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One of our course topics is the value of online life. Many of the writers we have discussed are curious about this—about whether and how our time online contributes to our sense of who we are, who we can be, and what we can do. Sherry Turkle, for example, worries that constant connection through cell phones and social media makes users emotionally dependent on others and encourages them to lie about or hide their true selves. Mark Hain, on the other hand, suggests that online environments can provide necessary safe spaces for young people to develop their identities and to find or create community. William Powers has a different perspective on whether spending time online contributes anything of value to our offline lives, and Adam Alter and Stefana Broadbent share yet others. Taken together, these scholars offer us a glimpse of the ongoing conversation about the perils and possibilities that come with the digital spaces we inhabit every day. Compose an essay in which you enter this conversation by making an argument about the value of online life in the current moment. You should use the readings from our textbook as your primary sources, summarizing them, and drawing connections between them in order to explain and support the points you want to make. At the same time, you should also draw on your personal experiences as a user of the media under discussion. That is, what stories or examples can you share that contribute something to this ongoing conversation? As you write, pay attention to how your sources counter, complicate or build on each other’s ideas—or how your own experiences build on theirs. A strong essay will recognize the complexity of this topic, acknowledge multiple points of view, and resist arriving at simplistic conclusions.
• Your essay should include an interesting opening paragraph that introduces the topic of your paper and states your guiding idea or thesis.
• It should also include a conclusion paragraph that explains your final observations, questions, or reflections.
• The body of your essay should explain what you have discovered about your topic, focusing on a series of main points that structure and develop your guiding idea.
• Your essay should use our course readings as your primary sources, summarizing them, and drawing connections between them to explain and support your main points.
• You should also draw on specific, relevant personal experiences to illustrate your ideas.
• The structure of your essay should grow out of your guiding idea or thesis. It should be organized into a series of paragraphs, each dedicated to a main idea or example that explains or elaborates on some component of your thesis.
• Your essay should include topic sentences and transitions to help your reader move from the main idea to main idea, paragraph to paragraph.
Format and Citation
• You should include quotations that are contextualized, well explained, and formatted in MLA. (At least three quotations are required.)
• Your essay should include an MLA works cited entry for each source that you cite.
• Your essay should be in MLA general format throughout.
Style and Mechanics
• Your essay should exhibit correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
• You should utilize an appropriate authorial voice and academic style.