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Rhetorical Analysis What’s the Matter with Kid’s Today by Amy Goldwasser

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“What’s the Matter with Kids Today,” composed by Amy Goldwasser, is a strong argument against the assumption that Internet and other new found technology is worthless. Goldwasser begins her argument by giving you examples of the opposing view. For instance, within her first three paragraphs she gives many negative views against Internet use, one being a survey conducted by a research organization called Common Core. “A phone (land line!) survey of 1,200 17-year-olds… researched Feb. 26, found our young people are living in “stunning ignorance of history and literature.” (Goldwasser 666) This survey led to the acceptance speech of Doris Lessing, a British novelist and playwright, for winning a Nobel Prize in literature, where she referred too many as “a fragmenting culture,” and states that, “young men and women… have read nothing, knowing only some specialty or other, for instance, computers.” (Goldwasser 666)

While the reader may think he or she is reading an opposition against the Internet, Goldwasser lures her readers in by quickly doing a 180, and questions Lessing’s belief about the Internet and modern day technology. “The Internet, according to 88-year-old Lessing (whose specialty is sturdy typewriters, or perhaps pens), has seduced a whole generation into its inanities,” (Goldwasser 666) Goldwasser replies, “Or is it the older generation that the Internet

has seduced — into the inanities of leveling charges based on fear, ignorance, and old-media, multiple-choice testing?” (Goldwasser 667) Amy Goldwasser seems to have two intentions in her piece: One, to persuade the older generation to believe in the endless potential of the Internet—to make them believe the Internet is not “the villain,” “… stop presenting it as the enemy of history and literature and worldly knowledge, then our teenagers have the potential to become the next great voices of America.” (Goldwasser 669) Two, to encourage the young audience who does have access to the Internet to keep using technology to their advantage, so that maybe one day they can be recognized and appreciated just as Lessing was in 2007. (Goldwasser 669) Goldwasser claims, “One of them, 70 years from now, might even get up there to accept the very award Lessing did — and thank the Internet for making him or her a writer and a thinker.” (Goldwasser 669) Having two goals does not subject Goldwasser’s writing to just one target audience.

This in one sense is what gives her argument so much strength. To support her opinion, Goldwasser uses Logos, and gives the readers many convincing benefits of the Internet. When talking about teenagers she states that they are becoming writers in their own time because of texting, e-mailing, blogging, and IM’ing. “They’re connected, they’re collaborative, they’re used to writing about themselves. In fact they choose to write about themselves, on their own time…” (Goldwasser 667) In response to Common Core’s view of teenagers “living in stunning ignorance,” Goldwasser replies that in the survey many teens knew much valuable information such as, who Martin Luther King was, and what To Kill a Mockingbird was about, simply because they have Internet. “This is, of course the kind of knowledge we should be encouraging.” (Goldwasser 667) Although the findings that one out of every four adolescents didn’t know who Adolf Hitler was, Goldwasser gives a strong argument that if the parents, or the older generation had spent time with teenagers to teach them, then we wouldn’t have this problem. “If we worked with rather than against, the way this generation voluntarily takes in information—we might not be able to pick up the phone and expose tragic pockets of ignorance.” (Goldwasser 668)

Throughout Goldwasser’s informative text she uses Pathos in a humorous way. This makes her article more appealing to any age group in the “it’s funny, cause it’s true” kind of way. One example is in her explanation of how teenagers have “consumed cultural phenomenon,” such as: “IPods, ITunes, iPhones, Harry Potter, High School Musical; large hot drinks with gingerbread flavoring.” (Goldwasser 667) We can all relate to her example because everyday teenagers are carrying the latest technology with them, watching the latest movies, and loitering at Starbucks. In another example Goldwasser compares the older generation to “the mean girls.”

Assuming you’ve seen the comedy movie Mean Girls, you would know she is saying the adults are using the Internet as a burn book, and labeling it. “…driven by the same jealousy and insecurity.” (Goldwasser 668) Goldwasser’s attempt to persuade her audience of the positive effects of the Internet and other forms of new found technology was successful. Although she uses Logos and Pathos to her advantage, her text sometimes seems to lack confirmation. She states, “Had a parent introduced 20 minutes of researching the Holocaust to one month of their teen’s Internet life…” that teenagers would be more knowledgeable. (Goldwasser 668) If Goldwasser had thought to put the source of her statistics, her argument would have felt more established. Regardless of her confirmation, her article perfectly sums up why the Internet is by no means the cause of a “fragmenting culture,” but proves it to be a gateway to future authors, and masterminds.

Works Cited

Goldwasser, Amy What’s the Matter with Kids Today (2008) Print.

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