Perceptions of Reality

It has become apparent to me that reality is difficult to define because it depends on our perception of it.  Perception cannot take place without thought.  Our perception allows us to describe an entire series of events from acquiring the sensory stimulus to interpreting it.  It is a sensory process enabling knowledge of the outside world to be obtained.

One common usage of the term reality is the opinions, knowledge and attitudes shared by humans, otherwise referred to as our ‘social reality’.  Social realty is dependant on or defined by the consensus of a group.  For example, followers of the ‘Aetherius Society’ who believe that spiritual beings maintain a vigil over the earth by periodically visiting in flying saucers that radiate cosmic energy is as ‘real’ to them as the nearly universal belief in the value of education.

The term ‘society’ is a very broad one, and there are many elements of society that can affect how we perceive ourselves.  As perceptions become obscured, either in a positive or negative way, we all at times seek an escape from our observed reality.  The motivations and implications of this escape differ from individual to individual. 

Even in primitive times something motivated early man to stop and contemplate his existence. He assured some time away from the day-to-day responsibilities of hunting and gathering to make cave paintings that showed a model of him.  Maybe this was a form of escapism, or a desire for graphic representation?

In contemporary society we have evolved from this primitive scene.  Now mans hunting activities have been exchanged for a brief trip to a convenience store, or a few keystrokes on a keyboard to order a packaged meal.  Our ‘simulated’ hunting to pay for that meal is 8 or so hours a day in a place of work.  

The cave painting, however, has become culture.  It is our movies, our computer games, our music and books, the Internet, where we can generate a simulated existence. Otherwise known as the phenomenon of the modern mass media.


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September 2007
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