A rhetoric of visual humor on Facebook

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© 2016 by IGI Global. All rights reserved. A decade ago, Susan C. Herring (2004) urged scholars to study discoursal patterns of computer-mediated communications and not simply their microlinguistic features. This chapter contributes to the literature by examining the rhetoric of visual humor on Facebook. The purpose of the study is two-fold: (a) to develop a conceptual framework for understanding uses of humor on Facebook, and (b) to show that humorous texts on this social networking site are argumentative in focus. Using ideas from Aristotelian rhetoric, Barthian semiotics, and Saidian discourse analysis, the work contends that Facebook visual humor tends to perform four main functions. They can be gubernatorial, institutional, cultural, or grotesque, and often ridicule societal problems in either overt or covert ways. The findings are useful for developing a conceptual framework for studying the complexities of human culture in digital spaces.

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Analyzing Language and Humor in Online Communication