tumblr rhetoric – all about BREAKING the rules

As I’m interested in how things are rewritten, I am naturally interested in how rhetoric has changed in a digital format. What immediately comes to my mind is Tumblr. On Tumblr, people (of nearly any background you can think of) will often post a mix of written thoughts. They are often personal, but they are also often academic, political (based on reactions to legal changes, scientific discoveries, any and all pursuits). While some of these posts put forth the academic style I am most familiar with when I read about, say, a recent Shakespeare adaptation, more posts employ vastly different rhetorical strategies, born from the web and raised on tumblr. A piece in Shakespeare Quarterly will likely employ a highly formal, academic tone. It will generally be free of charged emotions. You know the deal.

A Tumblr post is different. On Tumblr, you might get the same or nearly equivalent message (thesis – argument – project). What you will also get, however, is maybe an embedded video clip, more often a gifset, or a captioned photoset. Spelling is unimportant. Capitalization is even less important. In fact, a post with proper spelling, grammar, and capitalization looks suspicious on the site. It’s much more common to see (in all caps) “OMFG LET ME TELL U ABOUT THIS FILM. so it starts off….” The tags will take the emotions to the next level. The nuanced analysis stays the same. There is the same focused attention to detail based on argument, but these are personal blogs. And the personal elements remain.