Courtesy of Viktor Hanacek

What’s Up with Digital Rhetoric?

I don’t like the word rhetoric. It brings to mind snobbish greek men who wore white tablecloths and spent their days thinking about how much better they were than everyone else because they spent their days thinking up words such as “rhetoric.” I also don’t like the word digital because it reminds me that one day robots will take over and we’ll all be too socially awkward to develop a plan to eliminate them. That being said, when these two terrible words are strung together like a garland of cranberries and popcorn? Well, the result is pretty cool and highly applicable to our daily lives.

According to Sean Morey (2017), author of The Digital Writer, digital rhetoric refers to communicating via digital means (p. 1). To expand upon this, he states in chapter two of his book that rhetoric is a necessary tool for persuasion (Morey, p. 37). So, by combining these two thought processes we can understand that digital rhetoric refers to elements of a digital artifact that are directly or indirectly used to persuade an audience.

Do you send text messages? BAM! That requires digital rhetoric. Do you engage in social media? Boom! Digital Rhetoric. Do you watch television? Pow! Digital rhetoric was involved here too.

Below is a boring video that breaks it down really slowly but really well so that you can get an even better idea of what I’m talking about.

Click here to watch!

Why is digital rhetoric important?

Morey makes it very clear that this day and age, it is difficult not to be involved with digital rhetoric because our modern world thrives off of using digital things like files, codes, computers, and other electronics in order to make some sort of a point (Morey, 2017, pp. 7-44).  However, there is a difference between knowing what digital rhetoric technically is, and using it well. Natasha Jones and Stephanie Wheeler argue that one must carefully design documents with respect to several tried and true graphic design principles such as balance, contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity (pp. 657-8.) Ultimately by considering these less obvious but crucial aspects of digital rhetoric (and more), an author is better able to communicate with their intended audience.

Douglas Eyman (2015) mentions the work of a scholar who goes beyond graphic design components by reminding us of the importance of studying rhetorical elements such as informativity (amount of new information being presented) and situationality (context) (Section 1). Although these concepts are important, there are far too many of them and they are much too complex to state them all here. Basically, if you really want to get a certain message across, take the time to make sure that message is actually heard (and properly!). Look at your work from all angles rather than from a purely linguistic standpoint.

Let’s say that I’m writing a serious blog post about the terrible impact of climate change. If I want people to take me seriously, I might cite several credible sources, include a link to Leonardo Dicaprio’s documentary Before the Flood, add a related graphic, and arrange all of these elements in a way that is pleasing to the eye rather than too cluttered or too spacious. I wouldn’t want to undermine my message by including distracting gifs of Paula Deen riding butter or by making the web page so ugly that it lands on Tosh.O.

 

What I hope to learn…

As time goes on, I hope to learn how to communicate effectively by utilizing the various elements of digital rhetoric that we cover in class. Although in other classes I learned many of the principles that we are currently covering, I have only ever applied them to things like social media mock-ups and developing a brand as opposed to working on an ongoing blog. I look forward to honing my digital rhetoric skills by having one consistent project to work on and in what I feel is a very supportive environment.
Works Cited

Eyman, Douglas. (2015). Digital Rhetoric: Theory, Method, Practice.  Ann Arbor, MI.University of Michigan Press.
Jones, N. & Wheeler, S. (2017). “Document design and social justice: A universal design for documents”. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.
Morey, Sean. (2017. The Digital Writer. Southlake, Texas: Fountainhead Press.
Sarah Yousri. (26 April 2016). Sarah Yousri on What is Digital Rhetoric. (Video File). YouTube. Retrieved 6 September, 2017 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8x4lUH0QBFo

Header Image courtesy of Viktor Hanacek 

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Courtesy of solopreneursidekick

5 Things Every Good Blogger Should Consider (A Rhetorical Analysis of Multimodal Texts)

I’m an honest person. You have stank breath? I’ll let you know. Is your underwear tucked into your skirt? I’ll tell you that too. Did I eat that entire jar of cookie butter on my own? Why yes, it was delicious, it went great with that Sparkling Rose you bought, and Grey’s Anatomy.

My honesty has gotten me into trouble on multiple occasions, yet I consider it one of my best qualities…I’m like Ned Stark with my head still on or Jon Snow without all those ugly stab wounds. Actually, they aren’t ugly. He still manages to look good with them….I mean they do sort of accentuate his abs. 

