Butter Archive #13: Are Video Games Literature?

So this week we’ve been looking at video games and other interactive fictions, and it’s a topic that I think is really fascinating and interesting… so much so that I made a video essay about it! I made this last year in response to the Digital Literature course I took in 3rd year, and I thought that because it touches on a lot of the conversations we’ve been having it’d be worth sharing! Hope you enjoy, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!


The Onion: An Empire Founded on Satire

Adam Bernards

Susan Brown

ENGL 4310

September 28, 2015

““This guy’s really interested in the poor, so we should have something nice to say, like, I don’t know, how they’re salt-of-the-earth people or how they’re humble or something like that,” said Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), one of several dozen representatives who stood around struggling for nearly half an hour to come up with any positive associations they felt toward the country’s impoverished population” (The Onion).

Since its conception in 1988, The Onion has cemented itself as one of the best sources for satirical writing, in particular political satire, in the United States. Its articles provide a uniquely intelligent and witty brand of social commentary that has attracted massive readership across North America, and the rest of the world. In its “About Us” section, The Onion sarcastically boasts a daily readership of 4.3 trillion, claiming itself to have a “towering standard of excellence to which the rest of the industry aspires” (About The Onion). This daily readership statistic is obviously false, but their actual readership is roughly one million readers per month, a number which is not insignificant when you consider the niche market they cater to (Wenner, Peeling The Onion). It’s relatively large (and constantly growing) readership, paired with the high level of intelligence buried beneath the humorous top layer has lead many to question whether satirical news sources like The Onion aren’t just as important as pieces of political commentary as they are as instances of comedic writing. The Onion provides a uniquely honest commentary on the world around it, and for that reason among many others, it is clear that it has a much greater importance to society than just being funny. Not only is it a powerful source of social and political commentary, but it is steadily growing into a prominent social media platform.

On the surface, one can hardly find a piece of serious information on The Onion’s website. Its “About the Onion” section claims it was founded in 1765, operates the majority of the world’s transoceanic shipping lanes, and is “the single most powerful and influential organization in human history” (About the Onion). It seems at first glance that nearly every other sentence on the entire website contains a joke in some form. It is first and foremost an entertainment website after all. That said, after reading only one article from its politics section, one begins to see that The Onion is much more than a website full of cheap jokes. Beneath that layer of humour is a well-informed, expertly crafted political opinion that uses comedy to convey its message. Sociologists Shawn Bingham and Alexander Hernandez speak to the power of comedy as a means of conveying knowledge in a classroom setting in their article “Laughing Matters”: The Comedian as Social Observer, Teacher, and Conduit of the Sociological Perspective.

“Laughing Matters” is an extensive analysis of the value that satire and comedy can have in a classroom setting. Their article claims that this value comes from the accessibility that comedy and satire provide; essentially that a student is more likely to retain information if they are being entertained as they receive it. They point to a fellow sociologist, Murray S. Davis, who claims that comedians “break open our frames by disordering what has been ordered by human constructions and social expectations” (Bingham and Hernandez 337). What Murray is ostensibly saying is that comedians have the advantage of not being confined to those “social expectations” that would dictate to others what information they can convey, and how they can convey it. Using the example of a different Onion article than the one being discussed here, Bingham and Hernandez point to a specific case of a time when satire was used effectively to get the students thinking on a deeper level about the subject matter. The article in question was headlined with the caption “Myspace Outage Leaves Millions Friendless”, and it was used to force the students to think about the role social media plays in their lives. Observing how this was successful, they say, “satire became a vehicle for engaging students in analysis of the norms, structure and habits that exist in the Myspace World” (Bingham and Hernandez 339). To speak to the value of The Onion in particular, Bingham and Hernandez list it alongside Comedy Central and Clipblast as one of the “sites that provided us with a good start, yielding the most material” (Bingham and Hernandez 341). Bingham and Hernandez speak to the quantity and the quality of content on The Onion’s website. In terms of our discussion on the power and importance of satire news sources like the Onion, they definitively conclude that satire is just as valid as a conduit of social and political information as any other source; but in mentioning the quantity of their content, they inadvertently bring us to a positive evaluation of The Onion as a piece of social media as well.

