Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Virtual Reality?

This meme has been doing the rounds of facebook, lately.  And it connects, at least slightly, with something I've been thinking on.  Especially the bit about "Creating the rainbow".  I find it fascinating, that the whole universe of our experience as conscious beings is produced by neurons in our heads.  In actual fact, we each experience our own "virtual reality", played on the screen of our mind.  How much does this equate to "actual" reality?  That's quite a question!!

And if even our perceptions of measurable, physical phenomena are subjective and limited  (reading the above, I think it is miraculous we have any sense of coherence and continuity at all)  - this makes the fact that we are social beings, forming bonds and relationships, even more wondrous.  I mean, think about it!  Not only do we form mental representations of what people look like and how they act - we are driven to share one another's internal worlds.  That's like creating a virtual reality of a virtual reality of a virtual...  alright.  I'll stop there - but can you see what I'm seeing?? 

To me, relationships - any kind of relationships - are most satisfying when there is a sense that we "understand each other".  That my internal world is seen and comprehended by another, and that I also can see and comprehend theirs.

What makes them most UNsatisfying, is when I feel that another person is relating, not to me, but to their own virtual idea of me.  Does that make sense?  A recent example (which sticks in my mind as it was rather startling), was when the young fellow at the corner store here propositioned me recently (yikes!)  Apart from being quite inappropriate, and a bit of an embarrassing shock, it showed a HUUUGE disjoint between his perceptions of me, and my own.  He was placing me in some kind of strange fantasy role (not at all in keeping with my age, appearance, or actual life-roles - let alone my real desires and preferences)  I have no idea what he was seeing - but it sure as heck wasn't "me"!!  (It really was most bizarre!!)

Of course, that was just a random awkward moment, in an interaction with an almost complete stranger.  It was embarrassing - but when people closer to us in our lives push us into "roles" the disconnect is far more painful.  Perhaps the wife who expects her husband to always be strong and affirming;  the husband who expects endless nurturing from his wife;  the friend who wants others to play a particular social game in order to feel good...  there are as many variations as there are relationships.  And the truth is, when we do this to another, we are simply using them for our own agenda.  Perhaps to meet our emotional needs, bolster our confidence, or simply confirm our "convenient fictions" about ourselves. 

The saddest aspect of this, is that every person is, just like Dr. Who's Tardis, so much bigger on the inside!!  Why limit your perception of another human being, simply to what you "want" them to be??


  1. Very true Kerry, very true. I think we can add to that our thoughts and feelings about god. We just don't see enough, know enough, to say anything like god exists, especially in the often narrow minded ways that it is reported to us.

    People, even with very close friends and relatives, hardly ever scratch the surface of each others existence.

  2. Stu - I certainly believe God is WAYYYY outside our limited conceptions of him! Anyone who thinks they have God all "figured out" is seriously deluded!

    And yes, I think we seldom scratch the surface in getting to know either ourselves or others. I suspect, even when we think we've "gone deep", it's only in comparison to our previous ignorance. Human beings really are infinite! Makes it wonderful to be alive, doesn't it??

  3. Have you ever heard of the Johari Window? It was created in 1955 by two scientists to help people better understand their interpersonal relationships.
    The Johari Window has four panes.
    Panel #1 Open - Things you know about yourself that everyone else knows, too.
    Panel #2 Hidden - Things that you know about yourself that no one else knows. And it is under your discretion to inform them.
    Panel #3 Blind spots - Things about you that you don't know about yourself, but that everyone else knows. And it is under their discretion to inform you.
    Panel #4 Unknown - Things about you that no one knows - not you, not anyone else.
    Your Johari Window evolves over time and there is even a Dream Johari Window.
    I adore this construct. And your post reminds me of it. We are not aware of half of those panels, what image we project out to others, what they see.

    1. Wow!! No Susan, I've never heard of it... gonna hit Google now, to find out more! (& hey, glad you finally joined in the conversation!! :D )

  4. Huh. Well, I love this. Awesome, awesome, awesome.

  5. Hmmm... Adrian, the "reply" button on my blog seems to be broken this morning... and all I wanted to say in response to you was :D

  6. Kerry,

    Love this post. It reminded me that people aren't really who I think they are - not really - and that I should extend grace far more than I do.

    It also brought to mind the idea of humanity as a individual AND corporate entities. There's so much to us, indivudals, and us, the human race, to be explored. It makes me smile.

    Also it humbles me.

    Also... see? This is why I usually take some time to process. I'm babbling.

    Anyway, thanks for posting that. I'm not on Facebook and I'd not seen it, so I'm glad you brought it into my sphere. :)

    1. Ethan - can you explain how it relates to "individual and corporate" entities? I'm curious about where your thinking is headed...

      Reading back over this, I think I am typically a lot more concerned that people see MY internal world (one of the big reasons I write) than to see the hopes dreams and internal realities of others - I mean, I DO care, but it probably often depends on how much someone else's reality resonates with my own. So that's my challenge out of all this, I guess :)


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