Rhetoric, Kairos, and reading a blog backwards

This post is rhetorically analyzing the High Heels and Dirty Dishes post from Thursday, October 10, 2013. This post didn’t have the typical numerical assignment like all other posts.

For the sake of this post, we are going to assume that I am a new reader to this blog. I have only read the previous post, #13. Now let’s analyze the kairos and rhetoric of this post.

“I have at this point ended my weekly column, and I really have no regrets or any ill feelings toward the newspaper. It was my segway into me realizing that writing makes me happy.”

The rhetor has informed us the she has ended her weekly column in a newspaper. Next she tells us that she has no negative feelings towards the newspaper. Lastly she tells us because the experience has brought to the knowledge that matters the most: writing makes her happy.

The post could be deemed kairotic. The timing seems appropriate. The break between her and the newspaper has recently happened. There doesn’t seem to be anything tasteless in her words.

But let’s look at kairos and the audience and the circumstance. If I as a new reader am now just looking at this post, after having only read post #13. There is some additional information that I may want. Let’s read on into her post to see if the information is given, before I argue whether the kairos is effective.

“I know that some people are upset about me stopping, but the truth is I do write about real things, and real can be scary. So maybe everyone didn’t like what I wrote about. But these are the people that obviously don’t go the bathroom, have experienced facial hair, adult acne, teenage kids, or friends that know way too much about you.”

Additional information has been shared. It becomes clear that some readers didn’t like the topics the rhetor covered in the column. It’s the next line that gives me the information, that as a reader I was wanting to know.

“I could change my writings but you know what I won’t do it.”

Now it becomes clear that the newspaper asked her to change what she was writing about. I think a reader could infer this from the first couple of sentences. But, like Walker and Longaker say, the textualized rhetorical situation becomes more complex compared to the oral rhetorical situation. The rhetor needs to imagine her audience and their response.

“What I write is relatable, and people like to be able to relate to something. I find that it makes situations less uncomfortable and people are truly themselves. I could have caved and went with the “Norm”, but lets be truthful there is nothing normal about life these days.”

Though the rhetor doesn’t make it explicit who her intended audience is, we can make a few inferences:
* The rhetor assumes that whoever is reading this knows about her weekly column in the newspaper
* The newspaper circulation would occupy a certain geographic area of readers, but the platform of this blog is one that is technological, so the reader must also be an internet user.
* That people will be relate to what she writes about

In this case I am the actual reader. I do not know about her newspaper column.

The actual rhetor seems to be the implied rhetor. Reading her post we can pick up on her values and beliefs. The rhetor’s text addresses her intended audience as having the same values and beliefs as her.

From the text, I as the reader, have deduced that the rhetor believes in writing about the reality of her life. That the rhetor won’t change what she writes about even when pressured to do so. The text addresses its audience assuming that the audience will agree with the rhetor’s decisions.

Another actual reader could be someone who disagrees with what the rhetor has to say. He/she may find the entire post completely unkairotic. His/her values and beliefs could differ greatly than the rhetor’s. He/she will probably not be persuaded.

I came across this blog, doing an internet search for “mom blogs.” The rhetor possibly should also think about the possible new readers she may gain through the wide-reaching ability of the internet.

As someone who is also from northwestern Minnesota, the values and beliefs of her readers of the newspaper column that didn’t like what she had to say are obvious to me. But they may not be obvious for an actual reader from an urban area, or a different part of the country, or even from a different country.

Actual readers may not be persuaded because the actual textual evidence of the post, leaves out a lot of specific information. Where is the newspaper located? What specific information written about in the past did readers have a problem with? Why did they have a problem with it? I.e. how were their values and beliefs violated.

We are given an idea about this with these two lines:

“So maybe everyone didn’t like what I wrote about. But these are the people that obviously don’t go the bathroom, have experienced facial hair, adult acne, teenage kids, or friends that know way too much about you.”

But is that enough information for the actual audience?

The end of the post brings up another question for me. Why does the rhetor believe that a newspaper would be able to get her more circulation than a blog that has the ability to reach millions? But I also infer that the rhetor wants to have her readership grow. I’m not sure what to make this final section.