Regardless of its content, The Onion‘s website is an effectively designed piece of social media that encourages its readers to stay on and continue reading once they have come to the site in the first place. From any given article, the reader has access so several more without even needing to scroll down on the page. Of course, once they do that, they gain instant access to even more articles and videos. From an article, the reader only has to scroll down to read the next article in that section; or they can choose to click the “Menu” tab which always remains at the top of the screen, even when you scroll down, and gain access to the main page, or to any of the eight sections of the online newspaper. In his article “The Onion is Not a Joke” Chris Heller speaks to the power of this recently redesigned website: “The Onion unveiled its new website on Friday, and through it, we can see a glimpse of what The Onion might become: a real media empire” (Heller). Here Heller emphasizes that The Onion has become much more than a fake newspaper. He goes on to say, “Onion Inc. cannot be described, simply, as a publisher. It has been transformed into a bonafide digital media company—with a profitable, in-house advertising agency in tow—that wants to succeed where the targets of its barbs have not” (Heller). Heller is certain that The Onion is on the rise as a social media empire, which stands just as powerful as the institutions it exists to parody.

Satire news sources like The Onion have a unique and powerful impact on the political and social world. They have the benefit of accessibility that many more conventional news sources simply don’t have. Bingham and Hernandez say “laughter is often a reaction to something that resonates with students” (Bingham and Hernandez 350). The ability that satire has to convey information and entertain its reader at the same time sets it apart from traditional newspapers. Its for exactly this reason, coupled with The Onion‘s recent efforts to rebrand and expand its reach, that it is growing into the media empire that Chris Heller claims it is. It’s intelligent design and well crafted content cement it as an effective and powerful instance of social media.

Word Count: 1133

Time posted 9:00 pm, Monday September 28th


Works Cited

“About The Onion.” The Onion. Onion Inc. Web. <http://www.theonion.com/about/&gt;.
Bingham, Shawn, and Alexander Hernandez. “”Laughing Matters”: The Comedian as Social Observer, Teacher, and Conduit of the Sociological Perspective.” Teaching Sociology 37.4 (2009): 335-52. Web.
Heller, Chris. “The Onion Is Not a Joke.” The Atlantic 1 May 2015. Web.
“House Lawmakers Brainstorming Some Good Things To Say About Poor People Before Meeting Pope Francis.” The Onion. Onion Inc., 22 Sept. 2015. Web.
Wenner, Kathryn. “Peeling the Onion.” American Journalism Review 1 Sept. 2002. Web. <http://ajrarchive.org/Article.asp?id=2618&gt;.

Position Paper: Teen Mom and Its Effect on Social Media

Position Paper

Special Studies in English

Katrina Goncalves

Student Number: 0760355

ENGL 4310

Professor Brown

Monday September 28th, 2015

                                      Teen Mom and Its Effect on Social Media

“In ’16 and Pregnant,’ they were moms-to-be. Now, follow Maci, Farrah, Catelynn, and Amber as they face the challenges of motherhood. Each episode interweaves these stories revealing the wide variety of challenges young mothers can face: marriage, relationships, family support, adoption, finances, graduating high school, starting college, getting a job, and the daunting and exciting step of moving out to create their own families”  (Teen Mom 1).



                     In today’s society, teenage motherhood has become a popular social media trend. Many people argue this trend began with the June 2009 premiere of MTV’s controversial television show, 16 and Pregnant, which followed teen mothers over the course of their pregnancies (Wright, Randall & Arroyo 52). The television show gained a large cult following of teenagers and young adults resulting in a spin-off show, Teen Mom, which premiered in December 2009 (52). The ongoing series, Teen Mom, follows four teenage mothers and their struggles into adulthood while balancing raising a child, attending school, working, and trying to maintain stable and healthy relationships with their male counterparts (52). As a result of the television show’s popularity, the Teen Mom page created on Facebook has become a social media outlet for many teen mothers and fans of the television show. The page allows people to share and express their opinions on various controversial topics resulting from watching Teen Mom (Teen Mom 1).  Teen Mom has positively influenced social media as it has enabled many teenagers and young adults to begin discussing teen pregnancy more openly. As a result of the television show, many teenagers and young adults, male and female, feel more comfortable discussing issues regarding teenage pregnancy, sexuality and sexual protection with their parents, friends, or classmates. The creation of the Teen Mom page on Facebook allows teenagers and young adults to anonymously post questions, answer each other’s questions and give their personal opinions regarding various controversial issues that they may feel uncomfortable discussing with people outside of social media groups.

