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In the article “A Million First Dates: How Online Romance is Threatening Monogamy,” written by Dan Slater and published in The Atlantic in January of 2013, Slater uses a character by the name of Jacob to discuss how online dating and the availability of so many new potential partners at one’s fingertips is threatening today’s relationships. Not only this, Slater also gives multiple reasonings on how online dating changes a person.
The story begins by introducing the main character, Jacob. After being single after college, and finally investing time in a committed relationship, which ended up not working, Jacob decided to sign up for two online dating sights, Plenty of Fish and Match.com. The story goes into depth the troubles of Jacob’s experience with online dating. Slater includes how Jacob went from being single and looking forward to a long-term committed relationship, to now being interested in multiple woman and only wanting the physical aspect of the relationship. Slater then goes in depth on Jacob’s personal feelings that go along with this. I personally believe there is a prominent argument and thesis made in the article by Slater. While talking about his new book Love in the Time of Algorithms, he mentions his argument “… the rise of online dating will mean an overall decrease in commitment.” Through the use of evidence and rhetorical appeals, I find Slater’s article effective in more ways than none, but the article could have used stronger evidence, and pulled stronger, more credible sources.
Slater immediately appeals to the audience. With the use of Jacob, a very relatable thirty-year old, who has experienced the hardships of the college dating scene, it immediately appeals to a specific audience. With the use of a narrative essay, it uses specific and sensory details to get an audience involved in certain elements and sequence of Jacob’s story. In this article, the specific audience that Slater’s article appeals to is adults between the age of twenty to thirty years of age, as well as people who may use online dating as a main source of meeting potential partners. With the use of a narrative, the tone seems to be conversational, with the article being written in third person. This allows the audience to get a clearer understanding of Slater’s argument.
In Slater’s article, several illustrations created by R. Kikuo Johnson. These are very effective in the argument and appeal to the audience. Each illustration created backs up the arguments above presented by Slater. For example, the main illustration which opens the article (on page fourty), a man who I suspect is Jacob, is on a date with a woman. Underneath the table, Jacob is to be seen on his phone using a dating app. This illustration could match up with a statement made on page fourty-six, “While out with one woman, he has to silence text messages coming in from others. He needs to start pairing down the number of women he’s seeing.” The illustration on page forty-three goes hand-in-hand with some of statements and actions made by Jacob. “After two years, when Rachel informed Jacob that she was moving out, he logged on to Match.com the same day”. I suspect that Slater used visual aids to help his audience connect to the argument. Each visual aid made the argument clearer.
Dan Slater does not overlook possible arguments. Slater brings up one possible objection on page fourty-two with the statement “: the Internet makes it easier for single people to meet other single people with whom they might be compatible, raising the bar for what they consider a good relationship.” Slater also includes Alex Mehr, who is the co-founder of Zoosk, who Slater said “is the only executive I interviewed who disagrees with the prevailing view”. Mehr’s views online dating sites simply as a new way to discover. “‘Online dating does nothing more than remove a barrier to meeting,’ says Mehr. ‘Online dating doesn’t change my taste, or how I behave on a first date, or whether I’m going to be a good partner. It only changes the process of discovery. As for whether you’re the type of person who wants to commit to a long-term monogamous relationship or the type of person who wants to play the field, online dating has nothing to do with that. That’s a personality thing”. Lastly, Slater uses a quote on page fourty-six that says “the internet has made it possible for people to communicate and connect… in ways that have never before been seen.” His rebuttal, though, seems to come with evidence from various sources throughout his article.
The structure used by Slater is very effective. Everything mentioned above grabs the readers attention, making the article memorable in that sense.
From the very beginning of the article, Slater uses rhetorical appeals very effectively. The first pull with pathos is the use of Jacob. Slater uses Jacob to help showcase his argument that online dating can change a person. When Slater describes the relationships of Jacobs’ friends, but also comparing his relationships with theirs, readers might feel a tug on their heart-strings and feel bad for the protagonist. It is also very relatable in the sense that Jacob was having luck when first using the dating sites, so readers who are contemplating these sites, might think that they should try these. The final pull of pathos, which is also a good use of Kairos, is the last sentence of the article, and last mention of Jacob. Jacob says “‘Maybe I have the confidence now to go after the person I really want’ he says. ‘But I am worried that I’m making it so I can’t fall in love.’(Slater,46)” With this being the last sentence, it gets the readers thinking and puts not only Jacob’s situation on the minds of the readers, but the whole article into question. It makes a person think about the role that online dating sites are playing on relationships and individuals’ love lives.
“A Million First Dates” continues to hook the readers emotionally, that then Slater brings in his reasoning and evidence. Most of his credibility is established through founders of multiple dating sites, a divorce attorney and member of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers by the name of Gilbert Feibleman, a University Psychology Professor by the name of Eli Finkel, eHarmony’s relationship psychologist, Gian Gonzaga, and finally Justin Parfitt, a dating entrepreneur based in San Francisco. He also uses a survey by the name of “How has Internet Dating Changed Society?” published by Mark Brooks. Although these could be credible sources, I feel as if some stronger credible sources could have been used. Most of these sources were more opinion based and gave opinionated views. Although Slater’s argument, personally, was effective through the use of rhetorical appeals, his argument could have come off as more opinion based through some of his sources and evidence.
The evidence is very relevant to the argument, but the evidence might lack. The evidence is sufficient to make the argument convincing, but personally, lacked facts and numbers. To make it more convincing and reliable, Slater could have given more statistics about couples or individuals who have used online dating sites. He also uses the word “research” quite frequently. To make his argument stronger, Slater could have been specific about the research he mentioned. This would support his evidence and strengthen his credibility.
Overall, I think Slater’s article is effective, but with some more solid evidence and stronger credible sources, I think readers would really take to the argument made. His use of pathos, and using a narrative, with the help of the protagonist, Jacob, readers were able to connect with the readers on a level most articles aren’t able to do. Since Jacob was the age of most individuals who use online dating, it grabbed readers’ attentions right away. The use of visual aids also helped readers visualize the argument better. Slater’s argument was clear and effective.
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