“I am honoured to be able to write, and maybe this blog will not get the circulation that the paper received. That’s ok, because the moment that I start writing for other people instead of myself … well the moment that I need to stop take a look around and smell the vodka injected oranges … cause they do smell as good as they taste.”

I will follow up with a second post shortly, looking specifically at the logos, ethos, and pathos from this same blog post.

Rhetoric in Mom Blogs Post #3

Finally I am diving in to the actual posts themselves!
This post will look at Enge’s High Heels and Dirty Dishes #13 Here is the link to the actual post: #13

Let’s see if I can do some actual rhetorical analysis. — It’s a rather a fine line (in my opinion) to be able to judge that something is effective in its rhetoric and not say why it works or doesn’t work for me. I am supposed to put off my agreement or disagreement but still JUDGE something. I honestly don’t believe anyone can be impartial, but for the sake of rhetorical analysis, I shall try to play both sides and point out why the argument might or might not appeal to a variety of people.

But first I will focus in on the Kairos of this post. I’ve quoted a few things from my textbook to guide me and to show you what I’m using as a basis.

“In what ways does a discourse respond to its situation, and how well?” – Longaker and Walker

KAIROS: “The ancient word kairos basically means time, in the particular sense of a moment in time, and especially the right time or the opportune time… the idea of kairos includes a sense of the surrounding conditions (cultural, political, economic, technological, etc.) that make some things more possible and other things less.” – Longaker and Walker

“As a rhetorical term kairos names both the occasion for discourse and the surrounding conditions that present the rhetor with opportunities and constraints.” – Longaker and Walker.

Enge’s post’s are one big block of information, which I definitely plan to jump into analyzing, but not quite yet. First, let’s look at this first section, well, what I have judged to be the first section.

I would really like to know when my life went from I don’t know what I should do today, to not being sure if I brushed my teeth or if I put a bra on because I didn’t have time. For the love of God my life has to slow down a little bit. It is 11:30 at night, and my mind is swarming on all sorts of stuff that I should be doing.

Let’s jump into the surrounding conditions of Enge’s post. She is posting at 11:30 P.M.. It’s late at night and according to what she has already told us, she wants her life to slow down. If not for technology and blogs, she may not be able to find the time to write.

Some people could find this unkairotic. They might be put off to read the rest of the rhetor’s post, because where is she finding the time to write a post worth reading? BUT some people might find this kairotic because the surroundings of their own lives are just as busy and they appreciate the rhetor still taking the time, late at night to write to them.

No new drama with my kids this week, so either I am doing a better job of zoning them out or they have been sick without me knowing it. My son did tell me this week that he is going to start writing about me, and I told him to go for it. Anything to get that kid to write in complete sentences has me excited.

In terms of kairos, the rhetor is saying, so far nothing has happened lately to report on. This could be kairotic, because it also explains why the rhetor has been writing this post about herself and not her kids, because the constraint in the situation is she doesn’t have anything to report on, on the parent front.

I did have a couple of tough days this week, and when I get upset or discouraged I feel the symptoms of my stroke so strongly. I just want to be normal, I want to remember where I put my keys, my phone, to turn off the oven, where I set down my purse, and so on. I feel like my Grandma Rose looking for her false teeth every morning. It is hard for those that live with me, and it is really hard not having a mental breakdown. I want to be normal, I want to feel that I am not a burden, that I am someone that people want to be around instead of being known as the one that is really forgetful. Not fun and it is starting to wear on my self-esteem. As much as we want people in life to like us, I just want to be able to wake in the morning and not have to tell myself that today is going to be a better day, that I am going to get better, and that I am not going to feel worthless because of my inability to remember even the simplest things. You see my life isn’t always about High Heels and Dirty Dishes. Most of the time I have no idea where the other heel is, and the dishes are usually in the dishwasher because I hate unloading it. Until next week my friends.

This last paragraph that I’ve included from her post, can work very well for kairos, because it is really taking in the rhetor’s surrounding conditions, one which is dealing with the after effect of a stroke. Having “a couple of tough days: that week has brought out the opportunity to talk about her struggles and keep it kairotic. If the rhetor wasn’t still struggling, or was maybe struggling a month ago, or a year ago, the post would become unkairotic because it would be untimely.

