Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 2016


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Communication and Rhetorical Studies


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Janie Harden Fritz

Committee Member

Ronald Arnett

Committee Member

Richard Thames


Communication, Discourse, Media Ecology, Phenomenology, Rhetoric, Technology


Humans naturally communicate, but choose to use tools. They use them to make sense of things, even to their own detriment and the detriment of others. These tools often receive the attention, instead of the human interaction. Aristotle's notion of humans as social animals has been carried into media ecology scholarship by Arendt, Burke, Ellul, Mumford, Postman, and Ricoeur. Social media scholarship has often focused on the tool and how it affects humanity. However, a phenomenological approach is necessary, as humans communicate with or without these tools. This approach will follow multiple steps. The first is through an understanding of the historical lens of civic discourse from antiquity to contemporary society. The second step is to examine why Aristotle's concept of ethos still matters in social media. The third step warns how social media could be shaped into a "knack" environment and lead to a synthetic ethos. The fourth step analyzes how interpersonal communication interacts with social media, as well as how a noble friendship can be established in social media. The fifth step exposes how humanity is unfortunately using technology to revise modernism in a postmodern age. The sixth step details how humans can reconcile social media-in-itself with social media-for-itself. This multi-step approach seeks to understand how social media fit in humanity, and also how humans fit in social media. These steps puts a focus on humans having choice and free will, and thus, responsibility. The approach in this document is more concerned with understanding the medium and then understanding how choice affects human action and direction.