Unpacking: “Do you live in a nation that has disinformed citizens since it’s start?”
Reminders: You don’t have to have any degrees to do what I do. Everyone has a perspective to tell that can enhance and/or reveal our understanding of the world. Everything is connected. We only know what we know. Everything becomes normal in repetition.
Breakdown: In this episode I will be describing some communication basics from my Dr. bird’s eye view. Specifically, the ways I’ve learned about how we all come to learn about ourselves, each other, and everything else. While you listen, I invite you to recollect on your own lived experiences. Consider how and where you learned about how the world is, what you’re capable of, and potentials of what can (or cannot) happen in the future...
There is no shame in admitting we have been miseducated. And when we learn better, we can begin to do better. Everyone deserves better than this harmful world that was built long before any of us were born. After this discussion, I introduce the basic format for remaining episodes: the critical media ecological AAA of the present-COVID-19 and monkeypox context.
Hi, welcome to episode one of Dr. bird's eye view. My name is Dr. Bernadette "bird" Bowen. And in episode one, I will be unpacking the question that I extended in the trailer, which was, do you live in a nation that has just informed citizens since its start?
Just a few reminders before I unpack that question further. You don't have to have any degrees to do what I do. Everyone has a perspective to tell that can enhance and or reveal our understanding of the world.
Everything is connected, we only know what we know. And everything becomes normal and repetition.
In this episode, I'll be describing some communication basics from my Dr. bird's eye view. Specifically the ways I've learned about how we all come to learn about ourselves, each other and everything else.
While you listen, I invite you to recollect on your own lived experiences. Consider how and where you learned about how the world is what you're capable of, or not capable of, and potentials of what can or cannot happen in the future.
As children, we often believe what we're told, unless something feels wrong, or appears inaccurate, or someone points out a flaw in our current understanding. If we're lucky, into adulthood, we don't lose that.
For instance, we eat food and we drink water because we get hungry and thirsty. And we're told that we need these to survive. But eventually, we also learn that some foods and drinks can poison and impair, or even kill us. Once we learn that it becomes common sense not to eat or drink them to prevent possible harm or even death. Information is the same way.
So how do we learn? We learn through the use of language, conversation, everyday conversation.
Language is a technology that was created. Each language gives us a different experience of the world. You're going to experience the world differently if you use the English phonetic language, versus using sign language, in English, or any other language.
Or if you know French, or Spanish. Anyone that knows multiple languages can describe to you the way that it describes the world differently.
Language is an insufficient and imperfect medium, because what one language can can show you about the world, another won't.
In this way, there's no such thing as perfect communication. Anyone that's ever sent a message to anyone where maybe it doesn't get received in the way that you intended, has seen consequences of this. So why is this the case?
People made language. Language as a technology shapes us as much as we shape it.
Technology in the broadest sense, means everything that extends our experience of the world, beyond each of our uniquely experienced bodily senses, sight, sound, feeling, smelling and tasting.
One way that this has been explored and described was by Christina L. Nystrom, one of the late founders of media ecology. In her dissertation, she defined the media ecological approach as "a study of complex communication systems as environments whose basic subject matter involves the transactions between individuals and realities, seeking to identify the roles played in those transactions by the media and technologies through which they're conducted".
In other words, each form of spoken and written language expression creates a different relationship between ourselves and ourselves, meaning our sense of identity, self esteem, and what have you, others and everything else in the world.
These are mediums of communication, they mediate our relationship(s).
So media ecologists have asserted that any technology or media must be seen as a medium of communication, because they're built in specific ways, using language.
In this case, think of language like a map or a blueprint of one specific way to design anyone technology. Problems can arise when we take anyone map too literally.
A map is one representation of reality that never depicts the fullness of all available perspectives. Maps and blueprints are interpretations of environments or objects in the world that leave out with anyone mapmaker does not deem valuable.
This process of map-making or sense-making is useful to apply to any understanding of ourselves and our technological extensions.
All different forms of communication, like our voices, or text, provide us different experiences. You're going to talk to someone differently in person than you do on the telephone, and or on the all audio app clubhouse. They provide you different opportunities and possibilities of relationship(s). They reveal to you different things, for better and for worse.
It's the same with texts. Texts, in the form of a physical document, versus a digital document is going to be very different. But we consume, and they impact us in different taken for granted ways, the longer that they're there.
An example of this would be -- any document -- like the Constitution of the United States.
The language within that document was created by a limited lived experience. And it has consequences for better and worse.