Something that bloggers have to deal with in terms of rhetoric that I find interesting is that the newest post is seen first. I wonder about the effects this has on rhetoric. If the rhetor missed just that one little line about having a stroke, would her post become unkairotic? possible because it could be seen as inappropriate, since the rhetor’s reasoning as to why she has been having a couple of hard days would be unknown to a new reader, who has just happened upon her blog, compared to a reader who knows the back story.

Since Enge hasn’t posted anything new, I will be reading backwards and am interested to see the effects on rhetoric, that back-reading has.

Mom Blogs Post #2 Rhetoric of the Profile

A bloggers profile is an important part of developing ethos amongst her readers.

Looking for feedback from my savvy blog post readers:

  • Are you likely to check out a user’s profile?
  • Does a user profile determine whether or not you will continue to visit that person’s page?
  • What kind of information are you expecting to find in a profile?

I expect to find two types of information in user profiles: personal and professional and probably a mixture of both

First let’s look at Allison Enge’s Profile

She blogs on blogger.com and I assume they have a generic layout of questions for the blogger to fill in, otherwise I just don’t know why she would need to input that her gender is female. I’m assuming it’s more for statistical information for the blogger.com people to look at gender statistics.

BUT it also tells me something about her, she is a go with the flow type person, it asked for her gender so what the hey she just filled it in. Her choice to do so, develops ethos with her readers, because it shows a sense of honesty.

Occupation is self-employed. Enge’s occupation is missing a chance to further develop ethos with her readers. Self Employed requires further explanation to build on her honesty. This is also a chance for her to develop her reputation and credentials.

Location Thief River Falls, MN. Giving her geographic location does build on Enge’s ethos of honesty further. Her location will more than likely develop a geographic pathos with certain readers, because they may have a geographic pathos to northern Minnesota itself.

Introduction

My name is Allison , although most everyone knows me as Allie. Or Nolan and Hannah’s mom.

While this introduction is few in words, it’s effective at developing ethos and pathos with her readers. Trust is developed through goodwill. “Most everyone knows me as Allie,” is friendly. Pathos is developed by the line, “Or Nolan and Hannah’s mom,” most people can relate to this. I’m Angus’ mom, not Beth to some people.

For favorite movies Enge lists only one, “How to lose a guy in 10 days.” The movie is a chick flick and a comedy and can further affect the pathos of her readers with people who also like this movie.

For favorite music Enge says,

I really listen to anything that my kids listen to so I can sing along with them and they can roll their eyes, I then just sing louder with the windows open.

This is consistent with the comedic pathos connection.

For favorite books Enge says,

My iPad is full of books from classics to stories of the Amish and who doesn’t like a little 50?

Once again, consistent with comedy.

Conclusion: Enge’s profile focuses on personal information and is making an indirect argument(logos) to read her blog because she is an honest, comedic mother.

Next looking at the Mama Bird Diaries Profile

Kelcey Kinter’s profile starts off with professional information. She has worked in the White House, has been a TV reporter and anchor and has a graduate degree in journalism from Columbia University. This information is developing an ethos by inspiring trust through her credentials and intelligence.

Kinter shifts quickly to a different tone with the rest of the paragraph.

“I’ve lived in Montana where this city girl had to drive three hours just to find sushi. But nothing has ever kicked my bum like motherhood. It’s exhausting. It’s frustrating. It’s strangely addictive. Now I understand why my mother loves me so much.”

There is a lot going on in these 6 short sentences. Kinter is honest, she displays goodwill and a general moral quality that all contribute to her character. These sentences also present causes for emotion in her readers. Longaker and Walker identify this as pathemata, “to arouse, intensify, or change the audience’s emotion. Then the emotion functions as a reason for embracing an idea or taking action.” This idea that Kinter is after, is that her readers become loyal readers.

