I’ve skirted around this topic before, talking about people’s differing perceptions of the same situation. Do we ever really perceive reality as it actually is? Without filtering it, altering it through our filters of life experience? I really do not think so.
My husband and I watch Through the Worm Hole with Morgan Freeman and they had an amazing episode on reality. The part I remember had to do with the sounds “fa” and “ba”. Say fa and ba and see how differently they sit in your mouth. So, if you watch a video of someone saying the ba sound but is actually mouthing fa, you will actually hear fa. However if you close your eyes and don’t watch the mouth moving, you hear the actual ba sound. What does that all mean? Well to me it means that our brain filters information beyond just what is present.
My husband and I are on the opposite spectrum when it comes to storytelling. For me, accuracy (as accurate as I can be given my perception of reality) is most important. However, for my husband, who comes from a family of storytellers, the enjoyment of the story in humor or intensity is most important. So facts and details sometimes get over inflated or understated if it suits the story better.
I keep that in mind when I listen to people relating details to me. First off, I remind myself that there are many sides to an issue. When people talk in extremes and absolutes like, always, never, every day, for hours on end, etc., that’s a sign to me that they are inflating the details of the events.
I think reality TV is much like reality and if you are scoffing, please give me a moment to explain. In reality TV they reshoot scenes to make them better, just like we replay scenes in our head (which can actually alter our thinking of a situation when we are emotionally charged and reviewing events). Throw in other people who are equally emotionally charged and lots of drama and rewriting of history can ensue.
The best personal example happened to me in my early twenties. In a dorm I lived in where you had to sign up to use the laundry facilities. One day, during my time-slot, another woman was doing her laundry and seemed rather angry. I had never met her before. We had a very brief interaction where, at least to me, she seemed pissed off with me.
As a few weeks past, every time we crossed paths she seemed to be glaring in my direction. One day, after I couldn’t take it anymore, I drummed up the courage to ask her why she was angry at me. Turns out, she didn’t even remember who I was. All the rest of the drama, I created for myself. It was definitely one of the most eye opening experiences that really changed my outlook on life, perception and reality.
As a writer, I have to remember that it’s incumbent upon me to create a believable “reality” that readers can buy into. My characters are usually a great guide in letting me know what the “reality” of the situation really is. I tend to trust my muse but still do research when necessary.
So do we every truly know the true nature of reality? I don’t think so because we can’t help but filter it through our own life experiences.
Thanks for taking the time to read and please share your thoughts on the matter.