The Issue of Innovations in Bill Keller's Article "The Twitter Trap"

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As the centuries have progressed, so have technological innovation. These innovations change every day and affect how we live our lives. New York Times editor Bill Keller argues in his article, “The Twitter Trap”, that this technological innovation comes with internal consequences. He provides examples throughout the text of ways technology has altered how humans live their everyday lives. Keller mentions how technology has “outsourced” our brains, and we now focus on truly irrelevant content. Although the author fails to provide insight on opposing views, Bill Keller’s argument is strengthened through his credibility, “his” experiences, his word choices, and his tone, thus, persuading the reader effectively. Throughout the article, the author precedes his reasons with examples that strengthen the point he is trying to make to his argument. The authors first support for his claim comes from a best selling book, Moonwalking with Einstein. Keller compares modern society to the fifteenth century.

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He states that “ until the fifteenth century, people were taught to remember vast quantities of information” and continues by saying that today that kind of memory would “qualify you as a freak” (Keller). Including this example, Keller demonstrates to the reader the big contrast of how things were without technology. It supports his claim by pointing out what traits, as humans, we have lost or given up just because of technology. In addition, the fact that the author pulled the example from a best selling book, appeals to his ethos demonstrating to the reader that he conducted research and searched for things to back up his argument. Keller appeals to his reader’s emotions throughout the article and evokes a sense of guilt to the reader with his word choice and anecdotes. This causes the reader to reflect on themselves and relate back to the examples Keller uses throughout the article. He begins his article with an anecdote about his family, explaining how he and his wife let their daughter join Facebook. When he saw how many followers his daughter accumulated within hours, he states that “[he] felt as if [he] has passed [his] child a pipe of crystal meth” (Keller).

The use of the bold statement “a pipe of crystal meth”, is effective at moving the reader’s emotions. The thought of any parent giving their child narcotics is very upsetting, but Keller uses this statement for this purpose exactly. This statement exaggerates a situation to show the reader how addicting technology, or in this case, social media can be. Then towards the end of his argument Keller emphasizes that “ we may be unlearning tweet by tweet – complexity, acuity, patience, wisdom, intimacy” and claims that these “are things that matter” (Keller). These are all qualities that most people strive to have and by the author saying we are losing all of these things to technology evokes a sense of guilt. The reader would feel guilty because we are all victims to the technology hole and have gone down it at some point. This causes the reader to reflect on themselves and maybe ask themselves if they have fallen for the trap and are slowly losing traits that make us essentially human.

The timing of Keller’s article strengthens his argument by appealing to kairos. He uses examples that add to his credibility but uses recent examples that prove his claim is still relevant. This allows the reader to be able to relate and adds fluidity to the article. Keller describes a conversation he had with U.C.L.A. professor and highlights that “even very smart students, conversant in the Excel spreadsheet, don’t pick up patterns in data that would be evident if they had not let the program do so much of the work” (Keller). By consulting with a college professor, from a highly recognized school, Keller strengthens his appeal to ethos but also demonstrates that these are recent conversations he had to write this article. All of this is relevant to the present because social media could not be more popular and more and more companies are releasing software programs and even apps that do everything in the blink of an eye. Keller released his article at a relevant time, where his claims would not be dismissed and where he had recent evidence to strengthen his argument all in all.

Although Keller had many strengths to his argument, he failed to address the opposing side, which slightly weakens his argument. Keller briefly mentions the opposing side to his argument by stating “[he] gets that the Web reaches and engages a vast, global audience, that it invites participation and facilitates – up to a point – newsgathering” (Keller). By failing to provide more insight on the opposite side of his argument, Keller fails to prove why his side is stronger. The brief mention of an opposing view was not enough to strengthen Keller’s claim and hurts his credibility. The opposing side should have been addressed to show that the author acknowledges different viewpoints and support why his viewpoint is more substantial. Even though Keller does not address conflicting sides, he effectively persuades his reader that social media and technology may be causing damage, that isn’t even being noticed. Word choice and appeal to ethos, pathos, and kairos compel the reader to reflect on themselves and how technology has been impactful in society. Overall, Keller suggests that while innovations might be improving every day, ultimately our advancements may also be chipping away our humanity little by little.

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