|Analyze an Issue Task
The more people rely on computers, the more people become alienated from one another.
Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.
As use of computers in everyday life becomes more prevalent, online interaction has become a primary mode of communication. Though such interaction sometimes leads to isolation and even hostility, computers allow for useful and unifying communication between individuals.
Computers allow people to form online communities, which can bring individuals together. Online patient communities (such as PatientsLikeMe) allow patients to share stories, discuss symptoms, and provide support for each other. Such forums are especially useful for individuals with rare diseases who are geographically isolated from each other, as they may find it impractical to meet in person, but easy and encouraging to talk to each other online. These communities demonstrate how computers can unify people rather than isolate them.
Whether or not computers alienate people from one another depends on how they are used and on how responsible the users are. Although computers can serve as useful communication tools, they often appear to isolate people because they are used in lieu of more personal types of interaction. Online communication via email and interactions on social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, is quickly replacing more traditional forms of communication, namely telephone calls. Some argue that telephones provide a more personal mode of interaction by allowing callers to hear each other’s voices, a feature that is lost in an email or chat message. Additionally, the distant nature of online networking allows people to hide behind a veil of anonymity, which can encourage irresponsible people to be ruder to others than they would be in person. For this reason, computer-based forms of communication can be impersonal and sometimes hostile, and if overused or abused, they are capable of alienating people.
Computers allow for positive social interaction between people, and the advent of social networking has made this interaction incredibly convenient. However, computer owners and users must not abuse the means of communication provided by computers in order to prevent alienation.
Score: 3 (of 6)
The ETS, the administrators of the GRE, defines a Score 3 essay as “…demonstrate[ing] some competence in addressing the specific task directions, in analyzing the issue and in conveying meaning, but is obviously flawed.” The two main problems with the essay are that: 1) the essay doesn’t fully address the prompt, and 2) the positions in the essay aren’t fully developed. There are some minor grammatical errors, but they aren’t problematic enough to be the defining characteristics of the essay. The prompt asks you to “[d]iscuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement…,” however, you never explicitly take a stand, rather you articulate the reasons the reasons for computer-related alienation and balance them with the benefits of computers. Because this response obliquely addresses the issues raised in the prompt, it exceeds the characteristics of a Score 2 essay that would “…[disregard] the specific task directions…”, yet fails to “…[present] a clear position on the issue in accordance with the assigned task…”, a quality associated with Score 4 essays.