Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Small Change

In his essay titled, “Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted” Malcolm Gladwell, voted one of Time Magazine’s top 100 Most Influential People, argues that contrary to popular belief, the week-ties nature of social media will never amount to the activist movements of our past. He primarily uses ethos, or in other words, works to establish his credibility with the audience.  He first proves that he is knowledgeable about the Woolworth’s sit-in that took place in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1960. He does this by providing great specifics like the names, dates, and what happened not only in Greensboro the days and weeks after, but also what happened in neighboring communities. He even knows how each of the original four protestors knew each other. However, his knowledge in history far surpassed that of just this one Civil Rights movement; it also expanded to World history, black history, and even contemporary knowledge of the goings-on with political upheaval in places like Iran or Darfur. He also reinforces his station by quoting authors, sociologists, journalists, businessmen, all of whom are thought to be well-educated people.  He even goes so far as to discredit some of them in order to further prove the fallacy in their arguments. However, he does make himself appear to be fair by nonetheless presenting each of their sides. His concessions allow him to present his points fairly while pointing out the discrepancies in some opinions of his cohorts. In fact, he even points out how what was once deemed the Twitter Revolution, a movement to promote democracy during the elections, was actually merely Americans commenting on the events taking place in Iran rather than the Iranian people themselves. Yet, is in depth-analysis from a sociological perspective seems to be the factor that ultimately wins over the audience however. He gives prime examples like the web pages set up for Darfur, or bone marrow registry, to illustrate the inefficiency of social media to motivate people to real, sacrificial change like that seen in the Civil Rights Movement. In closing, Gladwell emphasizes the idea that when social media is used for things like helping wall streeters get phones back from teenage girls, it is silly to the same platform could ever bring about revolution.


  1. I would have to agree with this blog post because I do think that Malcom Gladwell used ethos a lot in his essay. He spent a lot of time proving his creditability to the audience. Like this post says, he proves it by providing us with names, dates, and a lot of his history on the Civil Right Movement. However, I also think that he used pathos is this essay as well. I think he did this by providing emotions on how the people sitting at the bar felt and that he would have been scared if he was in that situation. He says, “The four students who first sat down at the lunch counter were terrified. I suppose if anyone had come up behind me and yelled boo I think I would have fallen off my seat.” I think he also gets the emotion across by explain the actions that followed after the sit-in. I think that he was trying to get the audience to understand what the people were going through by telling them that volunteers were beaten, shot at, arrested, and that many black churches were set on fire following the sit-in event that occurred. He explained the emotion by actions. I also think that the majority of his essay was logos because I thought that he was trying to get the audience to appeal to his logic. He was doing this by, saying that social media like Facebook and Twitter have made activism more effective in society.

  2. I agree with this post in addition to Asia’s comment as well. Gladwell uses a lot of ethos to establish his credibility, but what sparked my interest from a reader’s view point was the pathos that he used. Tied in with the various examples of civil protesting that he conveyed in his passage. Gladwell uses pathos very well by setting the scene that conveyed a certain emotion when read. For example the four initial students who started the sit in outwardly seemed courageous and brave. Gladwell later on goes on to describe how terrified the students actually were, and how big intimidating the white males were who stood behind them and yelled racial slurs. I was angered when I read this, which is an appropriate emotional response to Gladwell’s description. Gladwell also shows that he did a lot of research in all the dates, historical names and events that he uses in his passage. What was interesting is how Gladwell explains that the protest grew like wild fire, and one city after another started protesting. Then it became a statewide issue. Along with the growth of protesting came the growth of civil violence. As Gladwell mentioned in his book Churches were set on fire, volunteers were beaten and even safe houses were bombed. All of these examples evoke some type of an emotion from the reader. In conclusion the literary device that I believe Gladwell used best Is Pathos.