All this talk about technology and the social media has really got me thinking about how much it really is having an effect on our lives. While it enables quicker and easier access for information, communication and learning, it does not come without negative side effects. Not only may it be contributing to a shift in the way our brain and thought process works, but it is also changing the way in which we communicate with one another in our daily lives.
As I walked down Main St on my way to class this morning, I payed extra attention to all the people walking around me. Almost everyone I saw had their faces buried in their phones or their ears stuffed with IPod earplugs. As I watched them, I noticed that even people who were walking to class “together”, were not speaking, but instead were busy typing away on their smartphones. The advancements in technology and increases in social media use have allowed for people to be able to block out or ignore the reality of the world going on around them. I attempted to smile at a passerby, but my gesture went unnoticed because the other person was so engulfed in whatever they were doing on their phone. However, I won’t act innocent and say a similar experience hasn’t happened to me in the reverse way. For example, I have walked to class blasting my music and was therefore unable to hear my friend calling my name numerous times to try and catch my attention and say hi. Technology, the Internet, and everything attached to it is decreasing our communication skills and making communication less personal. Instead of your friend telling you what they are doing or how they are feeling, you may read about it in their tweet or Facebook status instead. In addition, it is now necessary to compete with technology for the attention of people. I have been in situations before where I am trying to tell my friend a story and I notice that instead of fully listening, they are reading twitter while I hope, at least half listening and paying attention to what I am saying.
Technology has the capability to suck you in, and its consequences can be dangerous. The effects it is causing and will continue to cause regarding our interactions and what/how much we pay attention to things, can have far reaching affects on our both our communication skills and relationship creation and maintenance. This, in turn, will change not only the effort we have to put into capturing the audience’s attention and keeping it, but also the way in which we converse and connect with one another. This is a perfect example of why learning about, analyzing and interpreting technology and media in schools is not only important, but necessary in this day and age.
In Knoblauch’s Literacy and the Politics of Education, literacy and its perceived definitions and importance in our world today is discussed. Labels like being “illiterate” and “literate” hold many different definitions and varying perspectives, but hold meaning related to judgment, importance, and power in society. There is an agreement, among the literate (ironically) that there is a necessity for literacy, and that the illiterate cannot successfully participate in human progress. This assumption is due to society’s mediated vision of the way things ought to be. This claim that the illiterate cannot successfully participate in human progress gives off an impression that illiterate people are barbarians…or are worthless.
While I commend Knoblauch for pointing out the importance of acknowledging that individuals can change the way we know things to be, and that people “measured positively” by their literacy “enjoy their privileges because of their power to choose and apply that instrument on their own behalf”, he follows up with a questioning statement, explaining that the literate’s enjoyed privileges have nothing to do with their development or worthiness.
I agree that opportunities knock for the literate because we apply ourselves, choose to educate ourselves, go to college, to apply for a job, ect. . It is our ability of being able to speak, read and write that enables us to be in a position of power, and make a choice about whether to take advantage of opportunities, but it is important to consider that the aspect of worthiness contributes to being able to take advantage of these “privileges”. For example, we are only seen worthy of a job if we have the knowledge and experience that goes along with it. Creating a hypothetical situation, imagine that you were doing a group interview for a job at a local business firm. In your group of prospective applicants, there were many highly educated people surrounding you and one who had never gone to college, or even a trade school. If you didn’t get the job because you lost it to someone who was literate, I’m sure you would be disappointed but you would most likely coincide the reason for you not getting the job to be because people had higher qualifications than you, or were more worthy. However, what if it was the person who you deemed as illiterate who got the job? Would you not see yourself as more worthy of the position than them? My guess is that you would; I know that is how I’d perceive it if it was me. It would be expected that the firm would associate education and literacy with worthiness for the job. There is a sense that the illiterate is in an inferior position compared to the superior well educated. Literacy is intrinsically tied to worth. The illiterate applicant is clearly trying to apply themselves towards some sorts of progression by trying to create an income and increase their lifestyle, however they are denied that opportunity.
Human progression, survival, and success have more to do with than being literate, voicing choices and applying oneself. American culture has been constructed to recognize reading and writing abilities with how worthy you are to receive privileges, and have a say in the construction of our world.
Rhetoric often influences our perception of the way we view reality. Our views on what we see as a problem and how we choose to go about acting about it are often influenced by the use of rhetoric. Recently, when reading the University of Delaware’s thereview, I noticed an issue of rhetoric in the way it talked about our school in terms of sustainability. It struck me as important because since rhetoric has the power to influence our reality, it is critical that our views are being shaped off accurate information. The Review featured an expose on the University of Delaware and recycling. If you visit the University of Delaware’s sustainability website at http://www.udel.edu/sustainability/, you will notice the emphasis on how “ Sustainability is inherently rooted in the core principles of the University of Delaware”. The web page goes on to explain their different sustainable and eco-friendly efforts, including a link purely about recycling efforts (http://www.udel.edu/sustainability/doing/doing_action_recycling.html).
