Using your knowledge of the various rhetorical techniques we’ve been
discussing in class, perform a rhetorical analysis of “Stop Googling Let’s
Talk.” Identify the main claims/goals of the author and the means by
which the author tries to achieve those goals. Consider audience, modes of
argumentation, style and language, various appeals, etc. as well as
identifying and critiquing any fallacies you think you find. Close with an
evaluation of how effective or not you think the piece is as argument and
with your own personal view on the topic. Below are some questions to
ask yourself and some structural components. This is a not an outline; in
other words, you are not expected to follow this exact order or answer all
these questions. Some will be relevant, some will not; there may be overlap
between points; there may be other questions you come up with on your
Length: 1000 words
Quotes: You must incorporate at least three quotes from the text. Make
sure you have these connected to your own words!
• introduce writer, speech, main claim, audience, and context
• provide a brief overview listing some of the techniques you found
Who is the author? What is their background? How does this information affect
your reading of the text? Does the author tell you anything directly about
themself? Why might the author have done this? Do they have any expertise on
Why is this topic being addressed? What is going on in the world, country,
locality, culture, etc. to make this a topic of interest?
To whom does the author seem to be speaking? What beliefs does the author
assume the audience shares? Where and how does the author make these
What is the medium? A print article? A blog? A speech? How does the medium affect
what can and cannot be done by the author? What limits or opportunities are
presented by the medium for both the author and the audience? What expectations
might the audience have based on the medium?
5. Main claims
What is the piece about, and more importantly, what preciselyis the author trying to
accomplish or convey? The piece might be “about” the Iraq War, but don’t stop
there. Is the author arguing that the war was a strategic error from the start, the
war was a good and necessary strategic move, but mismanagement led to
failure/only partial success, or the war was a good, necessary move that reached its
* The above points 1-5 should take up only one or two introductory paragraphs
6. rhetorical techniques
What appeals are used (emotional, logos, etc.)
What logical arguments/facts are presented?
Where do the facts come from? Are sources named? Are they credible?
What underlying assumptions are presumed by the author? Do they assume,
for instance, that the audience agrees that “all people should be treated the
same”? Or that “Free speech is a priority”? Ex: A claim might be that the
current president should not be elected because he/she has done a horrible
job with the economy. The supporting facts might be unemployment rates,
GDP etc. The underlying assumption(often unstated) is that presidents have a
direct impact on the economy.
Are the author’s interpretations of accepted facts logical based on what you
know? Can they be challenged at all?
Does the author deal with any counter-arguments? How and how
Does the author make any concessions to counter-arguments or to different
interpretations? Look for key phrases such as “It is true that . . .“ or “While X
argues correctly that . . . “ or “Another interpretation might be . . . “ etc.
Does the author appeal to emotion anywhere? How—image, story?
How effective are such appeals? Why?
Do the authors present any information that would convince the reader they
can be trusted on this particular topic, that they bring any expertise to it
Do they cite any experts beyond themselves, any appeals to authority?
Does their style, tone, vocabulary choice have an impact on the Ethos of the
How is the piece and its arguments organized/arranged? Does the structure have
any impact? How/why?
What is the style and tone of language? Formal, conversational, angry, accusatory,
humorous etc. How does this fit the author’s purpose and context beyond ethos?
Does it work for the author or hinder their goal?
Any other strategies . . . .
7. Fallacies: Identify any fallacies ifthey exist (slippery slope, ad hominem, etc.)
How effective is the persuasive piece and why?
Stop Googling. Let’s Talk. By SHERRY TURKLES EPT. 26, 2015 NY Times
Ten years ago, Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone. Today, thanks to him, we can sit in parks
and summon all the world's knowledge with a few taps of our thumbs, listen to virtually every song
ever recorded and communicate instantaneously with everyone we know.
More than two billion people around the world, now have this magic at their fingertips – and
it's changing the way we do countless things, from taking photos to summoning taxis. But smartphones
have also changed our natures in elemental ways, reshaping the way we think and interact. For all their
many conveniences, it is here, in the way they have changed not just industries but people themselves,
that the smartphone shows its dark side.
The evidence goes beyond the carping of Luddites. It's there, cold and hard, in a growing body
of research by psychiatrists, neuroscientists, marketers and public health experts. What their research
shows is that smartphones are causing real damage to our minds and relationships.
Peddling this addiction have made some people crazily rich. But smartphones have also
impaired our ability to remember. They make it more difficult to daydream and think creatively. They
make us more vulnerable to anxiety. They make parents ignore their children.
Consider this: In the first five years of the smartphone era, the proportion of Americans who
said internet use interfered with their family time nearly tripled, from 11 per cent to 28 per cent. And
this: Smartphone use takes about the same cognitive toll as losing a full night's sleep. In other words,
they are making us worse at being alone and worse at being together.
In a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center, 89 percent of cellphone owners said they had used
their phones during the last social gathering they attended. But they weren’t happy about it; 82 percent
of adults felt that the way they used their phones in social settings hurt the conversation.