Anyway reader, I tell you this because I want you to know that I’m not being humble when I say that I have no idea how to run a good blog. None. Nada. Zilch. They say that anyone can start a blog; Bob the Builder, Jenny from the Block, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. And this may be true; starting a blog is easy enough. You enter a few details about yourself, you come up with an unique name (or an average name followed by 45712345321….) and then hit enter. BAM! You’re in; you’re officially a blogger. But does this make you a good blogger? Probably not.

You see, blogging takes more than just typing out your daily woes or creating a recipe. You’ve got to consider how things look, how they sound, how the elements on the page fit together in relationship to one another, etc etc etc. Sound boring? It would be if I continued to rattle on like this. But lucky for you, I’ve got a short attention span. So, dear reader, in order to learn more about blogging and to fulfill the requirements for my class assignment (ha! I bet you never even knew that this is what you were reading…an assignment for class) I am going to present you with the top 5 things that every good blogger should consider that I learned from analyzing the rhetoric of two exponentially more successful blogs; A Cup of Jo and The Global Grasshopper. Both are technically considered lifestyle blogs, however, The Global Grasshopper focuses on travel while A Cup of Jo covers Style, Food, Design, Travel, Relationships, and Motherhood.

1. Author:

Taken from https://cupofjo.comTaken from http://www.globalgrasshopper.com

When becoming a blogger, you have to make sure that you’re an author that seems credible.However, another thing that can make you a better author is considering likability. Joanna Goddard from A Cup of Jo is likeable because she uses language and design elements that are so relatable and cute. When you scroll down her home page you see photographs of her with her husband, her with her baby, and her with her sister. Obviously this lady is family oriented which appeals to readers’ “pathos” or emotions. Wanna know if she’s credible? Just check out her About Me Page. Here she tells you all about her work with Cosmopolitan and other famous publications. Clearly this lady knows what she’s talking about. Or at least, she presented herself in a way that makes readers think that she does.

 

Becky  from Global Grasshopper operates somewhat differently. From her About Section on the righthand side of the home page as well as the dozens of credentials, you get a sense that she wants to establish some sort of authority right off the bat. She immediately mentions an award she won, and says that she has, “joined a team of self-confessed travel snobs.” For some, this sort of language establishes credibility and makes them want to read on. For me, the credibility comes from the polished layout of the blog along with the stunning photography. She isn’t likeable in the way that Joanna is, but the language that she uses as well as the teal, black, and white colors ooze coolness. 

2.Purpose

Taken from https://cupofjo.com

Try as I may, but I couldn’t find A Cup of Jo’s purpose explicitly stated. However, by covering topics such as Style, Food, Design, Family, Relationships, and Motherhood, it is fair to say that she wants us to live a good, well-rounded life. The primarily cream and black color scheme suggests that she wants to help us do so in a way that is casual rather than high energy (like reading a newspaper in a cafe vs watching a japanese anime). The decent amount of spacing between photos and articles throughout her site also has a huge impact on the perceived purpose. Spacing between elements is the equivalent of giving someone (or something) room to breathe, and in graphic design class we were told that space means luxury. This spacing adds to the idea that she wants our lives to be as streamlined as possible; by visiting her blog we can all take a breath of fresh air and make our lives that much less messy.

Taken from http://www.globalgrasshopper.com

Global Grasshopper says that their goal is to present readers with awesome articles about “the road less travelled.” This mission is emphasized by the slew of articles that are available on the first page which have language such as “under-the-radar” and by the photos of places that most of us will never see in our lifetime. The proximity between elements is way different on this blog than A Cup of Jo; everything seems much closer together which would usually make a blog (or business) seem cheap. However, the brightness and contrast of the photos they use have been edited so that they look luxurious, thus making up for the crowded layout. This ultra-luxurious effect adds to the idea that they are discussing places that may just be out of most people’s reach, so you might as well read about them and live vicariously.

3. Audience

If you want to blog well, you need to choose a target audience and stick with it.

