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Devon Pollack

Professor Gina Srmabekian

English 114A
14 November 2014
Loneliness and Social Media
Claudia Rankines American lyric, Dont Let Me Be Lonely is an enlightening
book that explores darker sides of life through poetry and prose. Rankine includes
illustrations and photographs to accurately describe the complexity of her writing. Her
American lyric describes a reality plagued by loneliness. She explores this heavy topic by
using creative rhetoric and poetry. Rankine is full of depressing emotions that creates her
powerful narrative. Much of her writing explains how many of us go through our lives
unknown. This is what loneliness is; it recognizes our insignificance to the world.
Rankine writes towards this and explains that we are all a part of loneliness. However,
the feeling of loneliness brings people in search of friendship closer together through
Facebook so they do not feel isolated, unfortunately some do not realize how this is a
problem to the world today and people should talk to others outside of social media.
Rankine uses many examples of evidence to support how social media contributes to
On the other hand, Rankine relies heavily on the theme loneliness through
different types of symbols and evidence. Loneliness is something that never goes away, it
will always be a part of the human condition. However, with hope it can help us forget
our loneliness. Change is beyond the power of the individual, Or maybe hoping is the
same as waiting. It can be futile (Rankine 119). This change can be waiting for a life to

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begin and before that happens, everyone is still lonely. The narrator is rethinking the
underlying meaning of life, then all life is a form of waiting, but it is the waiting of
loneliness. One waits to recognize the other, to see the other as one sees the self
(Rankine 120). Rankine brings in her thoughts on loneliness and relationships to hope. It
takes two minds to communicate properly and if one refuses, they both remain lonely.
The narrator attempts to communicate without giving up the sense of self.
An example would be when Cornel West makes the point that American
optimism is different from hope. The sadness is not about George W. Bush; it is the
recognition that life cannot matter. The Inability to Maintain Hope, IMH, which is no
innate trust in the supreme laws that govern us (Rankine 23). Cornel West describes this
as the problem with black people today by saying too scared by hope to hope, too
experienced to experience, too close to dead is what I think (Rankine 23). Cornel West
thinks that black people today are too nihilistic to realize what life is about. The quote
because the foundations for loneliness begin in the dreamscapes you create. Their
resemblance to reality reflects disappointment first (Rankine 121) means that loneliness
is something that comes from ones mind.
Additionally, the use of the television in her book shows how Rankine changes
from one subject to another. Rankine uses different analogies, such as Internet search
engines, media films, and newspaper writings to establish her poetic method of showing
loneliness. She relies heavily on persuasive appeal using a lot of ethos and logos. The
credibility of the author is ethos and the evidence is logos. Her social activism is very

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effective because she gets her point across to her audience by showing different symbols
of evidence.
As seen in the book Dont Let Me Be Lonely loneliness is also expressed on the
social networking site Facebook. The feeling of loneliness brings people closer together
in search of friendship to Facebook. The article Does Facebook make you lonely?
discusses how the feelings of loneliness attract many lonely people to Facebook. The
social network does not make people feel more isolated, however experts found out the
lonelier someone is, the longer they would spend their time on Facebook. Compared to
non-lonely people, lonely people spend more time on Facebook. Lonely individuals who
are shy or have low social support may turn to Facebook to compensate for their lack of
social skills and/or social networks in face-to-face settings (Does Facebook make you
lonely?). People with a lack of social skills may use Facebook as a connection to make
friends because they may not know how to communicate with others outside of the
Internet. The other article Lonely people share too much on Facebook discusses how
people disclose personal information on Facebook, in order to not feel so lonely. Most of
these users shared their relationship status and home address publicly instead to just their
close friends. It makes sense that the people who felt lonely would disclose this type of
information, (Lonely people share too much on Facebook) explains how people disclose
all of their personal information online and not discuss it to people in person. These
people are the ones that feel lonely and they disclose this information to receive comfort
from others online.

