We’re Only Human

Because there is such a drastic difference between my two discourse communities, I chose to focus primarily on psychology, simply because there was a much larger and much more interesting selection of blogs to analyze. After going through quite a few decent ones (i.e. “Mind Hacks”, a blog on the psychology and the neuroscience of what exactly is going on in one’s brain, written by Vaughn Bell, and “Psychology Today” headed by Jonah Lehrer, a blog containing many different articles on the highlights of up to date psychological findings. Both blogs I would whole-heartedly recommend reading) I discovered one that I was automatically attracted to. It may have been the witty little name, or the simplicity if the website, with every little blog post laid out neatly in one place, but whatever it was “We’re Only Human” by Wray Herbert had me hooked right away.

At this point, I’m sure we all know that I would like to have a career in dentistry, but what I have yet to touch on is what would happen if that falls through. There is a reason I major in psychology other than the fact that I believe that I am fairly decent at it: a career in psychology is my back up choice. I like to sit and study people; not in a creepy way, but I just love to observe humans interacting and growing with their ever-changing environments. What I’m trying to say is that human development and behavioral psychology are my areas of interest and strength, and what attracted me to this blog so much is that fact that these are the topics it is based so heavily on.

Because it is a psychology-based blog, it relies very, very much so on all forms of rhetoric. As discussed by Aaron Barlow in his book Blogging America: The New Public Sphere,

Aaron Barlow

rhetoric is the most effective way to appeal to readers. It is the one way to make all arguments and topics of discussion effective, and psychology is especially good at that. Psychology blogs, and just the field of psychology in general, take what they study about humans and essentially apply their findings directly to the subject, i.e. the reader.

The author, Wray Herbert, is a well renowned psychologist who has written many articles and books on the subject of human development. Because he studies and knows just how the human brain operates, he uses this knowledge to alter the perspective of the reader, as well as appeal to ethos, pathos and logos.

Wray Herbert

What carries the ethos in to this blog is his immense experience and reputation in the field of psychology: from research, to writing articles for Psychology Today and The New York Times, to the book he has written. He also is very up to date with current events, and he posts at least once a week, and hardly ever skips. This makes it so that the audience expects a post, and keeps coming back for more, making Wray a much more reliable author.

The pathos and logos are almost seamlessly meshed together in every single one of his articles. He starts a few off with a rhetorical situation, i.e. being put in a high stress situation and having to make a crucial decision (He does this in one of his most recent articles about youth versus age and experience, which is incredibly interesting and I believe everyone should read it). This forces the reader to consider the logical reasoning in each scenario, as well as tying in the emotional reasoning of the reader.

Wray does not write articles pertaining to the more heavily scientific based portion of psychology; more so, he takes this heavy scientific research, sprinkles it with sugar, and puts it into articles that potentially anyone could read. This blog very much so lays in the heart of the “Public Sphere“, a concept introduced by Barlow in his book: humans are able to come together on this blog a learn about social issues and such through psychological findings, and take the suggested solutions from Wray into consideration. Humans love to learn about themselves, because we are always searching for meaning in life and answers to questions that are almost unanswerable. We wish to find reasoning as to why we feel a certain way, and why our brains operate in the ways that they do. The audience that Wray captures is not just the average psychologist but also the everyday human being.  He writes articles such as how one shouldn’t cope with personal insult , and he touches on subjects that are very relevant to today’s society such as where and what age bullying starts to show its ugly face. Wray is able to take his articles and relate them to modern culture. These posts focus mostly on the trials and tribulations of the average human, and he takes his knowledge of human development, and writes articles that include information on self-improvement in areas in which humans may struggle the most and be the weakest, which seems to be the primary purpose of the blog, rather than just creating a boring educational blog. The language that he uses is more conversational the scholarly. Nonetheless, some scholarly language has to be used when Wray is explaining the more scientific areas in the articles, but other than that, there is nothing that is too dense or incomprehensible to the average human mind.

Though he does not get a hefty load of comments, he does seem to get at least a few in every article, showing that he does have a loyal following (though his posts are so interesting and pertinent to everyday life that I don’t see how he wouldn’t gain a loyal following, in fact, I may as well just become one of those loyal followers). Yet another reason for the lack of comments could stem from the fact that his posts are more like articles one would find in a magazine or newspaper, and are much more informational than they are for discourse purposes, neglecting the occasional comment he receives from someone who rejects his ideas and criticizes his findings.

The extent of We’re Only Human’s multimodality really only stays within the lines of basic pictures and hypertextuality. Though some may find this inefficient in some ways, I believe that his posts are strong enough as they are to capture and hold the audience’s attention, without having to spice the articles up with anything but a relevant picture and a link or two; the posts are nice a short and to the point. It is the simplicity of this website that will aid in the reassurance of my return; Every article and link that one could possibly be searching for on the website is right on the home page. This includes a link to where one could buy his book which, like his blog, is about improving the human mind and body, or to where one could find up to date news and other interesting blogs on the home website Psychological Science, and lastly to his actual posts, which are all neatly laid out with a small excerpt from each which keeps the reader wanting more.

A way that the blog connects back to the broader discourse community is that all of the information in the posts is scientifically based. There is not an article that I saw in which Wray projected off into an irrelevant tangent and ranted on about something that was not related to the initial post. Also, this specific blog that Wray is the author of is a part of a much larger community of psychology blogs, so it lies directly in the heart of the discourse community itself.

Because the blog is part of a greater community of blogs, there are very few advertisements on the page besides the blog roll which advertises the home website itself. There is an ad which is relevant to Wray himself and promotes the recent book he wrote, but besides this there is only one external ad from another company. Even then, the external ad is still relevant to the main idea of the blog, advertising an education in psychology, so therefor the advertisement is incredibly effective and relevant to the greater community which views the blog.

There is no doubt in my mind that I will be coming back to read this blog, for he not only posts frequently, but for all of the above reasons. It is such an incredibly well written blog and is so relevant to the current troubles of society that there will always be something to learn from Wray.

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