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Rachel Pulver

Professor Comeaux

ENG 102: First-Year Composition

17 February 2019

Big Fat Liar

Humans as a collective group are curious creatures who inquire after the how and the

why. Is it black or white, positive or negative, Ying or Yang? The answer never can be grey. The

NBC journalist, Sarah DiGiulio, published an article in 2017 that addressed the arguments of

smartphones titled “Your Smartphone is changing the Human Race in Surprising Ways”. It

attempts to provide the reader with a neutral outlook of this hot topic ,but is it really? The neutral

stance in this article is deceivingly bias and subliminally leads the reader to settle on the negative

side of the smartphone argument.

Unraveling the smartphone discussion, the author presents the reader with a rhetorical

question altering their perception on the ever-changing world of smartphones. She writes:

Will someone born in 2017 ever unfold a map to determine the best driving route

from New York City to a small town in Massachusetts? Will they memorize a

phone number other than their own? Will they grow up to be smarter because

their mind is no longer cluttered with mundane facts and the processes technology

can do for us?” (DiGiulio)

This opening paragraph is geared toward an older audience who remembers what it is like

to be driving with an atlas wide open on the wheel of their car or even having to carry an address

book in their bag. If the nature of the article was to come off as nonbiased, as the author claims

to do the introduction should have included both spectrums of the audience members, who share
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different opinions. The pathos in the beginning lines stirs nostalgia and sadness in the older

audience along with remorse toward the rising phone generations, who will never experience the

authenticity of life in the way that they did. In doing so DiGiulio shames the younger crowd of

readers with her wording and literary construction. For example, in the above quote the author

pairs the beginning two questions with a latter question which poses an issue of kairos, which

does not aide her neutral stance. Due to the latter question coming after the two preceding lines a

juxtaposition is created. A juxtaposition is when two contradicting images or text are placed next

to each other offering an altered affect than if they were to be alone. The latter question reads,

“Will they grow up to be smarter because their mind is no longer cluttered with mundane facts

and the processes technology can do for us?” (DiGiulio). Alone this quote can be seen as good or

bad. Read by itself the audience may think of how technology is positively or negatively

impacting their lives and if it is indeed making them smarter, but because of the preceding two

questions which reads, “Will someone born in 2017 ever unfold a map to determine the best

driving route from New York City to a small town in Massachusetts? Will they memorize a

phone number other than their own?” (DiGiulio). This creates a negative connotation bleeding

into the latter question. The kairos in this quote shows poor timing on behalf of developing a

strong argument for both sides.

Continuing to reinforce the author’s biased approaches, DiGiulio immediately dives into

a combination of ethos and pathos retorts wich discreates her neutral stance. DiGiulio quotes,

“‘We’ve never had a technology that we use so intensively for so many different things,” says

Nicholas Carr, author of “The Glass Cage: How Computers Are Changing Us”’ (DiGiulio).

From this exchange of thoughts, the author has gained credibility by name dropping Nicholas

Carr, a credible source, who is a professional writer in the field of technology. This quote tugs on
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the ears of the audience and makes them listen to the following claim due to who is saying it. In

a later quote, DiGiulio starts to deconstruct the feelings of how the negative side sees things by

pointing out, “how constant connection via technology has altered human processes of thinking.

She goes on by reflecting on the past explaining that sources of our information use to come

from socializing and experiencing the world. She ends with saying how we use to be by

ourselves with only our thoughts and now we are alone with our phone” (DiGiulio).

Logos and pathos are used in this verbal concoction making each and every audience member

reflect on how their use of technology and if it has morphed them for good or bad. The attempt to

stay neutral does not last long when a case of kairos is presented. The following information

proceeding this quote proves that smartphones are not so smart for us disproving the article’s

efforts to stay neutral. The quote says:

“‘But it becomes much much harder to practice the attentive types of thinking —

contemplative thought, reflective thought, introspective thought,” Carr says. “That

means it’s very hard to translate information into rich, highly connected memories

that ultimately make us smart and intelligent.’” (DiGiulio)

The author engages the audience with ethos and pathos by making the audience

experience fear and worry for what their smartphone is doing to them. Once again Carr is being

quoted saying a bombshell of a truth making the readers believe what is being said. The word

thought is repeated three times in this quote giving the word emphasis and meaning in the

context of this quote. Are smartphones making us dumb: Can we no longer think or have

thoughts? Can we no longer take full advantage of our lives enjoying its beautiful memories?

The author makes the reader think these thoughts. The author uses insightful pathos and logic by
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attacking what really matters to us: our individuality. Using Carr’s quotation in the text was a

prudent use of rhetoric.

Directly after what Carr said another ethos strikes when Dr. Turkle is quoted:

“‘Our relationship with technology affects how we communicate. But it also

affects the deeper ways we interact and connect with people, according to Dr.

