We are continually told that to make sense of the world being pulled over our eyes, we need media literacy to understand how and when we are being lied to by generative AI that is amplifying the biases in existing media reporting, entrenching inequalities and teaching people from early childhood. What is terrifying is that unless we are very careful, we will never notice because it is not given to humankind to question things that meet our expectations. A brief sojourn through the ways we are manipulated shows us how we are being led deeper into the mire of our existing societal prejudices and also how we can choose to begin the slow process of wading back out again.
Most people quite naturally find themselves surrounded by people who are very much like themselves. We are attracted to people who we feel are similar to us, people who make us feel comfortable and safe. The only trouble with this is that much of life lies beyond our direct experience, which makes it difficult to empathise.
Happily, there are films, documentaries, novels, and more fun media that let us vicariously experience what might be like to be someone other than ourselves. We have put together reading lists that comprise materials that make it quick and easy to find novels, films and more by and about socially disadvantaged groups, from people of the global ethnic majority, LGBTQ+ people, members of the Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller community so it is that much easier for you to expand your horizons from the safety and comfort of your armchair.
I never thought I would be quoting the eponymous Urban Dictionary but one of the phrases recently added draws attention to how often we make unwarranted assumptions about other people: Schrödinger’s Queer. The term describes a person (usually in the public domain, a celebrity) about whose sexual orientation nothing is known, and argues that until evidence emerges like they marry someone or appear with romantic partners in public, no assumptions can safely be made about their sexuality. Like the eponymous unstable caesium atom in Schrödinger’s original thought experiment, we cannot know whether it has decayed (killing the cat) or not until we open the box and see whether the cat is alive or dead. Until the evidence presents itself, we are left with uncomfortable uncertainty.