30 October 2018
Title of Your Report
Have you ever gotten a sudden rush of excitement or happiness when you receive a notification on social media or when you feel your phone vibrate? This is because social media triggers a chemical compound, called dopamine, to be released into our neurons giving us the same rush as when humans use drugs, alcohol, and other dangerous addictive behaviors. Roger McNamee, a businessman, investor, venture capitalist, musician,q ex Facebook employee, and the managing director and co- founder of Elevation Partners, argues in his article called, “I invested early in Google and Facebook. Now they terrify me.” that social media companies have become a “menace to public health and democracy,” and consumers will have to force them to change. In this essay I will identify and examine McNamee’s rhetorical strategies, analyze his assumptions, discuss a strength or weakness, and examine one of the sources he applies to his argument.
Throughout his article, McNamee asserts his main claims with credible evidence and statistics in order to portray logos to strategically persuade his audience. He uses different research studies and their results, facts on social media, and personal anecdotes to assert his claim. He states “The Facebook application has 2 billion active users around the world. Google’s YouTube has 1.5 billion. These numbers are comparable to Christianity and Islam, respectively, giving Facebook and Google influence greater than most First World countries.” Choosing to use this statistic provides a vision and idea for the audience to understand how many people statistically use social media and how many people he claims it is affecting. McNamee’s use of this fact is strategic because, by providing evidence for the readers to understand the concept more clearly, they will be more likely to agree with him, opposed to someone who doesn’t know and can’t understand how many people are actually being affected. This strategy is effective because with the understanding and explanation about the concept it may become confusing to the audience and push them away from even finishing the article. McNamee’s choice of facts and statistics help us understand where he is coming from and it allows us to be able to be persuaded and agree with his argument.
Additionally Mcnamee also uses strategies such as word choice, and credibility in order to persuade his audience using ethos. Word choice is effective in an argument because by using certain words and phrases, they can influence people more. From the start stating “I invested in Google and Facebook years before their first revenue and profited enormously,” immediately establishes that being an ex Facebook worker, he most likely has correct information on the company and that he can be trusted. Including this quote is strategic because being that he was employed with Facebook and isn’t someone on the outside bashing on their company tells the reader that the stories, facts, and evidence are most likely correct and not made up. Another strategy McNamee uses in order to persuade us is word choice. Including words and phrases such as, “Like gambling, nicotine, alcohol or heroin, Facebook and Google — most importantly through its YouTube subsidiary — produce short-term happiness with serious negative consequences in the long term.” is very powerful because choosing to use this phrase and choice of words introduces the topic that social media is just like these dangerous addictive behaviors. Both of the strategies McNamee used in his article for ethos, word choice and credibility, assert his claims immensely as they are both effective in changing someone views on a topic.
In McNamee’s article he refers to many different sources to provide evidence for where he is getting his information for his statements. One source he uses, The Washington Post, is embedded in his statement that “Google also is analyzing credit card records of millions of people.” Being that The Washington Post is one of Washington D.C.’s newspaper companies and is highly credible and reliable, it was a great choice for McNamee to refer to for evidence. This article, “Google now knows when its users go to the store and buy stuff” expands upon his statement that Google is keeping track of our credit cards by describing that by keeping track of customers web history it was increasing sales for products that were being promoted and although there is benefits for keeping track of the history it is also found to be too intimate and breaching of our personal privacy. McNamee’s choice for using this source to prove his argument was chosen very well and it makes his article stronger and more credible by showing the support of reliable sources.
One major assumption McNamee assumes throughout the article is that his audience are composed of active users of social media and users of modern technology. Although it may be true that “tech touches us from the moment we wake up until we go to sleep” for the majority but is not necessarily true for the entirety of his audience. By assuming this, he is also assuming that everyone uses social media from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep. Also, he never addresses the potential part of the audience that doesn’t use social media and how just technology is affecting them. Although McNamee does assume this about his audience, being that the vast majority does use technology and social media both, it does relate to many people across the world.
One major weakness in McNamee’s article is that he doesn’t discuss a rebuttal such as the benefits of social media and technology. Addressing the opposing side to his argument that social media has benefits, like staying in contact, marketing, advertising, and many other things, would make his argument stronger. If he would have addressed the other side and analyzed it, it would show the audience why he outweighs the faults over the benefits and he could possibly explain why he thinks the way he does. If McNamee were to address a rebuttal I feel as if his argument would be even more persuasive than it is right now.
Being that more than half of the world’s population uses social media and technology, McNamee’s article is very beneficial. Overall, I found the article to be very persuasive, interesting, and reliable. Now knowing these different facts, and information from the inside of these countries, it has led me to want to use it less and spend more quality time with the people around me face- to face- rather through an addictive smartphone. McNamee’s intentions of making a change to these companies and how they are run could very well be executed just by this article.
Brookshire, Bethany. “What Is Dopamine for, Anyway? Love, Lust, Pleasure, Addiction?” Slate Magazine, Slate, 3 July 2013, slate.com/technology/2013/07/what-is-dopamine-love-lust-sex-addiction-gambling-motivation-reward.html.
McNamee, Roger. “I Invested Early in Google and Facebook. Now They Terrify Me.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 10 Aug. 2017, http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/08/08/my-google-and-facebook-investments-made-fortune-but-now-they-menace/543755001/.