What is digital rhetoric?

To answer the question “What is digital rhetoric?”, first we must know rhetoric, itself, is.

The Oxford dictionary defines rhetoric as the following:

1. rhet·o·ric



1. the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the use of figures of speech and other compositional techniques.

synonyms: oratory · eloquence · command of language ·


way with words

§ language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect on its audience, but often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content:


In plain terms, rhetoric is how we use our words. Digital rhetoric is simply how we use our words in the digital arena, or in Chase terms: how we use digital media and outlets to speak to/connect with the world.

Access to the Internet started off how most things do — made with the white male in mind. Defining digital rhetoric back then was most likely not too difficult. The language of the digital world was coding. Few people knew coding, which means that even fewer people were a part of the audience. There was one common goal of the digital world back then, and that was to win the space race. Everyone that was a part of this goal was of the same economic, social, and educational backgrounds.

Fastforward to now and things have clearly changed. It’s 2016 folks, and access to the Internet is abundant. Digital rhetoric takes countless forms. This is visible through websites such as BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post, and even sites like YouTube and Twitter. We have discovered new ways to communicate with each other.

Digital rhetoric is new and evolving, who knows what it will look like in the future. It is a blurry field that some have mastered. Digital rhetoric is everywhere and affects our everyday lives.

So how do we know if what we’re saying is impacting the world? How do we get people to trust us and listen to the things that we’re stating? How do we separate our voices from the larger crowd?

There are 7 billion people in the world, all with different social, economic, and education backgrounds.

Appealing to masses has always been hard but when it comes to the digital world I think it is nearly impossible. What some people will find interesting; others will think it dull and boring. This is what makes your personal digital rhetoric either a hit or miss. Take Social Media for example. Why do some people have 100 followers, while others have 10,000? It all has to do with their rhetoric. It is a tricky space to navigate, but with the right tools and a little bit of patience, you can find your audience. Digital rhetoric is all about grabbing the reader’s attention quickly, holding it for a bit, and letting them go.

Whatever audience you find in this digital space, if they appreciate what you have to say, and keep coming back to read more, then you have done well.

- Outerspace Chase

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