I’ve been studying the psychology of online connectivity for more than 30 years. I’ve looked at
families, friendships and romance. I’ve studied schools, universities and workplaces. For the past five
years, I’ve had a special focus: What has happened to face-to-face conversation in a world where so
many people say they would rather text than talk? When college students discuss this with me, some
refer to a “rule of three.” In a conversation among five or six people at dinner, you have to check that
three people are paying attention — heads up — before you give yourself permission to look down at
your phone. So conversation proceeds, but with different people having their heads up at different
times. The effect is what you would expect: Conversation is kept relatively light, on topics where
people feel they can drop in and out.
Young people speak enthusiastically about the rule of three, which you can follow not only during
meals but all the time. There is the magic of the always available “elsewhere.” You can put your
attention wherever you want it to be. You can always be heard. You never have to be bored. When you
sense that a lull in the conversation is coming, you can shift your attention from the people in the room
to the world on your phone. But the students also described a sense of loss.
One 15-year-old I interviewed talked about her reaction when she went out to dinner with her
father and he took out his phone to add “facts” to their conversation. “Dad,” she said, “stop Googling. I
want to talk to you.” A 15-year-old boy told me that someday he wanted to raise a family, but not the
way his parents are raising him, with phones out during meals and in the park and during his school
The digital drift affecting families shows up in national statistics. The Center for the Digital
Future, an American think tank, found that between 2006 and 2011, the average number of hours
American families spent together per month dropped by nearly a third, from 26 to about 18.
Distracted parents may even be putting their children at risk of physical harm, Dr. SteinerAdair says. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control found a 12-per-cent spike in injuries to children
under 5 between 2007 and 2010, after a long decline. The years coincide with the infancy of the
Being connected to everyone all the time makes us less attentive to the people we care about most.
It’s a powerful insight. Studies show that when two people are talking, the mere presence of a phone
on a table even in the periphery of their vision changes both what they talk about and the degree of
connection they feel. People keep the conversation on topics where they won’t mind being interrupted.
They don’t feel as invested in each other. Even a silent phone disconnects us.
In 2010, psychologist Sara Konrath put together the findings of 72 studies conducted over a 30year period. They found a 40 percent decline in empathy among college students, with most of the
decline taking place after 2000.
Across generations, technology is implicated in this assault on empathy. We’ve gotten used to
being connected all the time, but we have found ways around conversation — at least from
conversation that is open-ended and spontaneous, in which we play with ideas and allow ourselves to
be fully present and vulnerable. But it is in this type of conversation — where we learn to make eye
contact, to become aware of another person’s posture and tone, to comfort one another and respectfully
challenge one another — that empathy and intimacy flourish. In these conversations, we learn who we
Of course, we can find empathic conversations today, but the trend is clear. It’s not only that we
turn away from talking face to face to chat online. It’s that we don’t allow these conversations to
happen in the first place because we keep our phones in the landscape. We face a significant choice. It
is not about giving up our phones but about using them with greater intention.
As with so much else in life, moderation in our digital world should be the hallmark of a healthy
relationship with technology. Too many of us have become slaves to the devices that were supposed to
free us, giving us more time to experience life and the people we love. Instead, we’re constantly
bombarded by bells, buzzes and chimes that alert us to messages we feel compelled to view and
respond to immediately.
“Most people now check their smartphones 150 times per day, or every six minutes,” psychologist
Ann Colier wrote. “And young adults are now sending an average of 110 texts per day.”
One teacher observed that the students “sit in the dining hall and look at their phones. When they
share things, it’s what is on their phones.” Is this the new conversation? The old conversation taught
empathy. These students seem to understand each other less.
But we are resilient. The psychologist Yalda T. Uhls led a 2014 study of children at a device-free
outdoor camp. After five days without phones or tablets, campers were able to read facial emotions and
correctly identify emotions of actors in videotaped scenes significantly better than a control group.
What fostered these new empathic responses? They talked to one another. In conversation, things go
best if you pay close attention and learn how to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. This is easier to
do without your phone in hand. Conversation is the most human and humanizing thing that we do.
The campers also spoke about their new taste for life away from the online feed, for being “on
their own”. In solitude we find ourselves; if we don’t know how to be alone, we’ll only know how to
Now though, we turn time alone into a problem that needs to be solved with technology. Timothy
D. Wilson, a psychologist at the University of Virginia, led a team that explored our capacity for
solitude. People were asked to sit in a chair and think, without a device or a book. They were told that
they would have from six to 15 minutes alone and that the only rules were that they had to stay seated
and not fall asleep. In one experiment, many student subjects opted to give themselves mild electric
shocks rather than sit alone with their thoughts.
There is an essential connection between solitude and conversation. In solitude we learn to
concentrate and imagine, to listen to ourselves. We need these skills to be fully present in conversation.
Some of the most crucial conversations you will ever have will be with yourself. Slow down
sufficiently to make this possible. And make a practice of doing one thing at a time. This is hard,
because it means asserting ourselves over what technology makes easy and what feels productive. But
this is an illusion.