Screen Shot 2017-09-01 at 10.44.26 AM

A Cup of Jo is clearly intended for people in their late twenties through their thirties who are looking to settle down. Just look at the categories again and “motherhood” should jump out at you. If the target audience were teenagers, the author wouldn’t emphasize motherhood as much, if at all, because most teenagers don’t want to read about the ups and downs of having a family. The same goes with an audience older than their thirties…most middle-aged people have gone through the early stages of motherhood and don’t care to read about it. If you want more proof of how Joanna keeps her audience in mind, consider the color scheme again. It is elegant and mature, which is what people from her target audience are associated with being. Even the subjects in her photographs point to a target audience, as they themselves appear to be in that age range!

http://www.globalgrasshopper.com

In contrast, Global Grasshopper’s target audience is most likely people in their twenties who have a sense of wanderlust! They’re the one’s who don’t want to settle down yet, because there’s just so much cool stuff to see! Her photographs are instagram-worthy shots of people assumably in their twenties. She uses the same language as younger, less settled people use on a daily basis such as “hacks,” “funky,” “snob,” and “confession.”

4. Genre:

If you’re going to write a blog, you’ve got to pick a genre and stick to it. Car-buffs might not want to read about motherhood. And foodies might not care about cars.

 

As mentioned previously, A Cup of Jo and Global Grasshopper are both lifestyle blogs. However, Global Grasshopper is more accurately considered a travel blog. Establishing genre is pretty simple. Cup of Jo writes about all of the topics that I’ve mentioned previously which have to do with life. Her images, layout and language reflects these topics. Global Grasshopper writes about travelling places. Again, her images, layout and language reflects these topics. No need to beat a dead horse; just make sure everything you put on your blog compliments everything else. If you need help with this, phone a friend!

 

5. Context:

Context is super important but often neglected. Basically, you’ve got to consider the medium you’re using to communicate, the location, the historical conventions, the current culture, etc. You’ve even got to consider whether what you post fits within the context that you established via the rest of your blog.

 

Both A Cup of Jo and Global Grasshopper chose to communicate via a blog. This, in itself, has a whole bunch of advantages and limitations. Neither of them are going to write articles for people who don’t own computers because these people probably won’t be reading their blog anytime soon. However, they may write articles assuming that their audience is capable of understanding and using technology. For instance, Cup of Jo includes a video about style, knowing that this medium allows her to do so and that her followers will know how to operate this video.  Another example of considering context is on Global Grasshopper’s blog. One of her articles is on testing a new smartphone gadget that travellers may want to try. If this gadget had come out ten years ago, it would be silly to write about it because no one would care. Most people like to read and see design elements about what is happening here and now…not what already occurred (unless it is a history blog..but even then you shouldn’t use 90’s clipart).

 

Wanna learn more about what a good blog entails? Click here to check out Cup of Jo for yourself, or Click here to check out Global Grasshopper.

I do not own or claim rights to the photographs that are included in this post; they are screenshots taken from the blogs mentioned above.

Header photo courtesy of solopreneursidekick 

Disclaimer: I am not a blogging professional, or a magical guru that can solve all of your problems. I cannot be held liable for triumphs, failures, or anything else that occurred to you as a result of reading the content on my blog.

Image by me, Paige Hawk

That’s a Wrap; Finishing my Final Project

With the last week of classes just around the bend, I’m eager to tie up loose ends from my classes so that I can enjoy a month of cookie baking, yoga, movie-watching and whatever else nourishes my soul. One of these loose ends, dear reader, is the final draft of my multimodal project as well as a presentation of this final draft in class!

The incredibly wise Ron Swanson once said, “Never half ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.” At least, I’m pretty sure that’s the quote; if not then forgive me, I need to rewatch the series. It is a quote that I’ve taken to heart which is why instead of submitting fragments of an undone project in the past few weeks, I tried my best to achieve a final draft from the get-go. In other words, I whole-assed it on the first try thus leading to a minimal amount of criticism during peer editing periods. One of the criticisms that I did receive, however, is to make my project ADA friendly. Until about five minutes ago I wasn’t positive what this meant, but from my understanding it means that I should make my project user-friendly for those with disabilities. In order to achieve this, I am going to try to caption the photographs included in my project so that it can be read by pdf reading softwares for those who need to use them. Ideally I will be able to integrate this into the project itself, however, if not I will include the descriptions of the photographs below the pdf itself.