The longer any medium of communication is there, the more it recedes out of our conscious awareness. And the influence of each and every one interlocks and compounds and the influence one another, much like a few drops of different food colorings do within a glass of water.
The technologies of each, including our own bodies, plays us in different positions to relate to ourselves and each other, and everything else in our environments.
As far as the ideas that we we understand, the physical location where we are, but as well as the material goods around us...or if we even view them as "goods", right?
The digital experience and now more recently, the algorithmic world that morphs things and changes things in ways we don't even see unless we become privy to the consequences of those algorithms.
Another example is that the human body has been described in the technology of each age.
So in this way, the human body has come to be understood as being "machinelike".
This happened and incrementally over a series of some seemingly harmless ways (procedures, laws, social norms) and others that could be argued as more overtly malicious (like chattel slavery, or eugenics).
I've referred to the phenomena of seeing ourselves and others as machines as the mechanization of humans. This process, as George Ritzer and Max Weber described, remove the heart in favor of the mind. It is focused on a rationality in the pursuit of logic that in certain senses has given us knowledge. But, in others, when taken to an extreme and pushed to what Ritzer are referred to as an "irrationality", rationality push to irrationality, it has made us more inhuman, it has come it has led us to believe we're machines.
The point is, this is only one way of understanding the world. The longer that understanding has been accepted, it has become taken for granted, and built into nearly every aspect of our societies, from formal education to romantic relationships.
What I'm saying is that the longer this process has gone on, because of certain presumptions of seeing ourselves, others, and everything else in certain ways, the more we've been oriented away from remembering that everything is connected, we only know what we know, and that everything becomes normal and repetition.
So how does this relate to disinformation and misinformation and the present COVID-19 and monkeypox era?
People have been miseducated and are hurting themselves in confusion, because they see themselves others and all else as a series of isolated actors taking part in isolated incidents.
A large amount of inaccurate information is available online, especially on social media or other secondary information markets, which are filled with different laypeople who provide subjective interpretations -- as we all do -- but also arbitrary claims that may or may not have been initially introduced into our environments by people with agendas.
For sake of simplicity, the way that I distinguish between "disinformation" and "misinformation" is on the basis of intention. I define disinformation as intentionally malicious, inaccurate information. And misinformation is unintentionally inaccurate information, which both can be bad, of course.
They both interact during times of crisis and high uncertainty like this COVID era, plenty of information is being spread because people are looking for answers.
Unfortunately, not all of that information is true.
And in a society where more people than not have been miseducated, or educated but indebted, and to a level that basically harms them. Therein lies the problem.
We've never been able to see this much information, and able to understand (on such a mass scale) how societies were built inequitably. But many of us also still do not having basic literacy skills of ways to determine what source is credible.
And we've also been taught that if you make a mistake, you're imperfect, and that's not acceptable.
I was born and raised in the US context. My background is in sociology, I have a master's in communication and a PhD in media and communication.
Up until graduate school, I knew nothing of what I learned in graduate school. Knowing what I know now, I see that I was miseducated into believing United States propaganda that not only harms myself, but harms nearly everyone else.
We've been sold limited ideas of who and what is "normal" that hurt us and one another.
We would benefit from remembering why we started to believe those things, and how we can stop so that we can stop hurting ourselves and confusion.
There is no shame in admitting we've been miseducated, whether that's about United States history, or about sex education, anything in between.
When we learn better, we can begin to do better. And everyone deserves better than this harmful world that was built long before any of us got here.
Everything is connected, we only know what we know, anything becomes normal and repetition. We can repeat new ideas and actions creating a new world as we wish.
What I'm planning to do in the remainder of the podcast episodes, is format each episode and what I'm calling the AAA of the COVID-19 and monkey pox pandemic era.
Those of you who may be familiar with the organization, AAA, you call them and they will fix a flat tire or whatever else may be wrong with your automobile.
What I'm going to be doing is incorporating art, activism and academic research. The three A's, the AAA of the COVID-19 and monkey pox context, to provide not just context, but also a complex and well rounded understanding of the ways that art and activism and academic insights can all be used to help us understand the importance of the knowledge that we gained from simply being alive.
If this approach sounds appealing to you, I invite you to subscribe so you'll be notified when each new episode becomes available.
Take care of yourself. You're not meant to function like a machine because you're not a machine. You're more than a machine and not meant to be perfect.
Drink water. Go out in the sun. And remember to breathe.