Rhetorical Analysis Assignment #2
In an article titled “I invested early in Google and Facebook. Now they terrify me.” by Roger McNamee, he argues that websites sites like Facebook and Google are taking advantage of human nature purely for economic benefit. McNamee is an American businessman who specializes in investing in technology. This background gives McNamee credibility and authority in his writing about things like Facebook and Google. He states that Facebook and websites like it exploit human nature and addictive behaviors to earn more revenue. This makes these sites immoral and harmful to society. Despite McNamee not being known as a professional writer, he uses effective rhetorical strategies such as Pathos and Logos to persuade his audience towards his position. I will be discussing how these strategies prove to be effective as well as the assumptions and strengths McNamee makes in his article. This will help us further understand how important the internet really is and the precautions that should be used when on it.
One strategy McNamee uses to persuade his readers is pathos. Pathos is a method of rhetorical writing that uses emotion to appeal to the audience. Good use of this strategy activates a reader’s emotions which causes them to be influenced towards the author’s point of view. McNamee does this brilliantly in his article titled, “I invested early in Google and Facebook. Now they terrify me.” An example comes when McName talks about how Google and Facebook control the minds of people. He states, “Like gambling, nicotine, alcohol or heroin, Facebook and Google — most importantly through its YouTube subsidiary — produce short-term happiness with serious negative consequences in the long term” (McNamee). By comparing social media to addictive and dangerous drugs, McNamee is appealing to the reader’s negative emotions. Since many people have strong unpleasant experiences with these drugs, McNamee uses this in his favor to explain that social media is a lot like these drugs and should be used with caution. The things McNamee uses to compare social media too are also highly addictive. He chooses these four items to warn the audience that they can become addicted to social media, which is another stab at the reader’s emotions. McNamee also talks about a story done in Australia, “where someone at Facebook told advertisers that they had the ability to target teens who were sad or depressed, which made them more susceptible to advertising” (McNamee). This story is used as evidence about how Facebook cares more about their revenue than they do about the well-being of other people, especially teens. Other than putting Facebook in a bad light, this evidence helps McNamee persuade his audience by shocking them. Talking about such a sensitive topic as teen depression is extremely powerful and if nothing else, is sure to capture the audience’s attention immediately. Pathos is an extremely effective strategy when trying to persuade an audience and McNamee provides impressive examples of it in his article.
Another rhetorical strategy that McNamee uses is logos. Logos is the use of logic or reasoning to appeal to an audience. This can include the way an author uses statistics or the way authors reason to the audience when making a claim. In “I invested early in Google and Facebook. Now they terrify me” McNamee says, “The Facebook application has 2 billion active users around the world. Google’s YouTube has 1.5 billion” (McNamee). These statistics are used by McNamee to display just how much influence these sites have on our population. 2 billion people is about 29% of the entire world and is “comparable to Christianity and Islam” (McNamee). McNamee argues that things with this much power and influence should need to be moral and safe for everyone. Since Facebook is not, McNamee also uses this statistic to show his audience just how many people Facebook is corrupting and why something must be done about the issue.
A source that McNamee sites within his article is called, “Facebook can tell when teens feel insecure” by Jayne Guynn. This is the source that talks about how Facebook is exploiting depressed teens and using them to earn more revenue. McNamee uses this because it goes along perfectly with his central argument. This article is also written on the same platform as “I invested early in Google and Facebook. Now they terrify me.” which may help bring popularity to USA Today. McNamee puts the outside source in good light. He doesn’t take anything out of context or use the source against itself in any way. This shows that McNamee has real examples for his claims and doesn’t need to fabricate any evidence to make his readers agree with him.
A main strength of McNamee’s writing skills is his use of diction that puts images in the reader’s head and shocks them into believing his claims. The evidence talked about earlier that compare Facebook to addictive things and talk about how Facebook takes advantage of depressed teens are examples of this. Words like “depressed” and “heroin” raise red flags to a reader and immediately explain to them just how important the situation is. The strong words also come out of nowhere which stuns the audience and alerts them of the consequences that come from using social media. Diction is a small detail that can go a long way when writing persuasively, and McNamee uses it to his advantage.
McNamee doesn’t assume much about his readers. He explains everything he writes about thoroughly and provides context as to why he is writing about the topic. However, the previous example that I discussed comparing Facebook’s influence to the influence of Christianity and Islam is a bit far fetched. McNamee is assuming that people take Facebook just as seriously as their faith. He says that since Facebook has just as many participants as these religions, it also must have just as much influence as them. While this might be true in some cases, religion is a holy and sacred thing that usually controls how people eat, sleep, and think. People spend years practicing their religion and devoting their lives to it. Facebook on the other hand, is a social media site where thousand of cat videos are posted every day. While both social media and religion has become a big part in people’s lives, the way they influence people is extremely different and cannot be compared to each other. Good writers assume as little as they can about their audience and apart from this example, that’s what McNamee does.
Personally, I agree with McNamee’s overall argument, but only about Facebook. From the Zuckerberg scandals, I can tell that something fishy is taking part within the company. I have seen this Facebook corruption first hand with my mother. In a matter of a year or so she went from not knowing anything about social media to a Facebook junkie. Now she uses the site at least once a day and tells me she feels very disconnected without it. Google on the other hand seems like a moral company. They make using the internet simple and I don’t see many advertisements other than for the products they make like the GoogleHome and their Pixel iphone. McNamee’s argument showed me that effective arguments connect with readers and appeal to their emotions. It makes the topic being discussed seem more important and urgent then it might actually be. There are ways to be rhetorical that don’t use Pathos or Exemplification, but I think that these are some of the most effective and have the biggest impact on the readers.
Guynn, Jessica. “Facebook Can Tell When Teens Feel Insecure.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 2 May 2017. http://www.usatoday.com/story /tech/news/2017/05/01/facebook-can-tell-when-teens-feel-insecure-advertiser- target/101158752/.
McNamee, Roger. “I Invested Early in Google and Facebook. Now They Terrify Me.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 10 Aug. 2017. http://www.usatoday.com/story/ opinion/2017/08/08/my-google-and-facebook-investments-made-fortune-but-now-they- menace/543755001/