Fighting Trolls (Or Rhetoric on the Web)

When I think of rhetoric I think of argument. Raised voices, tense stances, and someone simply refusing to see the other persons side all come to mind. While this may be because of the political atmosphere that rhetoric is often discussed in, or because I was first introduced to the word from a frigid high school teacher who cared more about being correct than he did passing knowledge down to his students, it is a thought process that I have unfortunately failed to shake even with the many writing classes I have taken as a college student. I know it is more of an artfully curated “fighting” platform writers use to stick to their guns and persuade others into thinking the same, but the context of the word leaves nothing but a bad taste in my mouth.

When I think of writing for the web I think of trolls. No, not the bright haired dolls that somehow got themselves their own animated movie, but the kind that bash other people just to bash them. While I know this is not the only kind of writing that goes on the internet, it seems to be the kind that gets the most attention. Hurtful tweets and toxic comment sections are something any moderate internet reader will see on a daily basis. For every good piece of writing on the web there are a hundred bad things, making the good content a needle in a rage filled, side taking, and unconstructive haystack.

But, placing rhetoric into the idea of conversation based web writing definitely puts a different spin on both rhetoric and writing for the web. While the types and platforms of writing for the web are vast and different, they all have the consistent theme of trying to get noticed. For some that means favorites and retweets while for others it means an engaged comment section or high view counts. In a day and age where there is so much content being made and seen every day, it unfortunately also means that there is a lot of bad content being circulated, no matter the platform a writer is using. The thing that separates the content from being highly rated and quality conversation inducing verses trolling that will be under the bridge almost as soon as it appears, is the rhetoric. In a perfect world everyone would consider their audience, context, and message before they click send, submit or post. But until we reach that day, those who want to find content on the internet will have to fight their way to get it, using rhetoric as their north star.


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