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2.5: Social Media

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    Social media, like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, has changed how companies make an impact. Customers can leave feedback about an experience with a company through social media by leaving reviews or comments. Companies can post product updates and other information through their social media accounts. All this gives both the business and the consumer a sense of having direct, and immediate, access to one another. Such direct access requires an employee to be an ethical digital communicator.


    No set of rules exists for how to conduct oneself in digital environments, but even with this there are conventions to consider when communicating in digital environments. It is useful to think of ethics as the appropriate actions for relating to others in a given environment. Guidance or governance for effective online communication exists only through general patterns of experiences that accumulate over time. For example, beginning emails with a respectful salutation or filtering images you are tagged in on Facebook are not examples of following rules that are inherently true; instead, beginning emails with a respectful salutation or filtering images you are tagged in on Facebook are useful conventions of digital ethics to abide by because of the patterns of responses to rude emails or inappropriate online photo albums: a lack of response and a lack of a job, respectively. Instead of simply memorizing a set of rules regarding digital ethics, it is more important to consider the rhetorical situation in which you are communicating (see Chapter 1 for a review of the rhetorical situation).

    One of the most immediate reasons why digital ethics are important is because how we construct our digital selves affects the way in which our communication and intentions will be received. The notion that individual ethics impact our arguments is nothing new. Much of how we understand and categorize argumentation today stems from Aristotle’s appeals of logic, emotion, and credibility in relation to the arguments we make. The appeals are generally understood as the means of persuasion, or the idea of how we support our arguments for specific audiences. In Aristotle’s Rhetoric, there are three overarching appeals used to classify how we argue: logic (logos), emotion (pathos), and the character of the speaker (ethos). (For further information about these rhetorical appeals, see “Rhetorical Appeals.”) These appeals are not represented hierarchically as Aristotle penned that the most articulate, effective communicators successfully weaved elements of all three appeals into their arguments.

    An important part of maintaining a solid digital ethos is critically reflecting on your choices of online self-representation and whether or not these choices reflect your goals as a student and as a professional. If your goal is to get a job after graduation, you need to pay attention to the artifacts of language you produce. Your résumé constitutes the logical proofs of your claim, while your cover letter may engage in altering the employer’s emotional disposition. If the employer wants to see who you are as a person, and whether or not they might want to interact with you on a daily basis for a lengthy period of time, they might want to know more about your character. Social media sites often reveal meaningful insights into a person’s character; and, if online self-presentation is a core component to rhetoric, then how well will your arguments stand?

    2.5: Social Media is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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