Burke’s Unending Conversation in the Social Media Age

Imagine that you enter a conversation thread. When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for them to even notice that you’re there, but it’s okay because it’s all archived. You listen for a while, like/heart a few things, and click through to various links, until you decide that you have caught the tenor of the argument; then you put in your oar. Someone answers; you answer them; another comes to your defense with an inforgraphic; another aligns himself against you, to either the embarrassment or gratification of your opponent, depending upon the quality of your ally’s clickbait title. Someone calls someone else Hitler. However, the discussion is interminable and you don’t really care that much—you were just trolling. The hour grows late, you must depart. And you do depart, with the discussion still vigorously in progress, but it’s okay, because you can always read the rest of the comments later if you’re so inclined.

Kenneth Duva Burke, from the Philosophy of Literary Form in the Social Media Age

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