Is all of life a distorted view?

July 18, 2023


Is there such thing as literal fact? Or do we see everything with a distorted view?

Law enforcement says that you can ask any six witnesses to a crime what happened and they’ll have six different observations. Why is that?

We view the world through the filters we have built up over our own time and experience.

And we view EVERYTHING that way. It’s just the way humans are built.

But we don’t necessarily realize it. We think our view is the way things are. That it’s literal fact. Objective truth.

But it isn’t. It’s just the way we see it. It’s always a distorted view. Reality is not objective. Perception is reality. Consider:

Depending on our point of view….The world can be threatening or welcoming.

Someone is wearing a sweatshirt.…or could it be a hoodie?

Another person can intend to hurt you or be simply awkward.

People can slight you or be having a bad day.

You can fear the dark or get some sleep.

There IS no objective truth. Only what we see through our own filters. Even Paul the Apostle said that we do not see things clearly, but only “through a glass, darkly.”

Filters. That’s what he was talking about.

And filters distort our view.

So the next time we’re convinced that what we see is literally true, we might want to consider that our reality is only that: OUR reality. The same person seeing the same thing or even going through the same thing will see it differently.

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12 comments on “Is all of life a distorted view?
  1. Diane says:

    So the absolute truth is that there is no absolute truth! Intriguing!

  2. Even history, it now seems in this country, is up for interpretation.

  3. Thank you for this my friend. This is why I am so quiet on certain subjects, and speak only about things I know and my experience, which is all about me. Making up stories about other people, based on my experience of them, is foolhardy and exhausting. I can’t even keep my stories straight, because they are continually changing and multi layered. We are complex beings, for sure…

    • Yes, it’s true. What seems huge to one person may not have been at all significant to the other. It’s not that one or the other has the absolute truth, just that it’s all in how we receive it. And we are hardly ever in touch with the other’s intent. Only how we see it. Very complex, indeed. And we are overdue to catch up. I wanted to come to your workshop but I can’t get the free time! The last one I attended was so fun.

  4. Bobi says:

    I would agree to a point but would argue that when it comes to some aspects of reality that perception is not an option. When you see a red traffic signal, you best perceive you need to stop. If you perceive it’s merely a suggestion, the consequences could be deadly. And just to be a friendly devil’s advocate here, can a sweatshirt without a hood really be perceived as a hoodie? 🤔 Not trying to be rude here, I really do enjoy your thought provoking content. 🙂

    • Hi Bobi, thanks for your thoughtful comment….and yes, I hear that. Of course, certain things are solid, like colors and laws. I’m not suggesting that we interpret those. I am pointing out that how things land on us has a lot to do with who we are, what our experiences have been and this is mostly true of interactions with other humans. A hoodie IS a sweatshirt but the term has come to have negative connotations. You can look at it on a senior white woman, me, and see just a sweatshirt with a hood. Or you can look at it on a teenager of color and think “oh-oh, a hoodie.”
      Way back in the day the big marketing guru out here in Silicon Valley used to say “perception is reality” and it’s what most of marketing is based on. He didn’t invent it, social scientists knew this long before he brought to the public in a marketing way. But most marketing works on that premise–it wants to affect how things land on us.

      This really is complex stuff when it comes to interpersonal relationships, as my friend, MaryLou points out in her comment here. And of course you are saying the same. I appreciate some thought provoking response, so thank you!

      • Bobi says:

        Thanks for the clarification. I laughed at myself for taking your sweatshirt/hoodie analogy out of context (and quite literally.) But here’s the thing: I live in a predominantly white, rural area, been wearing hoodies all my life. In fact, years ago, people would joke my husband looked like the unibomber. That said, I don’t live in a cave, so I understand what you’re talking about but around here, I’m more triggered by old white guys in plaid flannel and camouflage driving their pick-up trucks full of guns, flying Trump flags heading to their militia hangouts (I’m not kidding.) than by a hoodie. This is my Reality or perhaps just my Perception. 😉 I wish more sophisticated, urban political leaders (looking at you, Dems!) could understand and address what is happening in rural areas. The distorted views around here go something like this:
        Are we ‘living the good life’ or ‘forgotten’?
        Are we ‘overtaxed & underfunded’ or ‘receiving equal revenues’?
        Are we a ‘2nd amendment sanctuary’ or a ‘laughingstock’?
        I’m convinced the distorted views that city dwellers have of rural folk and vice versa is driving polarization in this country just as surely as politics. My perception as a rural native is that this fissure has been
        slowly growing over time and has contributed to the problems we’re currently experiencing. It’s not just about white people and fundamentalist Christians, it’s about urban vs rural. Not to dwell on politics, but the GOP has figured this out (and, my perception again!) which is why red states are red states. I live in a blue state (thankfully) but we’re not a swing state and politicians never come here. In fact, in 2016, Trump was the first candidate since Carter who came to our county. The overwhelming Perception here is no one cares about us. That’s my reality.🙃

        • I really appreciate this point of view–I don’t hear enough about rural voters other than the assumption that they are all Trump supporters. It occurs to me that just about everyone things they aren’t being taken care of by government (in one way or another) except maybe the super rich. Your dueling points of view reallly hit home there. We are surely lost as a nation. But that’s another post for another time.

  5. Laurie Stone says:

    It’s so true. You see it everywhere. Some people automatically smile when they come upon a stranger, and others look down, never making eye contact. It’s all how we see the world.

  6. Alana says:

    This is absolute truth. We should consider these facts, too, in addition to prejudices we all have, built over time: not all of us see the same color spectrum (one of my best friend’s sons is colorblind). My autistic brother in law doesn’t perceive most non verbal communication without special training (facial expressions, in general how people communicate with their bodies). Some people can perceive colors in music or taste the shapes or textures of their food. Our reality really isn’t the reality of others.

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