As for the presentation, I need to prepare what I’m going to say and when. I’m someone who needs to do a combination between preparing and just letting it fly the day of the presentation…If I over-prepare I trip up because it feels inauthentic and I have a young-adult-life-crisis about how I’m not presenting my true self to the world. If I under-prepare the knowledge train goes off of the tracks faster than you can say “choo choo!” In order to avoid the last scenario, I’ll stare blankly at my project while rehearsing a presentation until the words begin to make sense. In order to avoid the first scenario I won’t practice so much that the word “minimalism” begins to sound foreign.

Header image by me
(If you’re wondering how it is related, it really isn’t. But nature is calming and finals week is near, so sue me)

Designed by Paige Hawk using Canva.com

Rhetorical Situation Summary

Audience:

To quote a past post, “… I will target people ages 20-35 who are just starting out in life, and are often as overwhelmed by life as they are willing to change aspects of their identities in order to be happier. I see this age group as being the most mold-able as they are not yet set in their ways, but I also see this group as being easiest to target simply because I am a part of it and can understand and empathize with them which may influence my ability to be persuasive.” In order to persuade this audience, I know that I must consider the fact that due the world that they have grown up in (a world with things like social media) their attention span isn’t as great as previous generations. Therefore, my myth busting guide will contain short paragraphs with pretty pictures to look at in between reading the text. It will also be accessible through my blog because many people this age spend more time reading things online than in print.

 

Purpose:

The purpose of the project is to convince people that minimalism is a lifestyle that is worth looking into, as there are many benefits to it. I convey this purpose by debunking several myths associated with minimalism, as these are often what hold people back from becoming a minimalist. The myths have been sequenced so that some of the bigger myths are addressed first in order to hook people in. However, I include a big myth at the end just as one last memorable reminder of how minimalism differs from the stigmas associated with it.

 

Sources

At the end of my project I give thanks to The Minimalists because they are the major source I used for this project. I could have included a whole bunch of other links to social media posts and things I used for the other project, but A) I felt it would take away from the minimalist design and B) these other sources cite The Minimalists as being their source. The Minimalists are a good source because they’re really the authorities of the movement. In other words, the ideologies behind it come from a lot of what they’ve talked about through their blog, their books, their lectures, and their documentary.

 

Design Choices

Although one of the things I want people to know is that minimalism isn’t a “style” to achieve, I do use the minimalist idea that less is more by keeping the layout of my project simple and minimizing the amount of colors and fonts used. It is also very easy to read the text and to view the pictures; there isn’t anything to unnecessary.

 

Mode and Media

I feel that the mode and media contribute to the overall purpose and meaning conveyed. By making my project a pdf, it is easily accessible, and one can even print it out so that they can constantly remind themselves of what minimalism is if they pursue the lifestyle. By putting it on my blog, my readers can read this project and reference other blog posts that I have completed on similar topics thus giving them even more well-rounded knowledge on the topic.

 

Genre Conventions  

I really don’t feel that I’ve broken the conventions of this genre, but I think that this is okay because minimalism is all about focusing on what matters. In this case, it matters that people learn what minimalism is and isn’t, so I don’t feel that going against the grain would be very logical or “minimal”of me.

Header image by Me

3 Tips for Holiday Hosting

Thanksgiving is just around the corner thus marking the beginning of the holiday season! For those of you who flit from party to party it is a season of love, joy, fun and warmth. But for those of you who host these parties, it may be a season of stress. I’ve seen this struggle first hand; as the warden of the Thanksgiving feast and of the Christmas Eve bash, my mother spends much of the party hidden in the kitchen doing her best not to have a nervous breakdown. I’m sure that many of you can relate, or can at least think of somebody who suffers the same fate.

But what if I told you that it doesn’t have to be this way, that there are things that you can do to take some of the pressure off of you or your host so that you can enjoy the holidays rather than worry about them? Below are 3 things that you can do to make this season of cooking and cleaning a season of joy. You can thank me later 😉

  1. Don’t Procrastinate; work ahead!

Ah procrastination! It is something that plagues nearly everyone at some time or another. But when the party that you’re hosting is a day away and you’ve got a floor to mop, counters to clean, stuffing to make, and a turkey that just hasn’t thawed out? Well the only person who can be blamed for your sky-high blood pressure is you. Rather than putting off everything until last minute, make a list of the things that you can do ahead of time and get to work. If you mop the floor a week in advance, maybe all you need to do is a 5-minute dust mop before guests arrive. If you make it a point not to shove your purse, keys, mail, prescriptions, and other miscellaneous items on the counter when you get home from work, then that’s one less spot that you have to deal with later.

