What is rhetoric? If one were to mention rhetoric in a conversation I would assume I know what they mean. However, if I were to be asked to define rhetoric I am not sure I could have given a sufficient definition or explanation. I had always dismissed learning about what rhetoric was; I thought that because I knew what a rhetorical question was I knew what rhetoric was, through reading however I learned that rhetoric was more than just a sarcastic way to inform someone.
Through analyzing the assigned readings I came to have a closer understanding of rhetoric. Rhetoric is a use of language to impart knowledge or inform people about a specific topic or event. Rhetoric has a series of concepts that it embodies that enabled me to grasp what rhetoric strives to do. The rhetoric concepts are: ethos, pathos, logos, arrangement, audience, and rhetorical situation. Now ethos, pathos, and logos were all words that were used in my Sophomore Classical Civilizations course, and I realized that I was able to make it through the entire course without knowing a thing about them. Upon further reading I found that ethos is the “controlling factor in persuasion”, pathos is “the proof of emotion” or the appeal to the values of the audience; and logos is the proofs based in logic and reasoning. These three are all main aspects of rhetoric, and explain how rhetoric is conveyed to the audience. The other aspects, though important, are less commonly taught. Arrangement refers to how the text is organized, audience tells about the people who are written to, and how to go about capturing their attention; and rhetorical situation is the situation that has called for rhetoric to be needed in the first place.
Rhetoric is used to impart virtues on the audience. Specifically: honesty, knowledge, rationality, tolerance, judgement, and intellectual courage. The virtue of honesty teaches that one should not hold too tight to their preconceived notions, and to be open to one’s best understanding of what is true. Knowledge strives to make sure that one is informed about the subject that is being discussed or argued, and that if they even if they are well informed one should listen carefully and study the matter in order to obtain more knowledge. Rationality teaches reflection, evidence and reasoning before one should make an argument; tolerance teaches people to be open to other people’s opinions and arguments, especially if they differ from your own. Judgement/wisdom asks that those involved pick and choose their battles, and urges them to reflect and understand what is worth arguing to them (something my Mother has often talked to me about). And intellectual courage urges those to speak their argument even if their opinion is unpopular.
Rather than give definition however, Herick approaches rhetoric in a different way. The reading by Herick goes a bit further into the topic of rhetoric. Instead of defining what rhetoric is by breaking it into definitions and pieces Herick addresses rhetoric as a whole. He talks about how almost anything that we encounter in our lives can be rhetoric. He refers to “symbols” and says that a symbol is anything that conveys to a person some sort of meaning/information. These symbols, whether it be a person, place, or thing all are “usually” a part of a larger system; and this larger system is conveying a deeper meaning to us through these symbols. This argument allows Herick to make rhetoric seem like a much bigger part of life than I, for one, had ever assumed it to be; after reading his work I felt like the world around me was more connected.
Multimedia rhetoric is not disconnected from rhetoric, rather it is a different way to communicate the deeper meanings and virtues that rhetoric strives to deliver to its audiences. However, instead of being spoken or written, multimedia rhetoric conveys its message through photos, videos, or any other various media outlets/sources. The internet gives great outlets for these messages as well, whenever you watch a Youtube video, or read an article that your annoying Aunt posted on Facebook you are receiving a message. Multimedia rhetoric has adapted to reach a wider audience in a shorter amount of time, but still being able to convey a strong message. An added bonus to this form of rhetoric is its permanence; once something is on the internet it there for good, this is something we should have all learned by now. So now the message will live on the internet forever, for future generations, viewers, and audience members to view and learn from.
While I believe that multimedia rhetoric is a great and powerful way to convey a great message to its audiences because of its permanence, I also see this as a downfall. These symbols are meant to convey virtues and a positive message that will better society and people as a whole; that being said, there is almost always people who will use misuse a new resource. Sure, the internet is a great and easy way to get a message out; that being said it is also very easy to do the same with a bad message. In 2016 already we have seen massive events where multimedia is polluted with false, misleading, or bad information. Whether it be a bad message, or a message with good intentions that has been manipulated, the internet is a place where things can get twisted. My concern lies in the fact that multimedia is a rapidly growing, and relatively new form of communication, and more and more ways to communicate are coming out almost monthly. Will all of this change and uncertainty it is easy to misread, or misinterpret things that we see; my hopes is that the world will prevail and be able to use multimedia outlets as a way to spread a good message rather than a bad one. But only time will tell.