221. Fragmented Reality

We all live in our own versions of reality.

No need to delve into the philosophical discussion of perceptions. Life, as it is, is already complicated enough without these brain-frying questions. I’m talking about reality as an objective construct, and that we all live in separate, objective bubbles within this construct.

(kind of like a Venn diagram. What do you call a 3-Dimensional Venn Diagram?)

One of the first ever lessons I received on human nature is that everyone is interested in what they are interested about. This sounds idiotically simple, yes – but considering the number of people I’ve conversed with who couldn’t understand why people didn’t like hanging out with them, I’ll venture to say that common sense isn’t all that common.

(yes, I took a class on how to talk to people. I’m socially awkward like that. Shut up)

Everyone is interested in what they are interested about. They don’t care about you. They don’t care about what you enjoy. Or what you do in your free time. Or your favorite band. They care about themselves: they care about their favorite artists, about whether their favorite restaurant is still open or not, about whether they’ll be able to save enough for that new car.

Humans, by nature, are self-serving. Let us first establish that. We are not doomed to egocentricity; but recognizing this nature will help us to progress as a species.

(I’m going full Nietzsche for a moment. Bear with me)

Even outgoing, friendly people are self-serving on a fundamental level. They’re not talking to you because they think it’s something you might like. They’re doing it because it’s what they enjoy doing. It’s about them.

So when you put a group of people together to discuss a topic, you might think that they’re discussing the same topic. You would be wrong. They are discussing different topics using the same keywords, because those keywords all mean something different to each of them, according to their subjective biases. It’s why group discussions are bloody annoying things, and it’s why people invariably walk out of discussions convinced that they are surrounded by idiots.

We all live in our own versions of reality. Because our brains are wired to only be able to handle so many things at once, it’s inevitable that we lose track of what we’re supposed to be focusing on.

On Friday, the opposition leader of Malaysia was charged with sodomy and sentenced to 5 years in prison, sparking public outrage. Barely 24 hours later, a plane went missing over Vietnamese airspace, and hasn’t been recovered as of time of writing. On Friday, I found out that my short story has just been published in Esquire magazine. Earlier today, I attended the wedding of 2 people I have grown to love and cherish.

All of these are neatly partitioned, nicely separated events. They stand alone in my mind. Except in reality, they don’t – they are really a continuous event flowing seamlessly from one to the next. But my fragmented sense of reality causes me to see these things as separate events.

It’s a convenient tool. It tells me what to be happy about, and what to be upset about. Imagine how utterly confusing life would be if we weren’t able to distinguish one event from the next. Life would look a little like turd, I guess: a mash of different thoroughly-digested things.

Perhaps the same thinking causes us to see ourselves separate from our fellow human being. We are, after all, unique individuals with different worldviews.

But perhaps we are more connected than we think we are.


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