Friday, 6 September 2013

Facebook: Genre and Language Conventions

Facebook: Genre and Language Conventions

This week’s reading revolved around the concept of diaries transitioning into the digital era. Diaries were a way to express your feelings onto a page, and were generally kept hidden from the public; but now, “internet diaries (also known as “blogs”) give access to lives in progress to a potential audience of thousands.” (McNeill, 2011). Blogs are the ‘digital diary’ that is often used today, and much like a blog, Facebook has been used to express feelings through the use of the internet. Many people tend to update their status when they have gone through some life event, no matter how insignificant it may seem. A Facebook status gives you the power to tell everyone what you’re doing, and how you feel about it, by using specific genre and language conventions.

As I mentioned last week, Tuan (1991) states that there are different ways by which language contributes toward the making of place. The language and genre choices people make determine how people will interpret what they write on Facebook.  In this week’s lecture, Van Luyn (2013) said “All language use is framed in generic types. Genre is a precondition for communication, for the creation and interpretation of texts.” There are different ways to communicate expressions on Facebook. In a status, people could use emotive language to gain attention from others (sad status makes people worry about them and want to comfort them; angry/swearing statuses make people concerned and want to help them; happy statuses make other people feel happy for them etc). Also, the new feature on Facebook allows people to add emoticons on their status to show how they are feeling. This helps confirm their emotions and allows people to react accordingly. Also, the use of capitals to show frustration or excitement attracts readers, as does adding pictures either to their statuses or even just as a post itself. These conventions will attract peer attention, whether it is positive or negative. This demonstrates the idea of power within Facebook, as the genre and language choices determine how people perceive you online.

Lomborg, S. (2011) wrote an article called ‘Social media as communicative genres’. The Abstract of this article states “This paper establishes and discusses a conceptual framework for defining social media as communicative genres, constituted by the interplay between interactive functionalities configured at the software level and the invocation and appropriation of various software functionalities to achieve specific purposes in and through users’ actual communicative practices.” If you’re interested in reading this article further, go to for the online version, or for the PDF file.


McNeill, L. (2011). ‘Diary 2.0?: A genre moves from page to screen.’ In Language and New Media. (C.Rowe & E.L Wyss, Ed.). Creskill, NJ: Hampton Press Inc.

Tuan, Y. (1991). Annals of the Association of American Geographers. Taylor& Francis, LTD. Retrieved from:

Van Luyn, A. 2013. BA1002: Our Space: Networks, Narratives, and the Making of Place, Week 6 Notes (PowerPoint). Retrieved from:

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