 

  1. Cheat!

Nowadays grocery stores offer a wide variety of fresh and frozen foods that no sane guest would turn down at a party. Some of these can be pricey (catered sushi anyone?) but some are rather reasonable. I’ve seen frozen Gorgonzola and caramelized onion cups for just $6; much less expensive than if you were to make them or a similar app yourself. Or, if you’re feeling especially relaxed, pick up some pizza bites or bagels for $3; sure they don’t scream fine dining, but your guests will devour them faster than they take to cook.

 

  1. Make it a Potluck/ Ask for Help!

One of the biggest mistakes that hosts make is assuming that they have to do it all on their own. If this is truly the case, then you need to find new friends and family, because they’re not nearly as supportive as they should be. However, most friends and family will gladly lend a helping hand if you just give them some direction. If you’re tired of cooking the entire meal, ask each of them to bring something. By spreading the responsibility, it assures that nobody feels overwhelmed and that everyone contributes their fair share. If you’re tired of facing a stack of dishes as high as the Washington Monument once the meal is done, call in the troops! With multiple people washing, drying, and putting things away, what could’ve been an hours worth of work can be done in a snap!

Header image by me

Disclaimer: I am not a blogging professional, or a magical guru that can solve all of your problems. I cannot be held liable for triumphs, failures, or anything else that occurred to you as a result of reading the content on my blog.

Project Update 3

I like to work ahead, and I’d rather spend a large chunk of time doing a project all at once than work on it in small increments. People always think that I’m insane as a result of this…they wonder how I’ve managed to complete multiple projects before they’ve even thought of an idea for one of theirs, and they ask how I can possibly have the attention span. The truth is, the reason why I can get things done within a such a seemingly short timeframe is because I know that while everyone else is rushing to get their assignments done, I’ll have time to either sit back and relax, or refine the heck out of my work. It’s as simple as that. I’d rather have one horrible day of non-stop work than multiple days of stress and being unable to focus on doing the things that I’d rather be doing. 

That is why I’ve already done a majority of what I need to do for my rough cut. I’ve written content, played with a layout for my project, and taken photos. I’ve already received feedback from friends who like what I’ve been working on, but I look forward to receiving even more feedback in the future once I’ve edited it even more. 

Header Image Taken by Me

taken by me

Final Project Storyboard

Once upon a time, I was assigned a final project, so I drafted up this chicken-scratch storyboard to help me out. As someone who is used to either producing things organically as opposed to planning them, or keeping all of my ideas inside of my head until execution time, it was a strange process. However, if for some reason I forget what I would like to do (which happens now and then), the little sketches below will help me out. The sketches in themselves look boring but I know that with some snazzy photos and good choice of typography, I can achieve the look that I want. I’m going for a look similar to that of Marc Jacobs advertisements in Teen Vogue when I was a teen; the content always captured my attention because it was so simple compared to the others that simply tried too hard. I don’t want my work to be loud or overcrowded. I want to use the minimalist mindset of less is more during the design phase of this project.

Storyboard by me

Header image by me

Update 1: Bippity Boppity Brainstorm

In Cinderella it was so swell how the fairy godmother was able to wave her wand and turn a sloppy sad girl into the epitome of a princess. I suppose we all wish that we had that power, the power to magically achieve all of life’s dreams by doing practically nothing. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. If you want to get anything done you’ve got to work hard and think it through. That is why this weekend I Bippity-Boppity brainstormed various details regarding my final project.

Because I am going to make a myth-busting lifestyle guide, the first logical step was to brainstorm myths. So far I have 6, which I think is a good amount, but I may try to either decrease it to 5 because that is such a nice number, or increase it for the sake of having more content. That being said, I don’t want this guide to be huge; I know that I personally would get discouraged from reading something if it had too many pages.

