Thursday, March 7, 2013

A broken heart

Why would God ask of us this one sacrifice?
3 Nephi 9:20 (go look it up).
It is only through a broken heart that an individual can truly be made like Christ.
Before the heart is broken it is not open. Imagine a jar that has been shut and sealed tight, but it's made of glass. How do you get inside? This is one of those jars you pass around to all your manly friends in hopes they can twist off the lid and give you access to your favorite jarred good. Just imagine that.
Once the jar is tossed and battered it will break and become open to all and everything.

Heart break opens the heart. With an open heart God can make wonderful things, the best of things.

That is why heart break can be a good thing when you put yourself in a situation where God is near.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

You Can: Sensationalist Hooks within a Letter to Students

This is the link to the letter I analyzed.

“Hey you! Sitting there on your couch at home. Check out this brand new amazing innovation which will change your life! It’s everything you’ve ever wanted and everything you’ll ever need from anything you could ever buy on TV!  You would be surprised at how many people don’t know about this! You might even be surprised at how many people you know already own this! You can benefit from this amazing product today if you call this number within the next ten minutes! You deserve it! You know you do!” So screams the typical commercial on any particular TV channel. It might even pop up while listening to your favorite music station on Pandora. This is an inescapable form of persuasion found in short advertisements, aimed at sensationalizing the audience. Such is the tactic of Gideon Burton in his blog post addressed to students. He effectively draws in the audience using the pronoun “you” along with enabling words while setting up stigmatism between the reader and his opposing force, the well-established educational system. Using these tools he convinces the readers to establish for themselves an online identity that will eventually prove more useful than their college degree.
Although the overuse of this informal pronoun can draw the reader in uncomfortably close, Burton quickly and positively establishes his relationship with the audience. “Dear students: I’m about to say something a college professor shouldn’t say to his students . . .” With that the student is already wondering what college professors shouldn’t tell their students. Following this declaration he explains why he’s about to spill the beans, “. . . I care about you a lot. . .” Having shown the reader his personal interest and credibility as an insider’s perspective he then launches into a bombardment of addressing the audience according to this personal relationship. Within the introduction are five sentences using eight forms of the word “you”. Connecting this with words such as “education”, “career”, “creative potential” and “future” brings to mind some of the most important ideas held by the typical undergraduate. Along with these he writes, “You deserve. . .” And so begins assurance and validation of the audience.
The next section begins, “You already know this. . .” giving the reader a sense of ownership and personal credibility on his argument. From this point on Burton slowly adopts a language very familiar to undergraduate students. Referring to the world of learning and the world of play he notes that, “. . . you are pretty much a senior on that campus. . .” The phrase, “pretty much” is likely never found in the writing of a college English professor. For this reason it is obvious to see when Burton begins to use such language. To the reader however, the young college student, this insider is speaking their language and because of that he can be trusted. Shortly thereafter he presents his argument: the structured school system of which we the students are currently in is retarding our future in the digital world. With this challenge to the reader’s future from the system there is an entire paragraph dedicated to the possibility of the student. “You can reach. . .” “You can befriend. . .” “You can get. . .” are encouraging phrases for the reader which builds up confidence against such a threat. Concluding this section is what could be seen as a cheer, “You can shape and share your identity . . . testing what you like, feeding your own passions, carving your own way. What a fantastic time to be alive!” Obviously Burton is on the side of the student in this struggle against the systematic implementation of education.
 Once he’s established whose side he is cheering for there is an immediate play of imagery showing the opposing force. Under “Reality Check #3: Sheepskin vs. Online Identity” Burton describes a future in which the work a student leaves online as a legacy will prove more useful in obtaining employment than what he refers to as the “sheepskin”. This “online identity” will compete with the existing crediting system of colleges and will, “ . . . start those bean counters in the tuition office sweating soon enough.” Tuition at most universities is already a main concern for students, as it tends to be the most costly aspect of a higher education. When those who accept this money are portrayed in this perspective the audience is led to believe that any threat to this income is enough to make them sweat. Further discrediting is made using a joke involving two farmers and the ridicule of their new neighbor who has taken the effort to include PhD in front of his name on his mailbox. After admitting that the joke was, “Kinda lame. . .” Burton then shares a story from a nearby university in which a man falsified his college graduation and yet kept his employment as a CEO because he did his work well. Because of his approach in this article Burton doesn’t give reference to when or where this took place. Most commercial advertisements vaguely cite a study given about their certain product but offer little credible support in the moment. Burtons aim is to incite revolutionary thought within the mind of the audience with one short example after another. This short and punchy style of writing keeps the reader entertained and interested, almost hooked.
Beginning “Reality Check #4: They’re Gonna Scare you” are seven fragments involving exclamation points. “Visible online! Are you crazy!? Plagiarism! Stalkers! Identity Thieves! Old, vengeful girlfriends armed with Photoshop and your mother’s maiden name! All those privacy issues!” Ending this introduction he mocks the supposed threats facing those who use the Internet, “ . . .Yada yada yada.” It’s at this point in the post where the reader could lose some steam. Burton gives an example of a student he hired for the position of president in a club based solely on her personal blog. “Wait Gideon, weren’t you talking about me?” Quickly returning to the informal “you” Burton connects the story to his audience. “You need your own . . .” “Do you get it?” “ . . . show your thinking.” “Have you started one yet?” “Show me your think . . .” “Show us how and where you connect, and how you mash up your world. Be a DJ to your own groove.” That’s more like it. Once given the attention and flattery it is vital that Burton keeps up the pace. Any lull in the pitch must be punctuated with more of what the reader wants to hear. This is when Burton puts forth his observation of what’s happened to the undergrads of this generation.
                “And here comes the triple whammy for college students. Once you are in the machine, clutching the sacred syllabus in one hand and shelling out Benjamins for textbooks with the other—once they have you. . .” Painted here is an image familiar to each student who has ever taken part in the university program. “Holy trapped in Old School!” These ideas give way to “Reality Check #5” in which Burton relates a long and arduous account of the lobotomizing pace at which college academia makes change. This section contains the least of his informal address to the reader, lending to the contrast of this from the other parts of his post. Readers will not like this section as much as the others because although it involves them it is periphery and not directly about them. Given the imagery of a faculty and curriculum set in stone it seems an impossible task to move forward with the system. Using this, Burton sets the reader up to think more on what they personally can do.
                “Listen to me students! Your education is far too important to wait for academia to catch up! The train is moving and you know it! You’re already on it!” These exclamations head the concluding reality check in which Burton combines both the idea of the students with power and ability and the impossibly immovable college education. Setting up the reader against the system he furthers the drive to push against what is by pleading with the reader, “Don’t let them shape you into a drone . . .” In a culture where Americans have developed stigmas for systems that control them this is an effective image. College is supposed to be more than that according to Burton. He encourages the reader to “Give yourself the best. . .” and to “Trust the [professors] who give you their cell phone numbers. . .” The second being a practice he himself professedly includes in his classes as mentioned only four paragraphs prior. This screams, “Trust me” and the audience will at this point trust Gideon Burton because he’s given them reason to believe he’s on their side. Hasn’t this same cry for trust been heard from the former infomercial salesman Billie May?
                The entertaining and sensationalist style of Burtons blog post keep the reader until the argument is presented and explained. Students within the higher education system will long for the freedoms he professes they deserve. Coming from an egocentric culture of consumerism these same American students play into the flattery that comes with the familiarity established by Burton early in his post. He speaks to them directly and portrays a system bent on keeping them from their own opportunities. Well done Gideon Burton for writing like the typical American commercial.