Dylan is my 9 year-old, Summer is my 6 year-old, Chase and Harlowe are my 3 year-old twins and Cash is our baby boy. (Yes it’s a lot of kids.) My husband Rick (an anchor for CBS Miami) is handsome, loyal, funny and an amazing dad. He’s too good for me. I hope he doesn’t realize it because there is no way I’m taking care of these children alone. We’re sort of like the Von Trapps if we were a lot more talented.

Kinter displays a lot of personal information that will continue to develop trust(ethos) in her readers. She also displays a bit of humbleness, which is important because her life does seem above ordinary and she doesn’t want to alienate her readers, hindering pathos.

Where I Write:

Kinter moves back into the professional information in this section. She contributes to other sites, she’s been rated, published in numerous newspapers, featured on TV shows, and has been a speaker at two BlogHer conferences. This is a direct argument(logos) to the readers as to why they should value what she has to say.

Consulting:

Kinter names a few huge brands that have hired her for consulting such as Coca Cola. Then she quotes herself as saying, “Too many of these companies are trying to promote themselves on social media with just boring promotional tweets or Facebook updates. They need to hire clever, funny writers who engage with the audience as a way to connect with women. Companies need to work harder at being part of the conversation.” This is another argument that Kinter is making to a secondary audience, saying that if you hire me I know how to promote your brand through social media and I’m good at it.

Conclusion: Kinter is developing a personal and professional argument to two different audiences. She wants readers to follow her blog and she also wants companies to hire her.

Meet Suburban Turmoil
“Lindsay Ferrier is a wife, stepmom and mom living in Nashville, Tennessee. In addition to writing Suburban Turmoil, she’s host and co-creator of Tout Your Town, airing on PBS in Spring 2014. She’s also a contributing writer to CafeMom’s The Stir and The Huffington Post”.

The tone in Suburban Turmoil is different from both Enge’s and Kinter’s profiles. It seems that Lindsay Ferrier hired an outside source to write her profile. I also had a hard time finding her profile because it wasn’t in the usual place on the blog page, it is a tab in the navigational bar at the top of the page and it just says the word, “Meet.” This approach may negatively impact her ethos with her readers. Trust may not be inspired because she doesn’t even take the time to write her own profile. It does highlight her reputation and credentials, but the form in which they are presented may actually develop into a negative emotion for the readers. They may feel put-off and unimportant to the blogger, therefore they will question why they should read her blog or why they should remain loyal to her blog.

Writing

Started in 2005, Suburban Turmoil now gets nearly a million unique visitors each month.

This section is rather long, here is the link if you would like to read it all. I will just point out a few points.

This section states that her blog has been mentioned in magazines, newspapers, and websites, such as the Chicago Tribune, Redbook and goodhousekeeping.com. This establishes her credentials, and intelligence. Since many people, women in particular, read Redbook and Good Housekeeping, this could affect the pathos of the audience. The logos, or argument, would be: since my work is featured in these popular magazines and websites, you should read my blog because I have good stuff to say.

Next there is a paragraph on the awards she has won. Which may develop ethos because she must be knowledgeable on what she is writing about in order to win awards.

The next paragraph digresses to talk about the style blog she started and then sold to CafeMom. Though she still writes a column for the blog. I question whether this paragraph positively or negatively affects the ethos, pathos, and logos. If she is still writing posts for that blog too, it may confuse readers, on why they should follow her on this blog.

The next paragraph follows the same suit, here all the newspapers Lindsay has written columns for.

The next paragraph is her on camera/ television work. Which for the sake of brevity, I am going to skip over. I am going to do the same with her appearances paragraph, because the following paragraph is what I really want to get to.

Personal

Lindsay is wife to WSMV-TV reporter Dennis Ferrier, mom to 6 year old “Bruiser” and 9 year old “Punky,” (no, those are not their real names!) and stepmom to 20 and 23-year-old young women. She’s also caretaker of Dottie, a poodle/dachshund rescue dog from Bonaparte’s Retreat that Lindsay and her family are pretty sure is the best dog in the whole world.
Lindsay attends Bellevue Presbyterian Church in Nashville, which she secretly calls the Church for People Who Love Laughter and Food. And Also God. She loves to read, travel, cook, and spend time with her family.

