Everyday Rhetoric

In class Friday we spent a portion of time discussing how one could identify a well educated person. The heart of this exercise was to show that, in modern times, many people only associate the well educated or wealthy as those who have any real rhetorical skills. These people are the ones in society who can formulate a well thought argument or easily persuade the minds of others with their words while a large portion of people simply lack the tools to do this. However, after seeing an interaction between my pseudo aunt and her thirteen year old daughter, I am a firm believer that all have the inherent skill to use rhetoric to their personal advantage.

It started as, what I thought, was an innocent question. The girl, Frankie, asked her mom if she could get an app called Houseparty. The app allows a user to enter in huge video conference calls with friends who also have the app. From the onset, the mother was adamantly against Frankie downloading the app. She felt uncomfortable allowing her thirteen year old daughter to have that much accessibility to her friends at a moments notice (at least that’s how she framed her opposition, there could’ve been a variety of other reasons). However, the initial disapproval did little to deter Frankie. She pointed out that she would have no more access than she already had on her phone. Next, she pointed out that her friends had all received approval from their parents. So, this was not some random app she was trying to get, it had been researched and approved by other parents. This did little to sway Frankie’s mother, at first. Over the course of eight hours, I saw Frankie continuously change and update her rhetoric. Sometimes, she would make her argument in Italian, a language that she feels more comfortable in. She also began to appeal to her mother’s emotional side more as the day wore on, stressing how she was mature enough because she was raised correctly. By the time I left their house, Frankie’s mother had switched her opinion (at least, in Frankie’s eyes) saying that she could probably get the app the following day. Through this average teenager, I saw that everyone, not just those who are highly educated, contains the rhetorical skills to persuade another.

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