Chapter 7: Making Your Own Argument

Analyzing a Specific Central Document

While these questions are specific to analyzing Facebook groups or pages, these questions about activity, audience, and the unique structures, properties, and language of any central document will help you analyze the form of your central document, no matter the medium.

As the Occupy Wall Street Facebook group is a changing virtual document, analysis of it must be pinned to a specific time and date. In our case, we analyzed a specific comment thread on a specific post on the Occupy Wall Street Facebook page on August 6th 2016. As you narrow your focus on your Central Document, remember that the purpose is not to  make an argument about the topic of the post (i.e. Israel and Palestine) but rather, the role of Facebook in protest movements.

We focused on the following observations (keep in mind that the page may have changed since we made these observations):

  • Repetition of raised fists in the banner photo
  • Links to outside pages and events was the most common action on the home page
  • The majority of the links are to actions and event from across the globe
  • The Facebook group was updated regularly (at least once a day) with consistent activity in the form of comments on each post
  • In the post “From #Ferguson to #Gaza #BLM,” which includes a link to a video titled “Black Lives Matter has zero F***S left for Israel,” commenters are struggling to connect the events in Ferguson, Missouri in the United States to Gaza in the Middle East, as the post is prompting. Instead, people are calling each other names like “idiots” and asking questions like “What the hell does BLM have to do with geopolitics in the Middle East?”

In this brief example, you can see how we have narrowed our focus from the community page, to the timeline, to the posts on the timeline, to a specific post on the timeline, to specific comments on that post. This is the level of focus and detail that is required to write an eight-page university-level argumentative essay. With this focus, the two pieces of evidence will use are the the inflammatory name-calling and the confusion about how the two situations are related.  


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Write Here, Right Now: An Interactive Introduction to Academic Writing and Research Copyright © 2018 by Ryerson University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.