In the paper “The Rhetorical Situation,” Bitzer (1992) claims that rhetoricians don’t treat the formal aspects of the type of situation in which speakers or writers create rhetorical discourse. In the same text, he remarks,
“Each reader probably can recall a specific time and place when there was opportunity to speak on some urgent matter, and after the opportunity was gone he created in private thought, the speech he should have uttered earlier in the situation.”
I really enjoyed that quote. After reading it, one of the things that came to my mind was social media. A couple of times, I’ve considered venting what happens in my mind after facing a situation like the one above. I censor myself and decide not to post anything most of the times, though. Sometimes, I think it’s the “heat” of the moment. Sometimes, I think I need to think things better. Sometimes, I simply forget what I wanted to “conjecture” from that situation.
Later, I’ve seen some Facebook friend’s venting what they think or feel regarding everyday situations. I’ve always wondered, why aren’t they open to say things out loud? Recently, I noted that one of my closest friends posted, “sad.” Of course, I went to check the comments and no response (at that moment) about the reason of being sad. I think I’ve done something similar a couple of times, as well. Not putting just “sad,” but expressing indirectly how I feel towards a certain person, thing or situation. However, externalizing thought was the key thing that I needed: to express it, to make it real.
The Bitzer’s quote made think that, somehow, social media is not strong enough sometimes to encourage the user to express her thoughts. In other words, to avoid self-censorship.Notwithstanding, when we don’t care (or perhaps, we care too much), social media allows to throw what we think in a easy and quick way. I wonder,
- what is the difference between throwing a “second-chance-to-argue” “private” thought and other forms of self-expression? For example, a graffiti.
- Why is it safe sometimes to externalize that type of thought or inner conversation in social media? When is not it?
- Where do we learn such awareness? Does that awareness follow or go against the free of speech in social media?
I don’t really know.
What do you think? Are you having a conversation in private thought already?
Bitzer, L.F. (1992). The Rhetorical Situation. Philosophy & Rhetoric, Vol. 25, Selections from Volume 1, pp. 1-14.