                         Aimee Morrison’s article, “Suffused by Feeling and Affect: The Intimate Public of Personal Mommy Blogging” is comparable to the Teen Mom Facebook page. Morrison’s article tends to focus on a more mature group of mommy bloggers; however, mommy blogging is not limited to one specific age group. The mommy blogging that Morrison discusses in her article is similar to the blogging of teenagers and young adults on the Teen Mom Facebook page, as both types of blogging can be identified as “personal blogging by 21st century mothers, forcefully enacts this productive link between the story of the self and broader public discourses, both aligning with and diverging from Berlant’s analysis of women’s culture” (Morrison 37). In addition, mommy blogging and Teen Mom  blogging can be identified as creating  “strong bonds of trust and support that bloggers characterize as meaningful friendship within a community” (37). Teenage mothers may use the Teen Mom Facebook group in order to discuss issues with other teenage mothers that friends without children may not necessarily understand. Teen Mom blogging is also similar to mommy blogging as both parties blog in order to have “deliberate social engagement, a creative as well as interpersonal practice that mitigates the assorted ills (physical isolation, confusion not, lack of role models etc.) and celebrates particular joys of contemporary mothering especially in the earliest years” (37). Social media can be beneficial for mommy bloggers and Teen Mom bloggers as “online media presents a profusion of “spontaneous productions of self hood and identities” (37). It can be argued that social media is beneficial for mothers at any age, as it allows them the freedom to express their views and opinions on motherhood honestly with a group of people who have the same common interests.

                         On social media, there has been a great extent of controversy regarding the intentions of MTV’s Teen Mom and these concerns are frequently discussed on the Teen Mom Facebook page (Teen Mom 1). According to MTV, the purpose of Teen Mom is to show real life perspectives of teen motherhood and to promote discussions regarding safe sexual health. Each episode ends with the famous Teen Mom phrase, “teen pregnancy is 100% preventable” (1). However, some teenagers and young adults feel that the intention of Teen Mom is to glamourize and encourage teenage pregnancy. Wright, Randall and Arroyo argue in their article, “Father–Daughter Communication About Sex Moderates the Association Between Exposure to MTV’s 16 and Pregnant/Teen Mom and Female Students’ Pregnancy-Risk Behaviour” that studies found that “children from families with an open communication style are less affected by sex on television than children in families with restrictive communication norms” (53). Therefore, social media outlets can be beneficial for teenagers or young adults that do not have the “open style communication” in their homes that Wright, Randall and Arroyo discuss in their article. The Teen Mom page may be just one social media source that allows a teenager or a young adult to anonymously gain the sexual health information that he or she needs in a safe and private environment.

                           Furthermore, sexuality in the media does not necessarily promote teenagers to engage in sexual activity. Wright, Randall and Arroyo’s article claims a study found “decreased probability of having engaged in recent intercourse for females whose fathers often communicated about sex with them while growing up” (50). Therefore, these studies show that “fathers play an especially important role in determining how sexual media socializes their daughters” (50). However, the article claims that abstinence is the only way that “teen pregnancy is 100% preventable” as no form of sexual protection is 100% effective (51). The Teen Mom page allows teenagers to weigh the pros and cons of each form of sexual protection, free from social criticism. It may also be a first step of gaining knowledge before seeking further information regarding sexual health from a medical health professional. As a result, many would argue that the Teen Mom Facebook page is beneficial for many teenagers or young adults.

                      In conclusion, the Teen Mom Facebook page has had a positive impact regarding the mental, physical, emotional and social health of teenagers and young adults. Teen Mom has enabled discussions regarding the very serious issue of teenage pregnancy and Teen Mom has been active in showing the severe consequences that teenage girls face if they neglect to use sexual protection. It is evident that sexuality in the media cannot be avoided as it plays an active role and therefore, Teen Mom and the Teen Mom Facebook page are not promoting teenage pregnancy but rather educating teenagers on the effects of teenage pregnancy and enabling informative discussions surrounding sexual health.  