I’ve also brainstormed how I’m going to go about busting these myths, and what images I can integrate into the design. In a magical land I’d have a gorgeous minimalist house or space that I could go to take pictures in! But in reality, I’ll probably take most of the pictures in my bedroom because it is the most appealing spot into our small house to take photographs. I also want the photographs to all have a similar look and vibe so limiting myself to taking the photographs within one space will help with this. I will use photoshop to touch up the pictures that I take; it is a medium that I have grown increasingly comfortable with throughout the years. However, I will use canva.com for the actual construction of the guide because it is much more user friendly and has tons of cool design elements at your finger-tips!

Header image courtesy of Viktor Hanacek at picjumbo.com

Project Planning to Avoid Past Predicaments

With Halloween just around the corner I can’t stop thinking about pumpkins, witches, ghosts, and of course…the final project for my digital rhetoric class. Obviously the last item on this list is the most exciting, as I am going to have to create my very own multimodal artifact..gasp! I’ve done a good number of these in the past, some of which were so embarrassing (particularly high school group-project ones)  I have no idea how they saw the light of day. Don’t believe me? Click here, skip the first 30 seconds or so where we couldn’t get the music to work, and share in my mortification. It’s so bad that if you watch it, I’ll instantaneously start convulsing wherever I’m at.

In order to avoid looking back on your work and wanting to crawl into a hole, you should understand that the planning process for complex projects is super important; you can’t just wing it and hope for the best. Garbage like the obesity video from high school is what happens when you just wing it. It is a waste of time to put projects out into the universe that are so terrible that they aren’t persuasive…and no matter what your intentions were, if you don’t portray important topics well you may come across as being ignorant.

For my multimodal project I think I’ll continue with the theme of examining the minimalist lifestyle. After the last project (which can be found here) I learned that arguments that promote minimalism typically occur via still graphics with text, or videos that contain a first person point of view. I discovered that many of the arguments are made by either encouraging others to give the minimalist lifestyle a try in order to see what it is all about, such is the case with Pinterest Posts that have quotes or even challenges, or by sharing one’s first hand experience with minimalism via Youtube. Essentially, what the movement boils down to is clearing the physical and mental clutter from one’s life. How extreme you choose to be when you take on this task is up to you.

Because I’ve found that the people who promote minimalism sometimes come across as being extremists, I hope to create an artifact that makes minimalism seem like a realistic possibility as opposed to a crazy, far-fetched lifestyle. I think that I will target people ages 20-35 who are just starting out in life, and are often as overwhelmed by life as they are willing to change aspects of their identities in order to be happier. I see this age group as being the most mold-able as they are not yet set in their ways, but I also see this group as being easiest to target simply because I am a part of it and can understand and empathize with them which may influence my ability to be persuasive.

I know what makes many of them tick; I know the struggles that they have and I’d like to, for lack of better words, prey upon these things in order to have an argument that is worth listening to. For instance, many of us are deep in debt because we’ve gone to college, but we are pressured to have the same relatively expensive lifestyles as our parents and grandparents had…lives that focused on consumerism and striving for the American Dream of working working working so you can get rich and buy more stuff. I feel that a lot of us in the age group defined above recognize that replicating our family members’ lives is either unattainable, or not worth it, but we don’t feel comfortable (or maybe we don’t know how) to live any other way. That is where I come in…I want to show others that by practicing minimalism one can live a happier life. To do this, I think that I’ll develop a 10-15 day minimalist “challenge” that I will film myself completing. It will be a challenge that is realistic, and that encourages others to pick and choose minimalist ideologies that help them feel happier and less stressed.

Header image Courtesy of Viktor Hanacek

Courtesy of Viktor Hanacek at Picjumbo

Yelling to No One: Escaping the Echo-Chamber, or Taking Advantage of it.

Unless you’ve been living in a soundproof box your entire life, you’ve probably had a disagreement with somebody. It may have been over something as silly as whether or not ketchup belongs on eggs or whether Amelia Earhart really crashed her plane or became a government spy instead. But the arguments that really stick with us, the ones that grind our gears to the point of wanting to throw something across the room aren’t the ones that we perceive as trivial; they are the ones that challenge our most strongly held beliefs, the beliefs that define who we are and what we live for. Scholar Jim Corder summarizes these beliefs by explaining that,  “each of us creates the narrative that he or she is” (p.16). In other words, we listen to some things, ignore others, and craft our beliefs, experiences, expectations, values, etc. based on what we choose to perceive and how we perceive it. Ultimately the narrative that we create is our identity, and arguments become more than a display of evidence, but a reflection of who we are. Because of this, scholars such as Joe Moxley suggest that when we attempt to argue with someone whose point of view differs from our own, they often feel threatened (Moxley).

