I love when I witness someone. in the midst of deep inner reflection, suddenly and unselfconsciously bursts out some pithy statement of deep critical thinking and I gasp wide-eyed. I usually ask them to repeat this flash of brilliance, but sometimes, like lightning, it’s gone and the echoes of it fade like some remote untouchable memory.
My son has these flashes every so often while we are having casual conversations. And, he recently lit up my thoughts one evening during our usual post-workday discussion. We were talking about society and people, about social media, and Instagram and the ways it differs from Twitter (I’m still not acclimatized to that platform, but I’m persisting to see if I can find some genuine utility other than reading and reposting). He was explaining how he moves through life differently than his peer group and especially around the use of social media. He often does not have his phone out at social events, because he said that he wants to “be there”. He is a self-proclaimed introvert, and he feels that paying attention to others is important, it’s a sign that you value them. He continued saying,
“I don’t understand it. They must look at their pictures and say, “That was such a good time. I wish I was there.”
I stopped what I was doing and thought about the complexity of this future observation about the absent presence created when technology interfaces with humanity. I wondered if the drive to chronicle one’s in pictures is a reluctance to let life change and to hang on to moments in time as if keeping them saves the pleasure too. I have felt this impulse when my children were young, the dog was a puppy, but I have never felt it in terms of the documentation of self. I am missing from my own photographs, another absent presence behind the lens.
So, here I am, a week after this flash, taking a course in Critical Visual Dialogues through the Digital Pedagogy Lab creating images and discussing the many implications of a visual culture. I read the email posted by Francesca Sobande and Daniel Lynds feeling many years of study and passion coalesce. They wrote that in the course we could consider,
- Creative approaches to designing assessments and incorporating critical visual dialogues
- How to encourage and help students to develop critical media and digital literacy skills with a focus on visual culture
- Addressing issues related to racism and intersecting oppressions, including by critically considering how the visuals in learning and teaching environments can perpetuate harmful power dynamics
- Critically reflecting on issues related to power and privilege in relation to marketing representations and graphic design
- Exploring and experimenting with video/visual essays
English, Media Studies, equity, antiracism: these once separate concerns merged in a flash and the weight of learning lessened, lifted by some invisible force of connection and interconnectedness.