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The article Is Facebook really making people more lonely? is the
counterargument regarding how Facebook contributes to loneliness. This article explains
how Facebook has no real friendships and it is just for phonies. However, lonely people
are already loners in real life. This article says that if you are lonely go outside and meet
someone face-to-face. Facebook alienates people from meeting people outside of social
media. However, Facebook may cause depression when people read others statuses.
The genres of these articles are texts and some are blogs. All of the information
from these articles tries to get their points across to the audience to explain to them that
Facebook does contribute to the feeling of loneliness. Dont Let Me Be Lonely includes a
short passage that states, define loneliness? Yes. Its what we cant do for each other.
What do we mean to each other? What does a life mean? Why are we here if not for each
other (Rankine 62). Rankine uses this passage to recognize what obligation that people
are lacking. This quote can relate to Facebook and loneliness because people are unsure
what they are lacking in life that makes them want to use Facebook to connect with
Rankine uses an example of Mr. Tools, who walks around with an artificial
heartbeat. His heartbeat was a private and perhaps lonely singularity (Rankine 71). Mr.
Tools felt that his artificial heartbeat made him feel lonely because it had a whirr
sound. No one else had to deal with this sound or how he felt. On page 21 of Dont Let
Me Be Lonely, there is a puddle showing the death of black person. This can be used as
propaganda because it is showing that George W. Bush did not remember if two or three

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people were convicted for dragging a black man to his death in his home state of Texas
(Rankine 21). This shows how American optimism is different.
Pathos is used in these articles to show emotion and Rankine uses the rhetoric
appeal to explain how she feels towards loneliness. The articles and the American lyric
also include ethos to show the credibility of the authors. All of the evidence is logos
because the articles include statistics of lonely users who go on Facebook. More than
79% of the users who describe themselves as lonely disclosed personal information
(Lonely people share too much on Facebook). Unfortunately, people that lack the social
skills to go talk to people outside of social media are unsure how to talk to them. That is
why they feel that they have to disclose all of their personal information online because
they do not know how to communicate outside of social media. Rankines book contains
many types of social media activism to explain her points. Loneliness is shown through
the disconnect between TV and reality. The way the world is represented and how the
true world is represented is different on TV. Rankine uses convincing language to engage
her audience into believing what she writes just as how the authors write their own
articles. However, I think Facebook does contribute to the feeling of loneliness because
people can talk to people outside of the Internet. Opening up to strangers online is not the
safest way to go. Talking to others outside of social media can help others make more
friends and not feel lonely.
My first scholarly article I used is called Friend Me if You Facebook:
Generation Y and Performative Surveillance discusses panoptocism. Michel Foucault
explains how social media may affect us on a psychological level. Many people are

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watching social media on Facebook just like actors on a stage know that an audience is
watching them. Members of the Facebook community use it to build their so-called real
friendships. People offer themselves up for surveillance, known as unchanging subjects.
My second scholarly article I used is called The Construction of Self in Social Medias,
Such as Facebook. This article discusses social construction through Facebook because
Facebook is basically its own social world. Facebook opens up new possibilities for
people to present themselves.
Panoptocism can also be seen in Dont Let Me Be Lonely Each of the pictures all
has their own background story to them creating a plot. Stories can be prisons. Once we
are in the stories, the characters live out its plot lines. In our family, we all have a certain
role to play. There are certain scripts that get acted out over again. Some stories get us
hooked to them and our favorite scene could become part of a panoptic gaze. It seems
that everyone kind of controls his or her own destiny with life in this book. Race, class,
and gender can use social construction in Dont Let Me Be Lonely. Just like Facebook,
Rankine uses many examples to show social construction. She uses different TV screen
pictures to show what is happening in the world and how it contributes to social media.
One of the social campaigns, the UNICEF Tap Project and agency Droga 5
challenged people to turn their Facebook network into a fundraising network to help
provide clean water for people in need. Just access the app and for every 10 minutes you
do not touch your phone, sponsor Armani will provide clean water for a child in need.
Another campaign I found was a video on YouTube that is called You need to get off
Facebook. It explains how there is more to life than just talking to people online. There