Sherry Turkle, professor of the social studies of science and technology, at MIT

and author of "Reclaiming Conversation." […] If you can’t be alone with your

own thoughts [ever], you can’t really hear what others have to say because you

need them to support your fragile sense of self,” Turkle told NBC MACH in an

email. “True empathy requires the capacity for solitude.’” (DiGiulio)

Dr. Sherry Turkle a professor of social studies of science and technology empowers the

credibility of her pathos which crushes smartphones as a whole. Dr. Sherry Turkle questions

about humanity and tells of humanity’s backward evolution that technology has done to us. Our

empathy is slowly being deleted with every text, like, post and isolating means of

communication that is being sent out in cyber space. There is too much cyber space between us

all and no one to fill the void. The pathos rings loud with this quote and logically tells the effects

of smartphones.

Despite the overwhelming evidence that has been provided to support what has now

become a well-developed claim against smartphones. Nevertheless, DiGiulio now starts to talk

about the other side of the coin just barely letting the audience see the other side. Considering

that this is the first mention of the positive side of the argument it stands to show how DiGiulio

is making her overall article weak. The author quotes Dr. Keith Hampton, a professor at

Michigan State University, who believes that smartphones are opening new pathways for
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connecting people as a unit in the real and virtual world by exhibiting ethos into the evidence.

Paraphrasing Dr. Hampton words, “technology has connected us by allowing individuals to

maintain and gain their own vast social networking systems thus solidifying old and new

relationships of individuals. Ties are now kept instead of broken by distance and is now

strengthened with the pathways technology offers people” (DiGiulio).

Logos is achieved through Dr. Hampton’s words along with pathos as Hampton describes

how relationships use to be broken by bad blood but rather now relationships are being broken

by distance or lack of contact. The author strategically adds this to evoke the past memories of

the audience: sadness, joy and nostalgia, which makes the reader connect with the article on a

personal level. This makes it easier for the reader to be persuaded to think positively about

smartphones due to how smartphones hold relationships together no matter how far the parties

may be in the world. Once DiGiulio has opened the hearts of the readers, she uses ethos by citing

a case study that shows how smartphones are fortifying bonds between individuals. Reinforcing

the above evidence that was previously stated.

Once more, DiGiulio’s neutral stance does not stay long but rather she ends up tipping

the scales in favor of the negative again leaving the positive claim weak. She begins to

complement the need for smartphones with a case study unfolding a powerful argument of ethos

but ends up clashing her two efforts together by contradicting the positive stance. This leads the

reader to become confused due to her biased reporting. DiGiulio writes:

“‘In a recent study, Storm and his colleagues found that offloading one piece of

information— even the simple act of saving a computer file — actually made it easier to learn an

unrelated piece of information. In that way, our digital devices have become a memory partner
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— you can make more room for new information in your brain when you store and access other

information digitally” (DiGiulio).

So far so good, DiGiulio finally is showing the audience the positives on smartphones.

By using this text in the article DiGiulio reveals appeals of ethos and logos. She develops logos

by citing this case study and explaining how offloading works to enhance one’s capacity to

remember. The audience is able to make their own claims about smartphones due to the logic

this quote offers to the reader. The quote continues by saying:

“‘The concern, however, is that too much “digital offloading” means we might

miss out on the mental connections that make us more creative and intelligent,

Storm explains — “and that offloading may prevent us from developing the same

sort of expertise as we would otherwise.’” (DiGiulio)

Every time DiGiulio gives an authentic view of the positive side of smartphones she

always discredits it with a contradicting piece of evidence. This makes her article’s voice

extremely bias adding another mark for the negative side of the smartphone debate. This is a

fault on behalf of the author. In this particular quote the reader is misled by kairos and by the

order of information. DiGuilio clearly sets the stage for the reader to listen about the positive

side but then soon after uproots it with the opposite evidence. This could be seen as a good way

to help readers see from all sides but not when she constantly morphs the arguments to slant

toward the negative.

As a. whole, DiGiulio wants to show both sides of the smartphone argument, but sadly

spends too much of her time proving the negative side. She claims to give a neutral stance but

uses kairos by discrediting the previous evidence used to building up the positive stand point.

DiGiulio’s tactics are confusing for the reader who wants to hear both sides. In the end the reader
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will leave with more remarks on the negative stance of the smartphone debate which will lead

the reader to unintentionally develop a bias opinion on the smartphone topic. The author does

injustice to the masses on both sides of the spectrum. DiGiulio quotes from Storm in the

concluding paragraphs that, “deciding whether the changes that technology brings upon the

human race is good or bad is never that simple or clear” (DiGiulio). I believe it is that simple

because DiGiulio has done so through her biased reporting and under the table sabotage she uses

in her rhetoric.

Works Cited

DiGiulio, Sarah. “Your Smartphone Is Changing the Human Race in Surprising

Ways.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 12 Apr. 2017,