Communication = Poder

Remember the “Knowledge is Power” public service campaigns in the 1990s?

Knowledge isn’t worth squat if you can’t communicate what you know.

I think I had a breakthrough moment with my quinto magisterio class today, as to why what we’re doing might be important. I think their attitude was more one of “geez, let’s just humor this gringa another day, eh?” before.

We’re working on the “limited vision” thing with the cameras… it’s going to take some practice.

I was finally like: “look, we’re learning to communicate our stories. what we include in pictures isn’t always the entire story! we know this, we can’t change this. it’s impossible to include the “entire story” in a single frame. but we can choose what is important to us in the story.

we can take a picture of the center square, and not include the garbage, and no one would know that there’s a problem with pollution here.

or, we can take a picture of garbage all over the street, of people throwing their plastic bags on the ground, or dogs scavenging for food in the market scraps, and demonstrate why we might need new garbage cans in the center.

we can control what we tell in our stories. we have to learn how to control what we want to communicate, because communication is a very powerful tool. if we can communicate information we think is important, to other people, we’ll have power.”

It sounds a bit sinister, in writing! But… it’s true. There is no such thing as the “full truth”… truth depends on the person telling it. Sure, there are such things as factual events, but even the “facts” change based on perspective.

A reading of Cold War history would be quite different from the Soviet/Russian perspective than from the US perspective, don’t you think? We attribute relevance and truth to the US perspective (well, if you’re from North America you generally do) because of our political bias. I’d venture to say that a significant percentage of the literate world wouldn’t be in agreement over those “facts.”

Photographs are so fascinating because of the veracity attributed to them, yet by nature they are so limited in vision! A photo is a representation of a single moment in time, from a single person’s perspective, yet it’s treated as an exact replication of “reality.”

Plus, the medium itself is incredibly flexible! It’s as easily manipulable as painting or drawing, yet those media are understood to be the work of an “artist.” Photographers aren’t always given credit for being “artists”… or the authors of a particular piece of work. Sometimes it’s just taken as a given, that anyone with a camera could take a particular shot.

My point with the class today: we have to decide what is important to us in our stories, and make a point to communicate that. We have to learn to express ourselves. With practice, we can communicate what is true to us, what represents our reality, and others will listen.

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