Weaning ourselves away from our phones will have other benefits beyond better conversations
and more connectivity. Sometimes the connectivity itself is an issue.
It's bad enough that today's children are over-monitored and over-sheltered. But it no longer has
geographical boundaries. For that you can thank the smartphone.
Think of the phone as the eternal umbilicus. Even in college students are in contact with their
parents several times a day One way we grow up is by internalizing an image of Mom and Dad and the
values and advice they imparted over the early years. Then, whenever we find ourselves faced with
uncertainty or difficulty, we call on that internalized image. We become, in a way, all the wise adults
we've had the privilege to know. "But phones keep kids from figuring out what to do," says
psychiatrist Mark Anderegg. "They've never internalized any images; all they've internalized is
He believes reliance on smartphones also undermines the young by destroying the ability to plan
ahead. "The first thing students do when they walk out the door of my classroom is use the phone.
Ninety-five percent of the conversations go like this: 'Just got out of class; see you in the library in
five minutes.' Absent the phone, you'd have to make arrangements ahead of time; you'd have to think
ahead." It's in the setting of goals and progress in working toward them, however mundane they are,
that positive feelings are generated. From such everyday activity, resistance to depression is born.
Smartphones--along with the instant availability of information and almost any consumer
good/service your heart desires--promote fragility. "You get used to things happening right away," says
sociologist Neil Carducci. “You not only want the pizza or that song title or that shirt now, you
generalize that expectation to other things, like friendship and relationships. You become frustrated
and impatient easily. You become unwilling to work out problems.”
In other words, our ability through technology to always be online, to always be “connected”
makes it less likely for us to do the things to maintain those connections, or to handle it when those
connections fray even a little, cause us a little bit of embarrassment or awkwardness or discomfort. Or,
god forbid, boredom.
Yes, people are always put off by the strange power of new technologies. Socrates thought
writing would melt the brains of Athenian youths by undermining their ability to memorize. Erasmus
cursed the "swarm of new books" plaguing post-Gutenberg Europe. In its infancy, TV was derided as a
But unlike TVs and desktop computers, which are typically relegated to a den or home office,
smartphones go with us everywhere. And they know us. The stories that pop up in your iPhone
newsfeed and your social media apps are selected by algorithms to grab your eye.That's why you can't
Socrates was wrong about writing and Erasmus was wrong about books. But after all, the boy
who cried wolf was eaten in the end. And in smartphones, our brains may have finally met their match.
If we have lost control over our relationship with smartphones, it is by design. In fact, the
business model of the devices demands it. Because most popular websites and apps don't charge for
access, the internet is financially sustained by eyeballs. That is, the longer and more often you spend
staring at Facebook or Google, the more money they can charge advertisers.
To ensure that our eyes remain firmly glued to our screens, our smartphones – and the digital
worlds they connect us to – internet giants have become little virtuosos of persuasion, cajoling us into
checking them again and again – and for longer than we intend. Average users look at their phones
about 150 times a day, according to some estimates, and about twice as often as they think they do,
according to a 2015 study by British psychologists. .
Add it all up and North American users spend somewhere between three and five hours a day
looking at their smartphones. That means over the course of an average lifetime, most of us will spend
about seven years immersed in our portable computers.
These companies have persuaded us to give over so much of our lives by exploiting a handful
of human frailties. One of them is called novelty bias. It means our brains are suckers for the new. As
the McGill neuroscientist Daniel Levitin explains, we're wired this way to survive. In the infancy of
our species, novelty bias kept us alert to dubious red berries and the growls of sabre-toothed tigers. But
now it makes us twig helplessly to Facebook notifications and the buzz of incoming e-mail. That's why
social media apps nag you to turn notifications on. They know that once the icons start flashing onto
your lock screen, you won't be able to ignore them. It's also why Facebook switched the colour of its
notifications from a mild blue to attention-grabbing red.
Part of the reason we're so curious about those notifications is that people are desperately
insecure and crave positive feedback with a kneejerk desperation. Instagram exploits this craving by
strategically withholding "likes" from certain users. If the photo-sharing app decides you need to use
the service more often, it'll show only a fraction of the likes you've received on a given post at first,
hoping you'll be disappointed with your haul and check back again in a minute or two. They're tying in
to your greatest insecurities.
Some of the mental quirks smartphones exploit are obvious, others counterintuitive. The
principle of "variable rewards" falls into the second camp. Discovered by psychologist B.F. Skinner in
a series of experiments on rats and pigeons, it predicts that creatures are likelier to seek out a reward if
they aren't sure how often it will be doled out. Pigeons, for example, were found to peck a button for
food more frequently if the food was dispensed inconsistently rather than reliably each time. So it is
with social media apps: Though four out of five Facebook posts may be inane, the "bottomless,"
automatically refreshing feed always promises a good quip or bit of telling gossip just below the
threshold of the screen, accessible with the rhythmic flick of thumb on glass. Likewise the hungry need
to check email with every inbox buzz.
Psychologists Howard Gardner and Katie Davis call today’s generation the “app generation,”
which grew up with pho ...
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