Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Perceiving Reality?

"Only in quiet waters things mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world." - Hans Margolius

They say perception is 9/10 reality. I think that may have been true before the advent of Facebook and Twitter, but nowadays, perception is truly what you make of it.  You can say what you want in the virtual world, create whatever personae you wish to be, but that may not be a reflection of true life. How many times do you hear tales of online scams and internet paramours taking advantage of innocent and desperate people?  I myself was once almost a victim of such a scam, but fortunately realized I was being snookered before any money changed hands.  It's so easy to get taken in by the perception that the person on the other end of the virtual wire has intentions that are good and pure.

I hate to tell you, but as altruistic as Bill Gates is, he's not just handing out money to random strangers for passing on an email to their ten closest friends.  He would be broke several times over by now if that were truly the case. I work in a place where I often receive complaints from recipients of these phishing mails...mostly from concerned citizens who know it's a scam, but occasionally from hapless souls who are desperate for the money, and want so badly for it to be true.  Those are the ones I feel for as they will likely fall prey to evil intentions.

In this modern age of social networking, we are flooded with information to which we may not have had access before (i.e. what are your friends having for dinner; where are they having dinner; and with whom are they having dinner?). This trove of information in turn, begs the question:


Why is that information important to know? Is it a natural human desire for attention?  Perhaps in some cases. I know I'll tag myself in places or with people as I know it will strike up a conversation or invite some sort of reaction from others.  I also do it out of boredom, particularly if I'm alone and have no one to converse with face to face.  The internet is a great place to reach out to your community (real or imagined) and feel connected. It's that connection with other people that keeps us engaged with life. It's why I refresh my Facebook feed 39 times a day.  It's why I scroll through Twitter when I'm bored at work.  It's even why I write this blog: to reach out and touch someone.

On the flip side though...it's still a bunch of noise. Loud, staticky noise. Which bring me to the quote at the top of this blog:

"Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world."

With so much noise these days, can we really expect that everything we perceive is reality? We are constantly inundated with information at a speed with which our feeble minds may not be able to accurately process. I know for myself, I tend to over-analyze the more information I have thrown at me, and that my perception of reality occasionally does not match up to the real deal. My view can easily get distorted and until I have clarity, I can believe that which may not be true. And being the intelligent person I am, I tell myself not to read too much into things that I see online, but my instinct to believe that which I see often overpowers common sense.  And I know I'm not alone.. we have all been guilty of that. It's just the way we are programmed as humans.  We want to believe what we see; the good, the bad and the ugly, because if we can't rely on visual perception what can we rely on?  As a species, we have not evolved extra-sensory perception, so we have no choice but to initially believe what we see.  We need to learn to condition ourselves to allow common sense to step in and ask the question: "Is it real?"

That's not to say we should go around doubting everything and not trusting people.  On the contrary, one thing the internet had also done is allow us to peak into people's lives and see what they are about. Some tend to use Facebook and Twitter as a sounding board, an avenue to vent, which is fine as long as you don't go too far with it.  But realizing you may be looking at - or even through - a filter will go a long way to quiet the noise in your mind.


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