Tuesday, January 27, 2009

geeks and getting personal (ads, that is)

Here's how geeky my rhetoric-composition friends and I are: we rhetorically analyzed my online dating profile.

Believe it or not, I've conducted a class activity in which students need to write a dating profile (it's a good way for them to think about word choice, rhetorical appeals, audience, etc.) -- the best is when the students get so into it that the girls start reading the guys' profiles, the guys start reading the girls' and each gives the other feedback. ("I would so date you..." "I would think you're a stalker..." etc.)

Anyhoo, I'm getting a little personal here, but recently I jumped back into the online dating pool, and, of course, I composed multiple drafts, revising along the way. So this past Sunday, I had invited some of my girlfriends over for a dessert party (and I wonder why I'm so easily categorized as a chick lit writer), and aside from talking books, movies, and music, the conversation got around to dating.

And so, I showed them my profile, and lo and behold, we found ourselves dissecting one part of my text, namely one in which I adamantly state that I'm not interested in having kids nor dating men w/ kids (ok, this is getting *really* personal now... yikes). I had explained my rhetorical intent--be strong in my conviction without sounding selfish or like a child-hater-- and we discussed to what extent my text had achieved this intent. Before I knew it, I was peeling back my own layers -- what was I really trying to say? Rather, what was at the heart of my conviction? Why?

And so, at that moment, I put the truth on the table.
"Why not be that explicit?" asked one of my peer reviewers. "Why not use the words you used just now? Why not show that little bit of vulnerability?"
"Because I thought it made me sound incredibly selfish," I explained.
"I think if phrased well, you would convey your sincerity as well as your honesty, and men would respond w/ a much greater understanding than you have now, not to mention support."

I pondered this.

"If I re-write it, can I send it to you guys so you can workshop it before I actually post the profile?"

What made it all the funnier was that despite our laughter over my request, I was serious, and they knew it. What's more, I knew they were all too eager to help me craft my message.

As much as I love working w/ students, and helping them arrive at the place where they "get" it, there are times when it is all the more satisfying to be with those who already get it, who so intrinsically get it and revel in it and can't live any other way. Those times are fun. Those people are my colleagues, my friends, my collaborators and co-creators. Those are my teachers. And I love them dearly for it. We are all a perfect match for each other.

After we finished my profile, we searched potential match profiles and rhetorically analyzed them. Oh, to be a fly on our wall-- a male fly w/ an online profile, that is.

We're all one status update away from putting together a panel discussion on the rhetorical value of Facebook across various age groups.


Stacey Cochran said...

Happy Birthday!

Elisa said...

thanks, Stacey!! It was a great day!