During the course of this semester, I’ve developed a list of concepts that I use regularly to help me understand the practice of writing and speaking. The concepts that I keep going back to are stasis, commonplaces, and audience. Stasis is something that helps me understand arguments and why they go unsolved. Commonplaces help me understand why arguments are made and why we keep going back to the same arguments over and over again. Audience is something that I struggled to understand in the beginning, but over the past few weeks I began to understand the importance of the person who is targeted in the conversation and how they affect the outcome of the argument.
Since it so happened that the election of our new president happened during this course, I thought about all three of these concepts frequently, especially on my social media pages. I started to not pay so much attention to the closed-mindedness of the people on my Facebook page and tried to put myself into their shoes to understand where they were coming from with their ideas. For example, I made a single Facebook post during the election that read “This is a reminder that your feelings are legitimate. Don't let anyone take them away from you. Your concerns, opinions, thoughts, and feelings are what define you as a person. If you're upset, be upset. If you're happy, be happy. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't express these things”. Then, the first reply to this was immediately “what about all these idiots expressing their feelings by burning their homes and towns down? is that ok too? Don't answer I'm just expressing my opinion”. Instead of being outraged by this comment because I didn’t say a single thing about politics, the protests that were happening, or actions that were happening, I decided to look at this like a rhetorician, for my own sanity.
My audience for this post was everyone on my Facebook page. The context of this post could have been viewed by any of the hundreds of people who’ve seen it a different way. The individual who read it and responded first misinterpreted what I was trying to say and took it as I was making an excuse for the violent protests that broke out in our nation. This is audience working not in my favor. The first response says “Don’t answer I’m just expressing my opinion” but this is a silencing technique to everyone else who wants to reply to this thread, that I’m very clearing saying that I don’t support. After this initial response, two other individuals decided to use my post as a political war ground and go back and forth with each other about the new President-elect. After minutes of reading all of this political garbage that somehow found its way on to my post, I realized that these two very clear cut radical Republicans and this one open minded Liberal were in a battle that wouldn’t be solved. They weren’t reaching stasis because the two Republicans were using commonplaces to silence the Liberal such as “just deal with it” and “that’s just how it is”, along with a lot of vulgar, to fight for their opinion. I believe that stasis is never achieved when one of the groups tries to silence the other.
The most expertise that I’ve gathered from this course was learning to channel my anger into a better argument. I connect writing and speaking closely now and I pay a lot more attention to the arguments that happen around me all over social media. I understand now that knowing who you’re speaking to and reaching to them effectively is a lot more challenging than I’ve ever thought of previously. Meanings can be misconstrued depending on who is listening. Silencing is a technique that happens in every argument that never reaches stasis. People keep bringing up the same arguments over and over again and using the same responses to these arguments, which is another reason why change never happens.
I understand arguments as much more complicated than “I’m right, you’re wrong”