The problem that occurs when our narrative is threatened is that we have a tendency to ignore what our perceived opponents have to say (Moxley). For example, if someone identifies as being pro-life and is protesting outside of an abortion clinic, they most likely won’t listen to a pro-choice woman who claims that the child she is carrying is a result of an abusive relationship, and that by getting an abortion she is saving that child from a life of abuse. On the flip side, if a pro-choice woman is passing by a group of pro-life protesters and they make their case, she’ll most likely pass by them without a second glance, or feign listening when in reality is is too angry to hear them out. Because people stick to their beliefs like gum to shoe soles, scholars have come up with suggestions as to how one can increase their chances of changing another’s  perspective various issues. For our final project in Digital Rhetoric, I will use several of the tactics that are discussed below in order to influence my ability to be persuasive.

Moxley suggests that when crafting an argument, we must make sure that our audience feels as though their point of view is valid, understood, and not all that different from our own (Moxley). When done well, I feel that this could be very effective because it makes one feel like they are listening to “one of their own” while sneakily introducing opposing ideologies. In other words, it is the difference between ambushing your enemy and having a fireside chat with them, or the difference between me making an accusatory Youtube video for my final project and making something that is powerful in a less aggressive way. I imagine that this tactic as outlined by Moxley isn’t the easiest to execute because some values and beliefs are polar opposites of one another. I mean, I’d have a really difficult time calmly talking with Hitler and saying that his beliefs are understood and okay but that maybe he should lay off of killing people. In other words, there are some arguments that I feel could be dangerous to validate.

Jim Corder admits that he has no idea how to guarantee that someone will listen to another’s argument, but he has some suggestions. Similarly to the Moxley, he says that one should not take an authoritarian approach towards crafting an argument (Corder p. 29). Rather than pretending to be all-knowing about a topic and shoving beliefs down an audience’s throat, one must tactfully introduce one’s argument in a non-confrontational manner. This is a tactic that I am likely to use, as my personality type prevents me from responding well to anything that can be perceived as either egotistical or aggressive, and I imagine that others might feel the same way.  Corder also says that the argument we craft should not merely be a result of thoughts that appeared in our brains, but a result of study and research (p.29). This is important to note because many of us live in our own bubbles and, as ignorant as we may be, we refuse to learn the facts and logic behind the things that we wish to argue outside of the knowledge that we believe we have. In order to establish a sense of ethos, I think that at least some research should go into creating my final project.

Rebecca Solnit has a completely different opinion from Corder and Moxley. She says that we are so focused on convincing people to buy our argument, that we forget the value of sharing our argument with those who already agree with us (Solnit, p. 1). According to her, what we need to focus on instead of converting people is on getting the people who share our beliefs to be committed to a cause and to take action (Solnit, p. 2). I understand how satisfying and empowering it can be to speak into an echo-chamber. And I do feel that sometimes we focus too much on arguing as opposed to getting things done. However, unless we have the courage to confront those with differing opinions, we will constantly comes across dead ends. For instance, if 5 people manage to get a bill into law that puts a cap on acceptable factory emissions, they may feel as though they’re working towards eliminating climate change. And maybe they are. But if the rest of the world feels that these five are full of crap and refuse to change their climate-killing behavior, then the small victory of the 5 climate change believers won’t matter in the long run. I suppose that what I am ultimately saying is that there must be a balance between persuading others to take action, and inspiring others to share your point of view. I’m not yet sure whether I want my final project to be more motivational or inspirational, but I will certainly consider the benefits of each as well as the tactics that can be used to achieve each as discussed above.

Works Cited

Corder, J. (1985, Sept). “Argument as Emergence, Rhetoric as Love,.” Rhetoric Review Vol. 4 No. 1. Pp 16-32.

Moxley, J. (2010,December 17). “Rogerian Argument.” Retrieved from https://writingcommons.org/index.php/open-text/genres/academic-writing/arguments/318-rogerian-argument
Solnit, R. (2017, Nov). “Preaching to the Choir.” Harper’s Magazine. Retrieved from https://harpers.org/archive/2017/11/preaching-to-the-choir/

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