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is a guy in the video holding up a sign that says, you dont have 852 friends. No one
has that many friends. Your close friends are the ones you hangout with outside of social
media. Facebook causes people to not be social outside of the Internet and this is a
problem. People need to talk to people outside of the Internet to become social.
My counterargument is that Randi Zuckerberg, who is the sister of Mark
Zuckerberg stated that it is okay if people stay on Facebook. She stated, "this is really in
line with Facebook's message of sharing with the people you want to share with and
doing it mindfully and consciously.
The conversation surrounding this event is whether or not social media is a good
thing to meet people online. The reaction of the public is if you cannot be alone, then you
will be lonely. The government can relate to this video by seeing how it had a positive
impact on the people who watched it. These social activisms can be effective to the
public by showing them that there is more to life than just talking to people on Facebook.
There are logos in all of these social activisms by showing the use of reasoning to stay off
of Facebook. There is also ethos by showing the emotion of his or her own individual
My own social campaign is a Twitter page that is called Get Up and Go. The page
discusses how everyone who feels lonely should get up and go outside and do something
productive. Rankine says, we must both be here in this world in this life in this place
indicating the presence of (Rankine 131). This quote explains that we all must recognize
who we are in order to not feel lonely. Rankine proposes that we should all identify
ourselves so we do not feel lonely. My social campaign proposes how everyone needs to

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be active and make sure they do not have the urge to go on social media. My audience is
for those who feel lonely and need to escape that feeling of loneliness. They need to be
able get up and go outside to be active. Putting away the social devices cannot hurt
someone. It can definitely be a good thing for people. Pathos is used in my social
campaign because I think it could cause people to use their emotions and think how being
active can help them out. Logos can be the evidence that this social activism can do to
others. Going outside can really help someone out because they will meet other people
and create friendships. Facebook does not create friendships.
In conclusion, friendship is brought closer together through Facebook so people
do not feel isolated, however some do not realize that this might be a problem in the
world today. Facebook contributes to loneliness and that is not a good thing. My
campaign is here to get people closer together outside of the social network. It is not
healthy to sit inside all day and just stare at your computer waiting to talk to people who
are your so-called friends. I want to make sure that everyone who feels lonely to get up
and go outside and create other relationships with people not on the Internet. It is by far
way healthier than staring at your computer all the time or looking down at your phone.
You never know whom you might meet outside of the computer. Meeting someone in
person can definitely help create better friendships. Social media is something that should
not control our everyday lives, but by going outside it should relieve the pressure of
wanting to use the Internet.

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Works Cited
Hilsen, Anne Inga, and Tove Helvik. "The Construction of Self in Social Medias, Such as
Facebook." AI & SOCIETY: 3-10. Print.
"If You Can Stay Off Your Phone For 10 Freaking Minutes, Kids In Need Will Get Clean
Water." Co.Create. Web. 7 Nov. 2014.
"Is Facebook Really Making People More Lonely?" The Week. Web. 1 Nov. 2014.
"Lonely People Share Too Much on Facebook." New York Post. Web. 1 Nov. 2014.
MailOnline, Sarah. "Does Facebook Make You Lonely? Social Network Attracts Isolated
People Looking for Friendship, Study Claims." Mail Online. Associated
Newspapers, 13 Oct. 2014. Web. 1 Nov. 2014.
"Mark Zuckerberg's Sister: Get Off Facebook!" Yahoo Finance. Web. 7 Nov. 2014.
Rankine, Claudia. Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric. Saint Paul, Minn.:
Graywolf, 2004. Print.
Westlake, E.j. "Friend Me If You Facebook: Generation Y And Performative
Surveillance." TDR/The Drama Review: 21-40. Print.
"You Need to Get off Facebook." YouTube. YouTube. Web. 7 Nov. 2014.