I knew from the beginning that the visual component of my project would be incredibly important, but I was never exactly sure of the direction I would take. Honestly, the design of my homepage started as somewhat of a joke: a placeholder until I could think of something better. Interestingly enough, I ended up really liking what I had created (the engagement ring & storm cloud backdrop) because it gave my site the sense of lightheartedness I was aiming for. Obviously this topic is important to me, otherwise I wouldn’t have spent the entire semester writing about it, but I also never wanted to appear judgmental or preachy, so I knew that implementing some form of comic relief (not sure if that term applies here, but I’m going with it) to encourage readers to see my posts as conversational, as if talking to a friend, instead of as a list of criticisms and instructions on how people should behave. Because I decided to keep my mock-up home page, I started playing around with a black and white color scheme. As you can see on my sight, there are pops of color, but for the most part I maintained a grey-ish hue throughout my pages. This can be seen particularly well in the images I selected for my blog posts, which are all black and white. Honestly, I didn’t even realize this was the direction I’d be going in because it was only by chance that the first two images I selected were black and white, but as I continued designing my page, I realized I really liked the aesthetic I had created. This was also very easy to maintain because if I found a picture I wanted to use that was in color (like the digital clock for my “Ru up?” blog post), I simply converted it to black and white; an incredible quick and simple fix! In terms of my images’ content, they’re all pretty self-explanatory because they all reflect exactly what my blog post is about (i.e. my post about Snapchat has a picture of the Snapchat logo). The only post that was a little difficult to find an image for was “Thing (n)…,” but I got really lucky and found an image I loved when scrolling through my Instagram feed one day. Not only did I love the message by itself, but it also fit perfectly with my content! Additionally, there was one image that was incredible important to me to include: my grandparents’ wedding photo. My grandmother was actually the one who inspired me to write about this topic. Every Tuesday we would talk on the phone, and every week she would ask me “so are you dating anyone??” (as Italian grandmothers tend to do). I would always laugh and tell her that dating these days isn’t what it was when she was growing up, and she would always say “well when you find a guy as great as your grandfather, keep him.” My grandparents loved each other more than any couple I’ve ever seen. They were high school sweethearts, and celebrated their 60th anniversary just a month before my grandmother passed away. She used to tell me stories about the dates they would go on, and how well he treated her, and as happy I was to hear these stories, it made me realize how different relationships are today. The best way to describe their relationship was genuine and pure, which is something I can’t say about any relationship I’ve had yet, but is something I hope to have one day. Given this extreme disparity, as well as my desire to honor my grandmother, I knew that their wedding photo would be essential to my site, even if no one else understood the significance behind it.
To be completely honest, I was and still am a bit unclear as to what exactly constitutes as digital rhetoric. However, from what I can gather, it’s creating an argument or a message using technology and digital media. Here’s hoping this is at least somewhat right, because based off of that assumption I’ve selected what I consider to be a super compelling piece of digital rhetoric: the Instagram account Humans of New York.
While the account itself isn’t rhetoric, it’s the images and captioned stories that make up the account which I find to be both compelling and intriguing. You can find the account complete with dozens of photos and captioned stories here. I think this account and how it provides insight into the human psyche works for a number of reasons. For starters, it greatly utilizes the visual aspect. Even without the caption, each photo tells a story, and all of the pictures are clear, vibrant and captivating. Moving on to what I find to be most compelling, the captions, each captioned picture provides a simple quote from the person being photographed, but that simple quote says so much more than the words written. Whether it be a little girl expressing how she “Wants to be a fairy” so her and her friend can “fly around together,” or an old man’s recounting of his beloved wife who passed away, both the pictures and captions expose the raw emotions of each individual.
I think this account is so captivating and moving because it perfectly depicts the complexity of the human species. It’s clear from both the emotions reflected in the photos and the stories behind the stories being told in each caption, that there is so much more to each of these people than what they’re concretely speaking or presenting to the world. The account itself seems to be making the argument that as humans, we often think we might know someone. We might look at an individual and assume one thing, or we might hear something about them and think something else. However, until you take the time to sit and attempt to have genuine conversation with someone (as the person running the account does), you can’t possibly understand who they are or where they’re coming from. You need to hear their stories, and their stories behind their stories to get a better understanding of how an individual became the person they are. Looking and assuming won’t allow you to uncover their layers, but asking them to tell you something just might.