For our most recent assignment we focused on analyzing what kinds of arguments are most beneficial when it comes to trying to argue a point to change someone’s view on a certain subject matter. There are three common ways of making an argument: logos, which incorporates a writing style based on factual writing and forms of statistics; ethos, which an author uses to establish credibility and trust; and pathos, which an author uses as an appeal to someone’s emotions in order to make them feel a certain way. In order to develop an understanding of how we could best use these different writing styles to argue a point, we created Reddit accounts and posted in the Change My View subreddit. I had a really hard time thinking of a post to create in this subreddit because at first all of the ideas I had were not about views I wanted to change, rather they were personal views I have had for years. Thus, that made it hard to think of a post because I did not want my views to be challenged. Another part of choosing a topic that was hard for me was that every time I thought of an argument, I immediately thought of a counterargument. I am not a very argumentative person, but I am extremely empathetic and because of this it makes it really easy for me to understand how other people feel in different situations. I was scared that I would be easily swayed and change my opinion right away, in addition to feeling that someone would brutally attack my opinion.
In order to solve this problem I thought about what is relevant to my life now, what kinds of things worry me, and what would be interesting to talk about with other people. I decided to write about tuition and how I do not think that students should have to pay for it. This is a subject I do not know much about, so I felt that I would not feel personally attacked if my idea was challenged. I also have not grown up with this opinion. I thought that I had finally picked out the perfect topic!
The first comments I received proved me wrong. “This is literally what student loans are… You have invented the current system,” said one upfront soul who pointed out to me that this system actually exists, and it is no wonder I believe students should not have to pay for tuition – they do not have to! Although my conversation did not end there on that post, I was extremely disappointed with myself. After all of that thinking and days of going back and forth between what I should write about it was disappointing that someone pointed out a problem with my post in just the first comment. From this I learned right away that when trying to argue a point it is definitely better to understand not only your point of view, but other potential views about the same topic and to understand them well. Since I was not as knowledgeable about different forms of tuition payment, my defense of my argument was lacking because it turns out there was already a solution. As for my actual argument, I tried to go at it from a more emotional stance. I wrote, “this will relieve the stress of being in college for a limited time and having to very selectively choose classes that will be guaranteed to help propel you forward in life” hoping that the words “stress”, “limited”, “selective”, and “propel” would not only make the people sympathize with students who are stressed out and limited, but also inspire them about the future. It turns out that people were not actually very sympathetic though, since a system to solve this already exists and I made myself look as though I did not care as much about the subject.
Upon having this experience, I decided to make a new post a few days later. My second post to the CMV subreddit was “I believe that college athletes should be held to the same admissions criteria as all other students.” In the description of this post I started with a quote from ESPN about special waivers for athletes along with the definition of college, quoted from the Webster dictionary. Using these facts made me appear quite knowledgeable on this subject (I say appear because I cannot be 100% knowledgeable since I am not actually involved in the admissions process), and with a background as a student in college I am also credible since I have seen the results of admissions criteria not being the same for everyone, in terms of the differences in classrooms and motivation between athletes and non-athletes. I actually had really great conversations with fellow Reddit users, and some people argued really good points. I think I awarded deltas to four people, which also demonstrates that I came into this post with an open mind and a desire to really learn more about other people’s opinions on the subject. On this post I was surprised initially at how many people disagreed with my view, as I thought that more people would also feel frustrated that athletes get treated differently during the admissions process. The more I continued to have discussions with the users though, I did realize that athletes also contribute a grand amount of culture to the community of a university, which is why it is so important to ensure that athletes can attend universities. The comments that convinced me the most were ones that appealed to my emotions and demonstrated their knowledge of the importance of college athletics.
The more I discussed this topic with others it seemed as though my argument progressed from establishing my credibility as a person who understands this subject, to bringing in facts about the subject in order to enhance my point of view. After that was when I started to pull at people’s emotions (in terms of how it feels to be in classes with the athletes), and I think this is how it worked for other people too. That being said, I think it is a combination of all three argumentative techniques that work to make the best argument, as without all of them combined how can one really trust or believe a writer? With logos but no ethos the facts may be believable but why should they be trusted?
Realizing this has opened up my argumentative writing to many different paths. I used to write using mainly logos if I was trying to make an argument, but after being thrown into approximately 50 different conversations about a topic I learned that one needs to be able to effectively use all three techniques to best defend and support their argument. It makes it interesting, but it is important to mix the techniques well, or else the writing will be too jumbled and the argument will not end up being as convincing. I think in future academic papers I will still try to incorporate logos as the most important basis for my argument, but I have since learned all argumentative techniques are effective.
cmv2 <– Please click here if you would like to download a document of my interactions within the CMV sub-reddit.