Now turn to Exercise 17, p. 69

Free Speech Matters: Yik Yak oh Yooo…. by Dr Keith Ablow, pp. 68 – 69

See below for plan of response and sample student paragraphs. You must use appropriate metalanguage to avoid summarising. Make sure that you set up the paragraph with a key argument point and identify the embedded or implied reasoning/persuasive strategy. Then move to word-level analysis and purpose (keeping in mind the “technique story”).

Paragraph One

Key argument: Dr Ablow criticises the socially irresponsible nature of the Yik Yak creators. He mounts a convincing argument to contend that creators should take greater moral and social responsibility and should be held legally accountable for the consequences of their inventions.

  • (Identify the reasoning and persuasive strategies that are embedded or implied in this main contention): attack/criticisms of developers and appeal to social responsibility;
  • big picture purpose: to isolate and shame those individuals who harm others with impunity
  • Word level analysis and purpose: “character assassinating short messages”
  • Analogy with crack cocaine drug pushers/ they are morally bereft and shamelessly exploiting the vulnerable..
Paragraph Two

Key argument: Drawing upon a string of disruptive incidents throughout the college system, this author reinforces his main view that the app should be removed because it is seriously disruptive

  • (Embedded key reasoning/persuasive strategies): string of real-life school examples to reinforce his point that this is not an isolated incident but is widespread.
Paragraph Three

Key argument: Sympathetically and with considerable moral authority, Dr Ablow further reasons that the app is morally repugnant because it wreaks immeasurable psychological harm upon its victims.

  • (Embedded or implied persuasive/reasoning strategy): depiction of the victims and appeal to emotional wellbeing of all members of the school community.
  • Their self esteem is “ravaged”; they are defenceless, vulnerable, humiliated
  • They are ‘left to defend themselves’; ‘do not know why they are targeted’
  • Stigmatised.. target of vicious , salacious gossip; they are seriously maligned
  • Case studies – ravaging the self esteem

See Sample Paragraphs : use appropriate metalanguage and analytical sentences with an in-built purpose

In his article published in “Free Speech Matters” (August Edition 2014), Dr Keith Ablow, an eminent psychiatrist, draws attention to an alarming digital trend that is destroying the social fabric at many secondary colleges. Drawing upon his professional expertise and real-life examples, Dr Ablow points out that this latest fashionable app, Yik Yak, facilitates the anti-social tendencies inherent in social media.  By prioritising values such as care and concern Dr Ablow clearly isolates the founders as well as schools who implement the program. Accordingly, he sews doubt among the school cohort as to whether the benefits of the app outweigh the disadvantages.

The author discredits the reputation and motives of the founders such as Tyler Droll, CEO of Yik Yak, whom he believes are more interested in financial gain than the welfare of the students. Erroneously believing that they are designing “a city’s central plaza or campus bulletin board”,  these “designers”, according to Dr Ablow, are akin to shameful and hypocritical drug pushers. Adopting the high moral ground, Dr Ablow figuratively refers to the use of the apps as “crack cocaine” because of the social harm it is likely to cause. Furthermore, the reference to their founders’ disguise as “techie entrepreneurs” implies that they are duplicitous and hypocritical business people who are profiting from the misery of others.  By association, the reputation of supportive schools is tarnished and all those concerned about the education and wellbeing of their children would be suitably indignant.    By referencing his relationship with the world class attorney Joe Sirprut, Dr Ablow not only shows his eminent credentials but threatens the developers to recognise their legal liabilities for the psychological destruction they are causing. This threatening message is not only designed to alarm the founders but parents as well who would be concerned about the consequences of these digital apps.    Finally, Dr Ablow reinforces and improves his own status by demonstrating the courage to care in contrast to those who shamefully exploit vulnerable students.

The reference to real life examples at several American high schools enables the author to emphatically reinforce the disruptive and harmful nature of these anonymous bulletin boards. Not only does the author continue to shame the schools and founders of these app, with the fact that “untruthful, mean, character-assassinating short messages are immediately seen by all users”, but the parent and student cohort are likely to become extremely anxious. Specifically, the fact that it caused disruption whereby a school “was evacuated twice” after “anonymous threats via Yik Yak” as well as “shooting threats” clearly leaves readers in no doubt as to the possible dangers. The author’s highly emotive references to the fact that it “ravages the self esteem of others” and “destroys a person’s reputation” are designed to alarm all concerned parents and educators. Dr Ablow also builds antagonism and a climate of fear by drawing attention to the fact that the users are anonymous and can target another “without any consequences, whatsoever”.

Return to Analysing Arguments: Now turn to exercises