & creates a stance for the writer.

The writer has added eye witnesses such as “a teacher of 30 years old”. This this further proves the visitor’s point and support to his argument.

The writer also implements logic and reason, which is shown by “effectively rewire the brain”. This reinforces reason and adds a rather persuasive effect.

The tone of the passage remains constant throughout. Right from the beginning, the tone starts of very argumentative and aggressive, but still staying very composed  and formal, using words such as “an eminent scientist has waived” and “may be doing more harm than good”. The tone is intertwined with the arguments in such a way that the reader unconsciously feels that he has to agree with what the writer is saying. Even if the reader has some doubts regarding the arguments presented, the argumentative tone and the serious mood would persuade him to agree to the report.

Despite the theme, mood and tone of the passage being very serious the writer scatters the variety of figurative language over the passage to make the information a little easier to digest. The figurative language used is relatable and easy to understand.They add subtle amplification on to the messages as well.

The writer used the assonance alliteration, “flight or fight” this helps the reader comprehend what a terrible effect social media has on the youth.

The writer also uses “buzzing”, which is an onomatopoeia. This helps the reader envision and actually has the sound the writer is describing.

The writer then used “killing, skinning, and butchering an animal is replaced by packets of meat on a supermarket shelf.This is a smile as well as assonance. The smile relates two things together and is relatable to the readers as well.

The uses of triples, “killing, skinning and butchering” is very effective. It is easier for the reader to comprehend, as it is in a group of three. Most symbols figures in English literature are triples, e.g: The three Witches(Macbeth), The Three Musketeers, and The Deathly Hallows (Harry potter). The way this device is incorporated is very impressive for someone analyzing a text, as it seems that the writer is very learned.

This news report uses strong literary devices such as evidence, facts and expert opinions. The tone is heavily argumentative, and the mood is very serious, as the writer is discussing the effect of Social Media on the young generation’s brain. Despite the tone and the mood, the reader does not feel gloomy but instead, because the passage is argumentative, it makes the reader feel motivated to do it right, and a sense of responsibility to prevent wrong. In order to achieve this effect, the writer uses a combination of figurative language to make the flow of the passage smoother and easier to read, and he was exaggeration to enhance most of his arguments, bolding them out to reader and leaving a lasting impression.

About froebelianwriters

I am an English Language teacher teaching O'Levels Edexcel and CIE A Levels at Froebel's International School, Islamabad. I am also working as a Subject Specialist Literacy consultant for the same school. Writing and reading has always been a passion and I try my utmost to instill these habits and hobbies in my students as well. I can be reached/contacted at fabbas227@hotmail.com or 03365287335 Happy reading!

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