Aristotle’s “Ethos” as “Online Reputation Management”

Aristotle characterized ethos as something vital for any public speaker’s effectiveness.

When we are online, all our audience has to judge us by is our words. Over time, those words build up, crystalizing an impression of who we are and what we mean, and what we will mean in the future. Unlike speech, which careens off into the ozone and disappears, our words online linger and color what we say later. Who among us hasn’t sent a piece of mail that we wish we hadn’t, only to have it come back later?

Being online means we need to consider our words in terms of reputation management. What we say online will remain. For years. That may make us more careful, but is that really a bad thing? When our words are our only currency, is it bad to want to spend wisely?

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