Here is where the issue of rhetoric vs. reality comes into play. According to the expose, Delaware promotes and claims to recycle but they don’t. For example, the dining services people and workers who cater university events were told to put the recycling bins out, but were also informed that it did not matter what garbage is put where because it is all going to the same place anyway. On the webpage, UD uses rhetoric to frame their recycling efforts in a way that put them in a positive light, but they are deceitfully leaving out points, such that they don’t actually follow through with what they claim to be doing. This resonates with one of the long term debates about whether or not rhetoric is deceitful. In this case, our school was using rhetoric to emphasize their sustainability efforts when in fact, they are lacking and we are being lied to. The website states “The University of Delaware contains an extensive recycling network, providing the campus community—faculty, students and staff—the ability to recycle a range of material. Recycling containers are available at residence, dining and administrative buildings.” However, the reality to this rhetoric is that the campus only provides us with recycling bins and the ability to THINK we are recycling, even when we aren’t. If the University really cared about sustainability there would be workers standing at the dining hall recycle bins to make sure kids are actually putting their waste into the right bin. And the garbage in the bins would matter because the recycling materials would not be going to the same place the rest of the trash is. The University of Delaware has schemed the public by using rhetoric in a way that distorts our view of reality. I believe it to be unacceptable that UD frames themselves as advocating a sustainable campus when it clearly is not important to them. They are more concerned with their image then with their actions.
Using rhetoric in a situation that does not yield truth can have many consequences. For example, the University may no longer be able to be seen as a credible source and may have future problems when it comes to trying to create a positive image for themselves or influencing others to hold similar views they hold. This expose also emphasizes the important in the audience being knowledgeable and not just necessarily believing everything that they hear just because it is coming from someone of power. This expose has taught me that we must not be naïve and that it is important to research things for ourselves and have our own findings to back up what is being claimed so that this dissonance in what is perceived, and what is actually occurring can be avoided in the future. If we want sustainability to be seen as important, we must not only say it is, but act like it too.
As the United States is an increasingly visually oriented society, it is important to think about the rhetoric of display, “rhetorical analysis focused on visual or representational” rhetoric, in terms of how much our advanced technology in today’s day and age is actually rhetorical.
Although some could argue that Facebook has caused demise in writing ability, I actually think it helps increase skills. For example, when we make a status on Facebook, half our purpose for posting it is to express our thoughts or feelings, but the other purpose is to get comments from your Facebook friends. By how many people like or comment your status, you can, in a rhetorical sense, get to know your audience by having an understanding of what your friends see as important and pay attention to, and what they don’t care about at all. A learning process is instilled within this action because next time we post a status or something on Facebook, we can re-word things or choose what we decide to post based on what we think our Facebook audience (friends) can relate to. An important aspect of rhetoric is gaining the attention from your audience by understanding them. By experimenting with and exploring what kind of reactions your friends give to different types of posts, this rhetorical goal of knowing your audience and how to best effectively speak to them can be achieved.
Another rhetorical based application on the Internet is Klout. Klout is an application or website that measures your social influence. It provides you with a full list of your interactions based on things like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linked in, Google+ and YouTube. You can see how each interaction impacts your Klout score, or overall influence. For example, Klout can show you a Facebook conversation you had and tell you how many people you “engaged” in a comment.
Recently, when applying for a communications based internship, the application asked for my Klout Score. Measuring our rhetorical influence is of high value in today’s world and can even help you land a job.
More generally speaking, even the structure of websites can be found to be rhetorical. For example, Facebook tracks its users and then puts up advertisements on the home page that are based on previous clicks or websites the user has visited. These advertisements can become very distracting and are structured to keep our attention from staying on one thing for too long. This is easily comparable to a rhetor trying to get to know their audience and then using that knowledge to get their attention. In addition, the way we structure blog websites center around the rhetorical aspect of the need to be an effective speaker. When making this blog, Professor McCamley had the class read a blog post about how to be a “pro blogger”. Examples include structuring your blog in ways to pull the reader in, having a logical arrangement, and having the post be both persuasive and credible. All of these tips relate directly to rhetorical principles of logos, ethos, and audience.
Visual based technology is rhetorical in both is structure and its usage. It is because of these technological advances that have allowed people to become more aware of their influence upon others, and use it for their advantage. In addition, it helps us increase our rhetorical knowledge by providing us with media-based ways to see the effect our method of communication is having on the people around us.