Lately, the web is full with stories that call for a reality check. You might have heard about the photographer who “exposed” with a series of interesting photographs our “lying” friends. It struck me what kind of buzz this stirred on the Internet. It’s as if people were surprised to see and read that pictures are only snapshots of the world around us. More importantly this hasn’t necessarily anything to do with lying to anyone.
The Instagram World
The people should rather ask themselves what kind of reality they are looking at when checking out an Instagram post. What is this small square telling me exactly? Which part is actually important? Does it matter that the neatly presented notebook, is sitting in a messy room? I don’t think so. The picture emphasizes on the part of reality which is important for that person in that moment. And that’s why they’re sharing it.
The stir of Socality Barbie taps into the same source. The account owner deconstructs what Instagram is about: showing people something you want them to see. This will, in the long run, lead to staged pictures. And again a chosen reality, which in the case of Instagram does lead to a selfie and food porn culture, but also to scripted holiday pictures or similar positive or even inspirational pictures.
Everything is a Stage
This is not new, maybe the channels are, but people staging and manipulating scenes in a way to show others what they see, is around since we started taking pictures. Back then you had to stage them in order to bring, whatever part of reality you wanted to show, on paper. Ultimately any kind of photo-shooting is staged and the photographer (hopefully) did this in order to show us something interesting, different or maybe odd. Where is the harm in that? We know how it works, yet there’s this web-buzz about it. It’s as if we would start complaining about actors faking to be someone else on the stage, calling them liars, while we’re at it. We don’t. And we don’t because we realize and accept that it’s staged, scripted and just one version of reality.
For that reason alone we have (for better or worse) remakes, remixes, covers and other copies of media. People see something different in them.
I like to see reality as something very personal, relative and unfinished. Reality is something which belongs to the owner. It starts with things like vision (colours), hearing (sound, the sound of your voice aloud and the recorded version are rather different, aren’t they?). But it doesn’t stop there. Depending on your experiences and circumstances your reality might even change over time.
As reality is a relative matter, its perception is subject to the “owner” of it. This reality is like a tunnel vision. Tunnel vision is the
loss of peripheral vision with retention of central vision, resulting in a constricted circular tunnel-like field of vision. And, by extension, any very narrow point of view.
The Reality Tunnel
For that reason I’d like to call it “reality tunnel”. This term has been introduced by Timothy Leary and later Robert Anton Wilson discussed and developed the idea further. As with beauty, so lies reality in the eye of the beholder. Wilson described this in his typical eloquence in “Maybe Logic”:
Every kind of ignorance in the world all results from not realizing that our perceptions are gambles. We believe what we see and then we believe our interpretation of it, we don’t even know we are making an interpretation most of the time. We think this is reality. – Robert Anton Wilson
But it really doesn’t have to be that complicated, French novelist Anaïs Nin brought it to the point when she stated:
We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are. – Anaïs Nin
This obviously doesn’t mean that reality has (necessarily) an objective truth, but rather that we are accessing that truth-reality with the help of our senses, conditioning and other filtering systems. Hence, the reality tunnel allows us to focus on a particular thing without being distracted (see also the cocktail party effect).
Ultimately this means, that staged happenings (photos, interviews, conversations or even this blog post), are merely a snapshot out of someone’s reality tunnel.
After reading this post, I hope to have made the importance of questioning people’s motive clear. They don’t have to be bad or negative but merely showing you something and you need to fit it into your reality tunnel. The transition from trying to understand their reality tunnel begins with understanding your reality tunnel. In order to understand it, you need to fully and openly understand yourself, your surroundings, your and their hopes and fears.
This is a difficult and hard process, but it gives you plenty of insight in mechanisms of this world and allows you to enjoy yourself and everything else that much more.
Understanding yourself is zen and that’s reason enough to conclude with a typical zen question:
Who is the master who makes the grass green?
Let me know what you think.