Organizations harbor a specific rhetorical context, rhetorical situations based on organizational culture, expectations, norms, processes, rules, and social environment. According to Bitzer (1986) a situation is rhetorical if rhetoric can at least in part mitigate the situation’s exigence by provoking action from the audience. Bitzer assumes the rhetorical situation to be one that is objective and real and calls for rhetorical solution, i.e. the situation precedes the rhetorical response. Vatz (1973), on the other hand, contends that there is no situation before rhetoric gives rise to one, i.e. rhetoric, by making it salient in a particular way, creates a situation. The fundamental difference between these views is the interpretation of rhetoric as a response to reality versus rhetoric as the creator of reality.
At this point, I will introduce an additional view regarding the birth of a rhetorical situation: The availability of a communication technology that by means of being introduced into a community has the potential to give rise to communicative exigences that were non-existent before its introduction. The same technology may or may not be able to provide a fitting response to the newly created exigence. In the latter case, the exigence may remain untended to or even unrealized until a new technology offers itself as a fitting response. In the case of the unrealized exigence, a rhetorical situation might be borne out of the availbility of a tool with the potential to solve its exigence.
More concretely, the deterritorialization occurring in the online or virtual community (Levy, 1997) has given rise to the human need for social bonding to occur in that space. In other words, before the virtual community came into existence, virtual social bonding was not an exigence. The need for virtual social bonding was brought about by the communication technology that allows for virtual communities to form. Global, geographically dispersed organizations operate to a large degree within virtual communities. Technologies, such as email, were able to build bridges between communities but they were not able to combine multiple communities into one on a large scale. Discussion forums were mainly topic/subject based and, thus, restrict membership.
Not until the blog and, especially, the micro-blog did an organization have tools capable of unifying these multiple virtual communities by virtue of providing the means for virtual, social bonding. Especially the many-to-many capability of the micro-blog allows for the spontaneous, uncomplicated formation of social connections across organizational hierarchies, geographical distances, and timezones. It might be the perfect example of a previously unrealized rhetorical exigence brought into public consciousness by the sudden availablitiy of a tool that could mitigate it; hence the incredible success and exponential growth of the micro-blog in the social and professional realms.