Thursday, July 17, 2014

Perception, Reality, and Words

[Johnathan Clayborn]

I have been thinking a lot about relationships, perception, truth, reality, and fate the last couple of weeks. So much so that I'm compelled to write a rambling article about it because I have no one else who will really understand my meaning anyway. It turns out the sometimes the people who you think understand you the best don't really understand at all. There's so much that's running through my head that I don't even know where to begin.

First, I wanted to start with the concept that God/fate brings people into our lives for a reason. I don't think that this is true anymore. I used to wholeheartedly believe it. I used to think that we were meant to cross paths with people for some kind of grand-reason that was beyond our knowledge or understanding. Now? I can't possibly fathom how that could be so. Sometimes things just don't make sense. 

Perception is another thing that I've been thinking about recently also. It's been brought to my attention that some people have the idea that just because people appear calm, reserved, or self-contained on the outside, surely it must mean that they are simply devoid of emotions on the inside as well. Some people I know are emotional time-bombs. They're highly emotional people and they show everyone exactly how they feel by laughing, or crying, or screaming, or yelling, or whatever the case is. There is aboslutely nothing wrong with that. But, a lot of those people also think that because other people don't express their emotions the same way that it somehow means that their emotions aren't as intense. They don't realize that the collected exterior shell is simply a mask that they wear for the world and that under that shell is a turbulent storm of emotions that boils with the intensity of 1,000 burning suns. Just because people don't actively express outward bursts of emotion doesnt mean that they don't feel more strongly about something than you can imagine. I would argue, in fact, that in most cases the reserved people probably feel more strongly than the outbursters. My basis for that statement is because the act of having an outburst of emotion triggers an emotional release that allows the floodgates to open as some of that pressure to bleed off. Collected people don't have that same release, or if they do, it's too much to handle or too late. That's part of the reason that people say "it's the quiet ones that you have to watch". The highest rates of suicide are among those who are calm and collected on the outside. (And no, that's not a cry for help or an implication that I'm contemplating suicide, that's merely an example to demonstrate that people who don't express emotions outwardly very much feel with great intensity).

With regards to truth and reality, they weave an intertangled web. It's very easy to sit down and talk about general facts and information. People can deal in facts, they provide data and arguments in their case to make their point. The evidence can be considered and weighed and judged. When dealing with personal matters and feelings, this is almost impossible. You say that feel this way? Really? Well, where's your proof? It's easy for people to make up their mind about a situation and then fall into cognitive biases like confirmation bias and discount or discredit anything that's presented. "Oh, well, yes, you said that, and I can see that, but you didn't do it sooner so whatever you're saying must be a lie to cover up some nefarious plot". Or, "you've said that already, you keep saying the same thing. While it's possible that you keep saying the same thing because it's true, it's much easier to believe that it's just a line that you're feeding me so that I can keep clinging to my biased opinion of how things are". Certainly, those developments of bias aren't without cause or provocation. Something happened to cause people to develop that way of thinking in the first place. But once they've latched on to that ideal, it's nearly impossible to convince them of the actual truth no matter how hard you may try. This is doubly true when you are talking to the kind of person who deals with emotions through outburts and you are a reserved type. Because you don't make the same outbursts, your words must not be true either. The whole thing must just be some sort of scheme. Often as a result of that people begin to convince themselves that relationships between people meant different things to the other person. Two people can both go into a relationship feeling and thinking the same thing. But, within a short time it could easily be a situation where one person still feels the same way about the relationship and the other person feels like they were being used, or played, or whatever the case is. It makes it easier to replace the other person if we just convince ourselves that they were being disingenuous the whole time and never meant anything they said.

Words alone are a wholly inadequate expression of feeling. Words convey thought, but not feeling. I love you is a wholly meaningless expression. I'm sorry is a meaningless expression. You can say these things to people all day long, but it is not possible for them to feel what is in your heart. Since they can't feel what you feel, the words that you are trying to use to convey those feelings creates an impossible scenario. It's like trying to count out ten trillion dollars in pennies. You imagine that as "a lot", but you cannot possibly, realistically visualize exactly how much. As a result you wholly understimate the magnitude of the expression. You might be trying to convey ten trillion dollars in pennies with your words, but the person hearing it might only hear ten thousand dollars in pennies, because that's all they can imagine. If this is coupled with someone who has fallen prey to confirmation bias and has begun convincing themselves that everything that you say is a well-rehearsed line as opposed to a fact, or that it was all a game or lie to begin with, it represents an extremely morose exercise in futility. Some people might say "I'm scared", or "I'm terrified", but again, it's totally meaningless. Without being able to feel what you feel there's no possible way that anyone will ever understand the true gravity of that emotion or the paralysis it might induce. This is a departure from my way of thinking as well. A few weeks ago I was a self-proclaimed logophile (lover of words). I used to think that words had a grand purpose and meaning, that they were the glue that held society and civilization together, that with the proper selection of words, you can make anyone understand anything. This is no longer true for me. Words have lost a lot of their meaning and value to me. They will never again hold that same special place in my mind as they did before.

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These blogs represent my thoughts, ideas and opinions. They may be different from yours. You may not agree with them. While I do enjoy a good, polite debate on a topic (where points are countered with other points based on logic, reason and fact), I do not enjoy an argument (where you tell me that I am wrong simply because you disagree and cannot offer any reasons to support your position). I am very respectful of others, and I expect everyone on here to be respectful in return, not only to me, but to each other as well. Disrespectful posts will be deleted automatically. Feel free to share your ideas, but keep it civil, please.