Social Authority and Expertise Instead of Traditional Ones

Reading chapters eight through ten at David Weinberger’s book “Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder” I finally found very interesting ideas of how communication and authority have been changing in digital world. For example, Weinberger says, “Individuals thinking out loud now have weight, and authority and expertise are losing some of their gravity” (P. 230). In other words the author says that social networking becomes powerful enough and social influence has now more authority than expert opinion. I think this idea is very topical to discuss with typical representatives of the Internet users because the author’s idea describes exactly what is going on “Online” now.

I am a typical Internet user as well. I also use Facebook or Twitter to ask my friends about different things and share with my experience and daily life topics. None of us is an expert in every field; therefore, we share some experience with each other. Moreover, I use Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter for self-branding showing people what I love so they could know who I am. Creating your own brand is vital nowadays because it may provide a person with social and professional authority and new professional opportunities.

To build my image and authority I am meticulously selecting images and phrases to post. Images may be more implicit way of communication than words. For instance, if I wrote in words at my webpage that I am communicative, proactive, and serious person, I would look pompously. However, if I choose a picture which appeals to these characteristics, it will look more modest and effective way of communication. Thereby, I try to create some kind of authority in my social network as millions of other people do.

Because millions of people build some authority and emphasize similarity to others who are online, everyone has some power to influence and be a “social expert”. Thereby, traditional authority and expertise are losing their influence. Even though the Internet users have their own authorities, I personally think that experts are very important to provide expert opinion as general guideline. Otherwise, it would be chaos. However, social digital influence is steadily increasing. Let’s take for example a challenging case. When I upload some educational data about economics or politics on Facebook, I don’t get any feedback. Then, I have to think how to make my message more visible, noticeable, and effective. I make a rhetorical choice. Should I use an image and text or only the image? What kind of image or text will make my message effective and persuasive? To make a decision is really difficult because text tells explicitly what you want to say, but an image has more implicit context. Thereby, I need first understand my goal and audience in order to make my message more effective and persuasive. Otherwise, I won’t be heard. Consequently, the social networking on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other website influences the way we communicate with others. We influence others and other people, like us, influence us. From rhetorical point of view, new technologies changed the way we communicate and socialize. Moreover, virtual world partially substitutes real world because there are similar rules but different roles. To be noticed, an individual should be creative and interesting for others like him/her.

In conclusion, social networking and new technologies may change our social roles and the way we communicate. Everyone in digital world has some authority and expertise, but traditional authority and expertise are losing some of their influence. To get some influence we make rhetorical decisions in order to make our message more effective and persuasive. Thereby, individuals should be more creative, knowledgeable, and interesting to be like “us”.


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