waters of human experience are constituted by both pragmatic and
semantic droplets, whose fuzziness, i.e., whose indiscriminatory shaping,
effects ever increasing concentric circles of associates. Our semantic nodes
ultimately touch everyone. Akin to rain, which wets wherever it falls, from the
hardest encasement to the softest loam, from the driest role to the most
fascinating, our dispositions, ideologies, and powers of invention are
nourished as well as are checked by relatively unstable communal, private, or
combined definitions. Sometimes, we capture those influences essences by
scrutinizing the processes and products of rhetoric. Other times, we look to
nonrhetorics for acumen (Foucault. 1977).
It would suit us to
become more cognizant of our statements sway. We ought not to confine our
examination of communications impact to the nature of meaning nor merely
pursue technical insights about verbal collaborations. If possible, we should
become more aware of our liabilities as audiences. After all, we spend
approximately seventy to eighty per cent of our communication time receiving
information (Lee and Delmar).
readers have transactional accountability. We are more than passive
participants in ideas flow. In view of that, its insufficient for
us to rely on deconstructions of socio-psychological influences on language or
to look to spotlights on communicative motives. Much of languages reality
shaping capacity derives from audience perceptions whether the messages
attended to are based on idolatry or on disinterested hypothetic-deduction, and
whether they are beneficent or venal metatheories. See, if its possible
to arbitrate the nature of a messages source, then it's equally possible
to pass judgment on a messages receivers. At the end of the day, given
impressions manipulative ability, its vital to control how and why
we grant authority.
Some of our
understandings of audience duties are less abstract than others. Our ranking of
and feelings about encounters have a purely social reality
so far as they are expressions or embodiments of
it follows as a matter of course, that value can only manifest
itself in the social relation of commodity to commodity (Marx). That is,
the worth that we attribute to exchanges, in turn, bears upon our willingness
to be chargeable for them.
passively accept positions assigned to us. On such occasions, we seek
(demographic) differences among people, viz., assign merit for interactions
based on where, among social strata, rhetors are located. This layering of
ascribed importance makes speakers and writers anxious and fuels ill-informed
consumerism within the marketplace of ideas.
Yet, we abstain from
censuring what we hear or read. First of all, most of us ordinary members
of of society dont want to be incumbered by rejecting our rulers.
As listeners/readers, we respond in a relatively standard way [; via] the
use of altruistic message strategy
Sadly, our social channels are
more inclined to temper their worst impulses instead of facing public
protests (Putnam, 346). We disregard that selflessly rendered
messages are usually tainted by imbedded economic incentives or other
enticements because its tough to be a dissenter.
stay confused about who ought to establish heuristics for our moral
agendas, [and] we mistake the essence of public moral[ity] for the essence of
private moral[ity] (and vice versa) (Greenberg, 2005, 5). If we were to
become more liable for what we listen to and read and take ownership of our
acceptance of messages, wed have increased control of our benchmarks.
A second harm of our
refusing to be culpable audiences is the resulting distorted self-perception.
At present, our concept of ourselves is often far removed from reality. Whether
its hit and run accidents, ripping off insurance adjusters, taunting the
elderly, or engaging in other allowable past times, our conduct has
become that of schoolyard bullies; it reflects no commitment from us to build a
helped by limiting egg-throwers freedom when we also fall flat in
quashing pejorative addresses. Respectively, were poorly represented by
policies meant to curtail cold-hearted actors receipt of kindness when
such controls likewise decrease good hearts attaining the same. As long
as we dont discriminate among messages, well remain a
populous that construes suppression as expression. More
accurately, censorships complement is
emancipation, the freedom to use critical/creative thinking to
determine the meaning of self. Indubitably, we must
consistently and predictably deliberate others unconscious, unspoken
arguments (as well as their readily discernible ones). Else, well never
ponder composites beyond Instituted concords, never bring to light
our unremitting audience tasks, and never probe others projections for
our future. When we eschew unbiassed analysis and evaluation of issues, we
abdicate our autonomy. Thus, the contemporary gist of self is a
mere cognitive Band Aid.
A third loss that we
incur from failing to contest our reliance on transmitted tenets is our
increased belief that we will always be disenfranchised. We think that
weve divorced ourselves from the function of media patrons, and that that
weve rejected novelty entertainment. After everything, our
actions bode otherwise.
In recent years, our
support of the @MeToo crusade became our backing of the Black Lives Matter
program, which, sequentially, transformed into our caring about the
patriots who stormed the USAs capitol.