                                                                                                         Word Count: 1057

                                                 Works Cited

Morrison, Aimee. “Suffused by Feeling and Affect”: The Intimate Public of Personal Mommy Blogging.” Biography 34.1 (2011): 37. University of Guelph Library. Web. 27 Sept. 2015. <http://sfx.scholarsportal.info/guelph?frbrVersion=6&ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&ctx_enc=info:ofi/enc:UTF-8&ctx_tim=2015-09-28T12:37:42IST&url_ver=Z39.88-2004&url_ctx_fmt=infofi/fmt:kev:mtx:ctx&rfr_id=info:sid/primo.exlibrisgroup.com:primo3-Article-gale_ofa&rf>.

Teen Mom. Facebook, 1 Dec. 2009. Web. 27 Sept. 2015. <https://www.facebook.com/teenmom>.

Wright, Paul, Ashley Randall, and Analisa Arroyo. “Father–Daughter Communication About Sex Moderates the Association Between Exposure to MTV’s 16 and Pregnant/Teen Mom and Female Students’ Pregnancy-Risk Behavior.” Sexuality and Culture (2013): 50-66. Print.

Mr. President: #kanyeforpresident

Lara Murphy

Dr. Susan Brown


28 September 2015

Mr. President: #kanyeforpresident

During the 2015 MTV Music Video Awards this past August, Kanye West was on stage accepting his Video Vanguard award when he shocked most people in the audience, as well as those watching from home, announcing that he intends on running for President of the United States in 2020. His announcement to run for office went viral on all forms of social media, allowing the hashtag “#kanyeforpresident” to be created, and also tweeted, retweeted and favourited so many times for it to trend on Twitter. When searching “#kanyeforpresident” on Google, the first link brings up the Twitter stream devoted to the hashtag that thousands of people tweeted.

Twitter is a popular medium and form of digital writing that allows people to read and “tweet” short messages of one hundred and forty characters at a time, about basically anything. Twitter is different and unique from other mediums as each tweet cannot exceed one hundred and forty characters, but provides the opportunity for interaction with celebrities, as well as those of the general public. There are also trending topics on Twitter, which allows anyone to see what is considered important in the current news, whether it actually be life changing news, or based on celebrity gossip, such as the hashtag “#kanyeforpresident,” informing people of Kanye West’s intention to run for presidency in 2020.

One of the challenges faced with trending topics on Twitter is if a hashtag is trending, people think it is a serious topic. Since trending topics can include a tragic accident happening somewhere in the world, as well as something “important” in the media world that has to do with a celebrity, both being a trending topic suggest they are of equal importance, when they obviously are not. Global disasters trump celebrity gossip news in terms of importance, but since they are both trending topics, they are seen as equal value on Twitter. The vast variety of trending topics makes it difficult for people to identify the trend’s level of importance, as they are all categorized under one header. These are some of the challenges tweeters face when writing for digital media, as it can sometimes be difficult to convert a topic’s importance on the Internet, into their “real life” value offline.

On January 5th, 2012, Big Sean, an American hip hop artist, tweeted “#kanyeforpresident” (BigSean) over three and a half years prior to Kanye’s “official” announcement to run for president in August 2015. While many believe he predicted the future, I think it was a joke, especially considering it was tweeted shortly after midnight, that people are now taking seriously. Big Sean and Kanye West are both influential people in society, therefore, if either of them have something to say people are going to listen. I think it is just a coincidence Kanye now decides he is going to run for president, and has nothing to do with Big Sean’s tweet from three and a half years ago. The hashtag “#kanyeforpresident” has not slowed down even though he made his announcement almost a month ago, demonstrating his appeal and impact on the public.