Finally we get to the personal paragraph. I have had to wade through way too much professional information to get to her personal information. If her personal life is so important shouldn’t it be at the top? This really affected my ethos and pathos. I’m not sure why I should trust her as a mom, because I haven’t heard anything about why she loves being a mom and writing about it. I’ve heard how popular and successful she is, but the argument is missing as to why she is so successful. Why should I as a mom, believe what she has to say? Also, the continued third person narrative is very ineffective, especially for her personal section. This would carry much more ethos and pathos if she had written it herself. Also the fact that she doesn’t write this entire page, brings up the question about if she is too busy? If Lindsay is too busy to write about her personal life, should I reasonably trust that she is writing every blog post? She may be too much of a celebrity to manage this page anymore. All of these question continue to make me not trust her and what she has to say.

Conclusion: Way too much professional information. The third person narrative negatively affects, her ethos and my pathos. The location of her personal information seems to show where her priorities lie.

The Rhetoric of Mom Blogs

In pursuit of an Electronic Writing Minor, I’m kicking off my capstone project:

Analyzing the Rhetoric of Mom Blogs.

I’m interested in the mom blog genre, foremost because I am a mother and an introverted one at that. So I’m interested to see what mom’s share on their blogs.

What is driving these moms to blog? Do they have personal or commercial interests? For now I will assume that it is both. But I look forward to seeing I can parse the answer out through the blog posts.

Will I be able to analyze the bloggers kairos to determine this? (As you can see I must use rhetorical terms, I mean this is a legit project and all) Kairos takes on a different role when the rhetorical situation is not a speaker to an immediate audience, but rather a writer using a text to covey her rhetoric to the audience. Through the blog posts I intend to be able to construct who each bloggers intended audience is. The information that each blogger shares about her personal self, will also provide a picture of who the rhetor is for each reader.

Ultimately I shall attempt to determine if each post I analyze is kairotic or unkairotic. As Mark Garett Longaker and Jeffery Walker put it in Rhetorical Analysis: A Brief Guide for Writers, “Discourse that responds effectively or appropriately to the opportunities and constraints in its situation may be called kairotic or timely. Discourse that fails to do so may be called unkairotic, untimely, inappropriate, or, sometimes, just plain tasteless.”

I will also be looking at how the bloggers develop ethos with their readers. AKA why as readers do we trust what these bloggers have to say? How can I find this information out? I believe through the posts themselves and also if readers are generating comments back to the blogger.

Are the bloggers able to affect the pathos of their audience? AKA as readers are we developing emotions based on what the bloggers have to say? AND are the bloggers actively using pathos with their audience to have us embrace an idea or even take actions?

Lastly, I will be looking for logos. Are the bloggers telling us, the readers, directly what conclusions to make or are they using an indirect way for us to come to the conclusions that they want us to make? Are there causes that each blogger believes in and wants us to support?

I believe, that each blogger, wants us to respond with comments. Is she succesful in garnering those comments? And if we do comment does the blogger continue to comment, as well, and further develop a relationship with her readers?

I want to hear from other moms out there.

  • What matters to you when you read a “mom blog?”
  • Are you looking for advice?
  • For someone else who deals with the craziness that you deal with on a daily basis?
  • Or are you looking just for entertainment?
  • What makes you trust a blogger?
  • What keeps you coming back for more?
  • What topics are taboo or just plain too much information?
  • What common judgements do you find yourself making?

GIVE ME YOUR THOUGHTS!

I obviously had to choose some blogs to follow, and I decided on these three:

http://www.allisonenge.blogspot.com

http://www.mamabirddiaries.com

http://suburbanturmoil.com

In the past I have also looked at Heather Armstrong’s blog, Dooce. She has made a successful career with blogging and I feel I can effectively compare blogs to hers and find ways in which she exemplifies how to be effective at developing, ethos, pathos, and logos in her readers and followers.

My following post will be analyzing the bloggers profiles. I would argue that each blogger’s profile can make a huge impact on the ethos that they are developing with their readers. So I look forward to sharing my findings shortly.