I study Communications at the University of Ottawa and this semester I took a class called “Advanced Theories of Communication”. Needless to say, I’ve always recognized the importance of my studies within a world like ours where the need to know how to communicate effectively is crucial, especially with the rise of social media. Nonetheless, I didn’t know just how scientific the field could be. I now understand that language is at the foundation of all liberal arts, including communication, and without it, society would not be as advanced as it is today. So in order to succeed in this ever-changing world, it is important to acknowledge that fact as well as the other aspects that come with it.
In terms of my future career, I am a person with a desire to try many different things. Honestly, I find it discomforting to imagine myself on one set path – which means I might not ever be an expert on a particular topic but the thought doesn’t bother me just yet. That being said, this class has given me the tools to master different aspects of communication through theoretical practices that are applicable to all facets of the field. For instance, the art of rhetoric and persuasion. If I want to be successful at public speaking to an audience, whether it’s for two people or one hundred, I must consciously do it with logos (stating the facts), ethos (being credible) and pathos (appealing to their emotions) in mind. As well as understanding the rhetorical impact of your words and being able to adapt these words to different contexts.
In order to succeed in working within a team, the importance of dialogue is crucial. I now understand that one day, if I work in a field of organizational communication, dialogue is an important aspect. What you mean might not be interpreted the way you intended so it’s necessary to create an empathetic space for exchanges when interacting with someone. Whether I’m in a position of power or not, putting aside power relations is the way to effective dialogue.
Also, I’ve learned to utilize the mediums that are at my fingertips. If I ever decide to work in any fields like social media, corporate branding or advertising, it’s necessary for me to understand the function of these mediums. The apps I’ve downloaded years ago to follow the latest news on popular culture can also be used as a means of learning. In this class, we got to use Twitter as a platform to create an interactive dialogue amongst the students and the professor, emphasizing the idea of social media being the new public sphere. On one hand, this enables me to learn to share my thoughts in a meaningful way through writing/creating tweets. On the other hand, knowing how to search for the topics of interest to me through data curation like #UOAC on Twitter, the one that we used for this class, for instance.
In my everyday life as well as my career, it is now clear to me that I must never stop learning because this is the only way to develop. But in order to learn, not only must I live new experiences, I must research and read outside of my cognitive bubble. With the rise of media, the accessibility of knowledge also means a necessity to understand what it entails. This whole idea of a post-truth society puts everything into perspective. I now understand the necessity of weaving through news and facts to find the truth; how I must make a conscious effort to look through various sources since most media outlets, for example, slant towards a favoured narrative. As well as understanding how subjective truth can be depending on its context. Whether it’s explicit learning that is acquired through reading or implicit, embedded in social and cultural context, knowledge itself is imperative to critical thinking.
In many ways has this very theoretical class provided me with practical tools that are applicable to my future like being able to master speech and its various layers such as rhetoric, persuasion and dialogue. Equally, understanding how to use social media properly as tools for sharing and learning. These tools are interchangeable within the different facets of the field of Communications. It’s important to evolve with the times and as someone studying Communications, it is necessary for me to consciously evolve with it. To do this, I must never stop learning; researching sources, reading about new theories, attending lectures – because knowledge is imperative to growth.
Food for thought: Tweets are a way to share your opinion and have your voice heard instead of appealing to the masses, but by using this as a form of expression, does this make us the masses?
For those interested, the film Arrival by Denis Villeneuve elegantly addresses these relations between language, space and time. Toying with the idea that the possibilities that communication presents us are endless.