The hashtag is still maintaining its popularity, with “Live From E!” recently tweeting on September 24th, 2015, “#KanyeWest says he has ‘a lot of research to do’ for his presidential run. Would you vote #KanyeForPresident?” (livefrome). This tweet does what Big Sean’s tweet does not; it provides a fact as well as asks a question. As Live From E! is a popular news show, they are informing the public that Kanye admits he has a lot to do in order to prepare himself for the his presidential run. They then pose the question to the public whether they would vote for Kanye knowing he believes he has “a lot of research to do,” (livefrome) which can be taken one of two ways. He either intended his announcement to run for president as a joke that people are now taking seriously, and is playing along saying he needs to prepare, or he is serious in his intent to run, and he feels he must measure up and learn a lot in order to run properly. It is unknown what Kanye’s actual intent was when he announced his presidential run at the Music Video Awards, but it has definitely gone viral and attracted a lot of attention that people are taking it seriously, whether that is what he intended for or not. Live From E!’s hashtag also contains capital letters where Big Sean’s does not. This could be because Live From E! is a credible source that people take seriously to inform them on news and people in the media, where part of Big Sean’s job is not to be grammatically correct on Twitter. Regardless, both hashtags, with capital letters at the beginning of each word, as well as all lowercase, feed into the same hashtag stream connecting viewers to all possible tweets surrounding this topic.

Twitter’s limit of one hundred and forty characters per tweet forms and shapes how one writes, as a “tweeter” is limited to what they want to say because of the constriction. What does this mean? A tweet must therefore be concise, and hopefully clear, in order to get the message one is trying to convey across in such a short amount of space. Similarly discussed in Matthew Kirschenbaum’s article, “It Is Known” from Track Changes, writing tools and processors are believed to play an important role in word documentation. The public is largely compelled with the idea that George R.R. Martin, whose best selling series, A Song of Ice and Fire, has been adapted for the popular television series, Game of Thrones, uses an out of date word processor called WordStar, instead of something more current, with Internet connection. The way WordStar shapes Martin’s writing is similar to how Twitter’s one hundred and forty character per tweet rule shapes a “tweeter” in the sense that their writing is more focused because of their respective constrictions. Martin suggests WordStar provides a “lack of distraction,” while accounting it for his productivity (Kirschenbaum 1). Twitter’s one hundred and forty character rule forces a tweet to be concise, focused, and short. I do not believe many people like to read messages that need to be continued on into various tweets, as it is an unnecessary hassle, and more worth while to try to limit what one is trying to say to one hundred and forty characters or less. According to a Harvard Business Review, it is suggested to, “be clear, not cryptic or insidery. Don’t overuse hashtags, and don’t retweet one-on-one conversations” in regards to what makes a great tweet (André, Bernstein, and Luther, “What Makes a Great Tweet”).

Examining Twitter as a form of digital writing has revealed it to be a popular medium in which each tweet is limited to one hundred and forty characters, but also provides the ability to interact with anyone in the world who has a profile, including celebrities. Distinguishing the level of importance of “trending topics” on Twitter proves to be a challenge in this digital media, but nonetheless, Twitter shapes the way one writes similarly to WordStar in Kirschenbaum’s article as it makes one’s writing focused. It is interesting to see how seriously hashtags can be taken in today’s society, leaving one to question if “#kanyeforpresident” will still be popular in society four years from now.

Word count: 1229

Works Cited

André, Paul, Bernstein, Michael, and Luther, Kurt. “What Makes a Great Tweet.” Harvard Business Review. May 2012. Web. 26 September 2015.

Big Sean (BigSean). “#kanyeforpresident.” 5 January 2012, 12:46 a.m. Tweet.

Kirschenbaum, Matthew. Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing. N.p.: Forthcoming Havard UP, 2016. Print (forthcoming).

Live From E! (livefrome). ““#KanyeWest says he has ‘a lot of research to do’ for his presidential run. Would you vote #KanyeForPresident?” 24 September 2015,  8:34 a.m. Tweet.

Buzzfeed as a Portal: Readers’ Accessibility (Position Paper)

“The discussion around eating disorders on social media platforms can be tricky, however. Instagram blocks certain hashtags associated with the promotion of eating disorders such as #Thinspo and #ProAna. Instagram told Buzzfeed News that tags like #Anorexia are allowed, though, because they facilitate a conversation about recovery. And any non-blocked tags associated with eating disorders come with a warning alert for triggering imagery. Despite these safeguards, variations of blocked hashtags are still viewable, and often suggested in Instagram’s search box when a user types in a banned phrase.