Correspondingly, weve paid small fortunes for the chance to join
talent shows (Americas Got Talent Tickets), line the pockets
of influencers (Christison) or read pulp fiction (Miller).
Whats more, weve applauded those suspect efforts until we realized
that sustaining them was too arduous (never mind dubious) for us to
continue to endure.
axiomatic bunkum has become widespread fare. That we pay attention to
representatives of select enterprises more than we heed our educators and
clergy is well documented. That we take note of media, in general, more than
take exception to any popularized myth, too, is expressively precarious.
Communications professor James S. Ettema and journalism professor Theodore L.
Glasser point out in Custodians of Conscience: Investigative Journalism and
Public Virtue that humanitys demand for objective coverage is
nothing more than a simplistic call for [the] resolution of uncertainty
in favor of more objectivity and less indignation (66). The cost of
allowing others to think for us is having to tolerate (their) external
referents for authentication, not adjudicate ideas ourselves.
For example, many
onlookers feared that their opinions on the most recent Olympics might have
been categorized as tosh by their cohorts, so, in lieu of opposing
ill-treatment of interviewees by the media, they silenced themselves. As a
result, few criticisms surfaced about the nature and kind of backstories about
young athletes and, not only did boulder climbers, equestrians, and gymnasts
became social heroes, but so, too, did television, radio, and
automated platform journalists, especially ones who insistented on
acclaim, no matter the degree or kind of bavardage that their commentary
included or in which they encouraged their readers/listeners to involve
A fourth upshot of
our inertia is our long-term emphasis on competition
over compassion. Our answerability for civic insensitivity languishes given
our fragmented personal ethics. Sure, decentralized social movements voice
disapproval of viciousness and similar organized efforts challenge aggressions
visited on certain social segments. Nevertheless, if we were more unified over
scruples than dread, wed be better at disputing discourse advancing
hatred and wed be better at raising our voices against our bad
These days, we
suffer from a dearth of reliable community, religious and work organizations
because we have not taxed our managers to be principled or balked when they
failed to perform in an upright way. Over and above, changes in our cultural
symbols, rules of behavior, and officialdoms become infested with ethical
twists and turns when we dont take proprietorship of our audience
heads means emptying, or, in the least, ignoring our own. We cannot both
vacuously kowtow to reputable sources and claim that we are not actionable.
Linguistic ploys, expressly those utilized by individuals in control, maintain
gradations are the degrees of excellence that we assign to institutions. The
sense that we make out of pooled correctness, or the lack thereof,
originates nor in our discrete minds but in our common explanations
and in the uncontested elucidations our heads of state make.
Whether we want, for instance, to pay taxes, we are obliged to share our income
with our government. Even if we want our officials to be sagacious, e.g., to
bring about humane routes, we must anyway abide by their (foolish) decisions.
For us patrons of all manner of outlandish words and images, silence is
problematic, not golden.
Fortunately, some of
us who, hitherto, have not been advocates for audience accountability, have
become increasingly aware, able, and willing to articulate that identity and
behavior ought not to derive, always and unquestionably, from peripheral points
of validation. We grasp that the fourth estate stirs up our feelings about more
than brands of living room furniture or imported face masks. This idea is
supported by British philosopher and psychologist, Rom H. Harré, who
writes in his seminal work, Personal Being, the morality of the exercise
of personal power must include a discussion of the moral issues that surround
weakness[es]. Our sense of self, needs to reach clear of
for us, if we are to make our paradigms more credible, to take action over
hurtful events, to reject some archetypes, and to mistrust specific statutes.
We are capable of authentically accept[ing], at the highest levels of
abstraction, the possibility of the existence of our [experiential]
diversity (Greenberg, 2003, 24). Meaning, we are capable of thinking for
ourselves and in doing, of so scaffolding our civil liberties.
On the other hand,
if we keep on confining our exploration of invention to exposes of
superficial/outside features, we will be stuck with limited insights into
meaning and rectitudes nexus, i.e. with limited insights into our part in
interchanges and into suggested rationale for audience communication
By not shouldering
our obligations as listeners and readers, in other words, by ignoring our
confusion about who ought to set up the rules-of-thumb that guide our
decision-making on our moral agendas, by accepting distorted self-perceptions,
by acceding to false ideas about our rhetorical shortcomings, and by tolerating
the ongoing weight attributed to antagonism oppositely to cooperation, we
experience significant losses. In sum, there are few gains inherent in
maintaining our status quo of forsaking end user responsibilities. Its
imperative that we become accountable.
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