In addition to implicit and explicit messages one can draw from images, images can also make an argument. My love-hate relationship with technology sometimes feels like a battle I am losing, but modern life is rife with communcation and productivity based in technology, so I need to get with the program! I do wonder where it is all going to lead and the dependent relationship we have created with the digital age. There is no going back, but who or what will win the power struggle?
Claim: Social Media is so harmful it can cause death.
Evidence: The image is of a man who is restrained by a social media application at each of his hands and feet. Every application is piercing his body to “nail” him to his cell phone.
Warrant: We have become so dependent on social media that its power is inimical to our health. The image depends on knowledge of the Christian biblical story of the death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion. Other religions may not see the connection other than the serious physical harm caused by social media.
Reflection: The tool I chose was an image from Quora.com. I am personally concerned about the harmful effects of social media, and how young children are spending so much time in front of a screen. The image has some heavy-handed, biblical messages of the man being crucified by Facebook, Twitter, Instragram, and WhatsApp. The death is metaphoric but the message is that social media is all powerful, so much so that it can kill you with its use. These applications are all current social media sites that are used on a daily basis.
The Claim is represented by a graphic image of a man “nailed” to a cell phone by the four most popular social media applications on a cell phone. It is clear the man is restrained, unable to move, and is in distress. Without a single word of text, it is clear that social media is causing harm and eventual death. The Evidence is demonstrated in the image by each social media application shown piecing the hands and feet of the man on the cross of a cell phone. Even if a viewer does not make the biblical crucifixion reference, it is clear that the intent is harm to the man. The Warrant is demonstrated by a clear connection between the consumption of social media and the damage it does.
The Warrant is situated in the Christian culture that requires some biblical knowledge of the death of Jesus Christ. It assumes that the viewer will understand the biblical references and be able to connect them to the instrinsic harm of social media. The image does not allow for any positive interpretation of how harmful social media is to our lives. The message is heavy-handed and anyone from a culture not familiar with the story of the death of Jesus Christ can see the torture the man in going through. The image works and converys its message whether the viewer has the relgious culteral background or not.
Classroom Uses: Teachers can use images for multimodal arguments in lieu of or in addition to an argument essay. Students can establish a claim and begin the process of searching for an image that they feel makes the claim. It can be an individual or group assignment. I think the selection of an image can provoke much discussion in the class or in a group. The process of searching for an image that supports a claim is one way to introduce the argument essay. The teacher would have to model what the process looks like so the image and argument are in the same ballpark, then work to fine tune the relationship between image and argument. I think the first step in the Toulmin model is highly instructive for students. Students are bombarded with images daily and may not realize the sublminal impact on their thinking or attitudes. Being aware that some images are making a claim may avoid accepting what is portrayed without any analaysis.
Questions I have for teachers: The more I work with images as text, the more I see the value of image analysis. Do teachers use images when teaching texts, or pairing images with texts? Is the time involved in finding appropriate images for a class project worth it? Can teachers use images in collages or visions boards so students can tell a story that is more than linear or chronological?