Ashleigh says that there are secret hashtags some members use to get around these restrictions, but she’s unaware of what they are.”

The instance of social media that will be analyzed throughout this paper is a Buzzfeed post titled “Meet the Teen Girls Using Instagram to Recover from Anorexia” by Rachael Krishna, a Buzzfeed staff member, and can be found in their “Big Stories” category. This post looks at several individuals, but mostly Ashleigh Ponder, who used Instagram to document her disorder and recovery, while simultaneously using it as a tool to search for fellow frustrated anorexia patients (Krishna). Although the content is interesting, I will be focusing more on its formal components to illustrate my position on this social media platform.

Buzzfeed acts as a portal, in terms of it referring to other sources in its content, and it is through this function that it allows readers accessibility to obtain additional information. These sources refer to other social media outlets, such as Instragram, and include the use of images to simulate its environment. References to other digital writing sources are also included, such as research studies. I find this to be quite useful in comparison to printed text where the reader is only presented with the author’s input, whereas in the Buzzfeed environment we are given access to the multiplicities of resources that the Web provides for us.

Andrew Rice describes Buzzfeed as a “hyperactive amalgam: simultaneously a journalism website, a purveyor of funny lists, and a perpetual pop-culture plebiscite where you can vote on articles with bright-yellow buttons reading lol, wtf, and omg.” Its content ranges from Hollywood coverage to sports to long-form journalism, and produces over hundreds of posts a day while applying theories of virality to original articles, but mostly on material that has already been created by a third party (Rice). However, Buzzfeed is not the first to recycle information, A.E.S. mentions how Time magazine originally started out by aggregating news from other newspapers before transitioning into creating its own content (A.E.S.) It is through this sharing of information that we can apply Hayles’ thoughts on digital writing from Writing Machines to Buzzfeed as a whole, but more specifically to the aforementioned post. Hayles mentions that looking at materiality helps us to understand how literature is changing under the impact of information technologies (Hayles 19). Through Krishna’s article, we can see how literature can include other sources, evolving into a hypertext, which allows readers more access to information from a variety of outlets and demonstrates how literature can change when placed in a digital environment. This information can also be digitally shared among a wide audience, for example Rice describes Buzzfeed as an odd numbered roommate, “Buzzfeed’s articles only nominally live on their website, spending most of their time out of the house as links on social networks like Facebook and Twitter” (Rice). A.E.S. elaborates that around seventy five percent of Buzzfeed’s traffic comes from these social media websites, where people share links to stories with friends (A.E.S.).

Regarding Krishna’s article, Hayles mentions terminology that can be applied as its characteristics, the first one being ‘cybertext’ and how Aarseth’s concept describes it as a group of texts that use combinatorial strategies, mostly other software functionalities (Hayles 27). Krishna did not use other web-oriented languages but included images and references that encourage the reader to physically interact with the information, such as clicking on hyperlinks to gain access to other websites, which is not possible through printed text. In addition, this article can be referred to as a hypertext. Hayles mentions that “hypertext has at a minimum the three characteristics of multiple reading paths, chunked text, and some kind of linking mechanism to connect the chunks” (Hayles 26). The article’s multiple reading paths include these aforesaid hyperlinks, which link the reader to different web pages, such as a research study that can be used to provide evidence and back story behind a statistic. For example, Krishna mentions that “725 000 people in the UK are currently affected by an eating disorder, according to an estimate in a study conducted in February” and uses this statement as a portal in which readers can click on a part of the sentence and be taken to the b-eat website that displays this information. Other links included in the article refer the reader to a Thesaurus page when the author mentions an adolescent psychiatrist who is ‘welcoming’ of the idea of the development of these self help communities on social media, as well as concluding the article with links to Ashleigh’s Instagram account (Krishna). It is through these multiple reading paths that readers gain access to outside information that can then be utilized to obtain better understanding of the author’s retelling of Ashleigh’s story. In terms of Hayles’ second characteristic of hypertexts, Krishna uses chunked text by separations of a variety of images that illustrate the meaning behind a particular chunk. For example, Krishna displays a picture of Ashleigh in between two images of her food posts to demonstrate the kind of content that is presented in Ashleigh’s Instagram (Krishna). It is through these images that readers gain access to Instagram’s environment, which can be inaccessible to those without their own account. Lastly, Hayles’ linking mechanism can refer to the inclusion of cross-references (Hayles 26). In Krishna’s article we see how a reference to the National Centre for Eating Disorder Association’s website can elaborate on a story. Freya, a recovering anorexic patient, mentions how traumatic childhood experiences were the cause of her disorder. It is through this cross-reference that the reader learns that this cause is a common correlation found among other anorexic patients, according to the website’s studies (Krishna). Therefore, the readers are given access to this additional information that provides elaboration to an interviewee’s perspective.

