Comparative Rhetorical Analysis
With increasing use of technologies, several questions surface. Certainly, such technologies add convenience and ease to our daily lives. However, much debate is focused on whether or not the internet is making us more intelligent or less. Since, it is logical to state that the internet certainly will not decline, we must learn to monitor our usage, while realizing that everything provided online should not be deemed credible or 100% true. With that being said, what is the truth to this question? Are we becoming smarter or dumber due to internet use? In this essay, I will be discussing two conflicting articles on such issues that have much in common, while showcasing the rhetorical approaches of each authors. The first article is written by Nicholas Carr and is title “Is Google Making Us Stupid”. The following article is written by Steven Johnson and titled “From Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today’s Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter”. Both articles breach upon the power of the internet and how audiences react to the utilization of such.
In each article, the authors make different assertions for their thesis’s. Carr makes the assertion that Google is in fact making us not only stupider but lazier collectively. This is found through the many points made about how people believe everything that is posted online and how many of these search engines are only concerned with subscribers and making money (Carr,2008). Johnson posits in his thesis that modern culture (internet technologies) are making us collectively more intelligent. This thesis is realized through his several points on the accessibility to information. He stated repeatedly how prior to the popularization of the internet, information was difficult to obtain, especially due to class structure. Generally, only the wealthy had access to information. However, now each person has somewhat an equal opportunity to become well versed in many subjects (Johnson, 2006).
Each author offers incredible data and examples to back up the information they are presented. In Carr’s essay he claimed: “They typically read no more than one or two pages of an article or book before they would “bounce” out to another site. Sometimes they’d save a long article, but there’s no evidence that they ever went back and actually read it” (Carr,2008). Car uses the rhetorical strategy of logos in this article. That is because he persuades such instances using logic. This quote also was used to back up the point, that students or audiences basically read one article, and not fully and base their research on this one point. Inevitably making us stupid. This is logical, because one should familiarize themselves with several articles prior to making an overall conclusion on the credibility of the information. Thus showcasing, that people are indeed because less intelligent, prior to the internet, people would have to do countless hours of reading before finding information on their topics.
Johnson asserts his claims by also stating several instances how these conveniences allocate more time to research even more about the topic at hand. In Johnson article he stated: “if someone testing in the top 18 percent the year FDR was elected were to time-travel to the middle of the Carter administration, he would score at the 50th percentile” (Johnson, 2006). Johnson also uses the rhetorical approach of logos or logic in this quote. I say this because he is using logical data to persuade audiences that technology makes us more intelligent. This quote emphasized how the increase in technology makes one become more intelligent. This is valid for several reasons, for instance, prior to the internet one obtained information primarily from books. As we all know, many books are time consuming, and such points can be found within minutes. This, however, shouldn’t be concluded from simply one article, but the summation of many read pieces. Nonetheless, with proper use, one can obtain information lightyears through the internet before actually reading an article. Although, as Carr claims, many do not do this, they simply read snippets of the article and believe all claims are for certain. In my opinion, both Carr and Johnson do a splendid job in making claims both clear and valid in nature. Audiences of all reading levels can follow the language use with ease. Also, each provided examples to help justify such bold claims being stated.
Due to the topic at hand, it is only natural that both writers would use the appeal to logic. That is, because facts and credible information must be present in order to prove their sides. Many audiences need information and claims that are credible and backed up prior to taking an opinion on the topic. Such topics are very difficult, because on one hand, we need technology, none of us can imagine a life without it. However, this technology does have many disadvantages as well. The authors are aware that such topics are difficult for persuasion, therefore, using logic is the best rhetorical approach, because logic is objective, whereas, other rhetorical strategies are not.
There are to some degree similarities in both writings, but differences conclude at a higher degree. The similarities are found in the topics, the use of examples and facts, and the source types. The topics, although contrasting, both deal with the use of technologies. Carr speaks on search engines, and Johnson on gaming. However, are both modern technologies that effect the intelligence of users. Both articles, are also written in a two-year span differences, making them more relevant to each other as well. Technology use started lifting off during the mid-2000’s and each article showcases this.
In each article, the authors are deeply concerned with backing up their claims using examples and personal experiences alike. It is one thing to make a claim, but another to provide proof. This helps audiences in determine the validity associated. Although, both state different ideas, both appear to be equally as truthful as the next. Making one realize that the internet certainly possesses both favorable and unfavorable effects on users. Both authors provided scenarios to back up their claims for points stated. Which is a very convincing and persuasive factorization. Source types were also very similar in these essays. Both articles are books, which somewhat are important to the message. Although, both are made available online, in generally books are heavily disregarded in modern times. The purpose and intended audiences in both selections were the same. Both authors desired to reach various audiences, due to the fact that almost everyone uses at least on type of technology in their everyday lives. Although, the purposes were somewhat contradictive, they were also similar as well. That is, that both authors desired to reveal the truth to audiences about technology use and the correlation to intelligence, or the lack there of.
As stated previously above, both articles are found in books, not just web pages. So, the structure is to some degree similar. However, the way in which the books go about making their claims is fairy different. What I mean by this, is that Carr provides evidence first, before making personal commentaries. Whereas, Johnson makes his claims first, then moves towards providing necessary evidence. I preferred the writings of Carr over Johnson’s for several reasons. First, and foremost, when reading a lengthy article, I prefer not having to search what every other word means. Being an international student, this certainly makes the assignment even harder. Johnson used many sophisticated words, that I’m sure the average person doesn’t understand, let alone someone who speaks English as a second language. Carr, on the other hand used simple terminology to vocalize his points. Another way in which the organization was varying amongst the two books would be found in the length. Although, only snippets of the books were included, the article by Johnson was much more extensive of that of Carr’s. Which to some degree made a bias in Carr’s favor towards me.
Both Johnson and Carr finish with a conclusive conclusion, which was equally as strong in nature, in my opinion. Each reinstated their major claims expressed throughout the essays, and linking this information as well. I would certainly claim that each ended very strong. However, I personally enjoyed Carr’s conclusion. Although during the beginning of the analysis, I leaned toward the middle of the argument. I feel that the internet, or technology, is making us less intelligent. Although the convinces and accessibility does allocate one to obtain more knowledge, people misuse it very often. Johnson does show how technology is highly beneficial, but since it was difficult to understand such claims, Carr appears to be more educated on such topics.
As mentioned initially, technology is only projected to increase. Although, usage wasn’t discussed much in either article, I feel it makes the world of difference. If one is taught how to utilize the internet for the best, then they shouldn’t come across as many issues. However, most people are not taught properly how to decipher trusting authors or outlets of information and simply believe everything that is written. This is certainly where the harm surfaces. Luckily, Universities strive at teaching students about such issues. Both articles provided the necessary data to back up claims as well, which certainly reveals the nature of each as well as the credibility. These technologies can be wonderful, but only when one knows the proper way to retrieve internet-based information.