One of Hayles’ critics, W.J.T. Mitchell, mentions how readers should look at the textimage, words and images together, in order to successfully analyze a text, thus “once an image has been introduced… literary critics have everything they need” (Hayles 20). This is not completely true since words, among other components, can provide readers with additional information. I will demonstrate this in a close reading analysis of a passage from Krishna’s article to show how its rhetorical elements can expand on the topic of accessibility. Firstly, the passage uses terminology that refers to ideas of access, specifically terms such as: allowed, blocked, non-blocked, suggested, viewable, secret, restrictions, and banned (Krishna). This relates to how information can be filtered depending on what the source wants you to see. “Instagram told Buzzfeed News” indicates how Buzzfeed has close access to this source and is able to discuss their reasoning about what is or not banned. For example, #Anorexia is not banned but #ProAna and #Thinspo are banned because #Anorexia is able to facilitate a discussion about recovery unlike the other hashtags (Krishna). It is through this incorporation of Instagram’s “terminology” in the article, via the hashtags, that readers gain further understanding of the issue behind discussion of eating disorders on social media, in particular Instagram. Thirdly, Krishna uses a physical separation between the two texts displayed in the passage. It is through this separation that the author’s intention, of illustrating Instagram and Ashleigh as two distinct parties and sources of information, can be shown to observant readers. For example, in Ashleigh’s isolated paragraph it mentions secret hashtags that users can use to get around these restrictions but “she’s unaware of what they are” (Krishna), demonstrates how Buzzfeed is limited by its sources, in regards to their accessibility to information depends on the source’s knowledge. This ties in with the relationship between readers and Buzzfeed, in that the readers’ accessibility depends on how much additional information Buzzfeed wants to include in their articles.

In conclusion, it is through Buzzfeed’s features that allow readers to gain more accessibility than what a printed text could provide in its limited flexibility. For instance, Buzzfeed is a website that acts as an archive due to its inclusion of outside sources in its articles, therefore the reader has access to the infinite Web which leads to additional flexibility in obtaining information. Buzzfeed is also a cybertext and a hypertext which allows this increased accessibility to occur due to multiple readings paths and linking mechanisms which act as connectors to the portal that Buzzfeed creates. Consequently, I believe that Buzzfeed, as well as other digital writing, provide their readers with more accessibility than can be accomplished with printed materials, due to its materiality being the digital environment that is the Web.

Word Count: 1406

Works Cited

A.E.S. “BuzzFeed Gets Fed.” The Economist 11 Aug. 2014: n. pag. Web.

Hayles, Katherine N. Writing Machines. Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press, 2002. Web.

Krishna, Rachael. “Meet The Teen Girls Using Instagram To Recover From Anorexia.” Buzzfeed. N.p., 17 Sept. 2015. Web.

Rice, Andrew. “Does BuzzFeed Know the Secret?” New York Magazine 7 Apr. 2013: n. pag. Web.



BuzzFeed is an American internet news media company. It describes itself as the “social news and entertainment company . . . redefining online advertising with its social, content-driven publishing technology . . . provides the most shareable breaking news.”[3] BuzzFeed was founded in 2006 in New York City as a viral lab by Jonah Peretti. The company has grown into a global[4] media and technology company providing coverage on a variety of topics including politics, DIY, animals and business.” – Wikipedia

Format and affordances

Typically lists, but also publishes longer articles

Comments are enabled on contributions.

The list is one of the dominant genres of the internet. What might a combo of a Buzzfeed listicle and long-form argument look like? [Susan]


How to use and post to Buzzfeed


A long-form argument Buzzfeed article