Perception is an interesting thing. Do we ever stop to check our perceptions? Is it even possible to check our perceptions in this world of instant communication?
We are able to instantly communicate a snapshot of our thoughts, opinions, beliefs, hopes, dreams, complaints, or criticisms to the whole world. Reaching out and making a statement about what is happening around us is quick and easy. Communicating the complexity of our lives is not so easy.
Knowing, or thinking we know, what others have to say doesn't even require any more effort than lying in bed, opening one eye, and barely lifting our cellphones to catch a glimpse of what is being said from "out there" in the world. Just this morning I read in bed that Elton John was boycotting Dolce and Gabbana because of something they said about surrogate kids, or IVF kids. I was happy to read about the boycott. I have always wanted to boycott something and this one will be easy for me!
I have recently started to use twitter more and I am finding it fascinating. 140 characters. That's what you are permitted to use on twitter to make and post a thought or idea. It really requires some practice at being succinct, but this instant world sure creates ambiguity. Is it REALLY possible to share an opinion or a value or gain insight and understanding in 140 characters? What I know for sure is that it allows for everyone reading your tweet to interpret it from their perspective.
An interesting "discussion" ( I don't believe interactions on twitter can really be called discussions) took place, which I was involved in, and it was in relation to the television show "Sister Wives". Sister Wives is a show in which a polygamous family, formerly from Utah, are shown in a reality television format. A few weeks ago a show aired in which the first wife Meri, offered to divorce her husband and allow for him to marry legally and adopt the children of his fourth wife Robyn. Of course the "world" has a very unique perspective of plural marriage and the show, I believe, was intended to dispel some of the myths surrounding polygamy. Having said that, I also know that this family is NOT the typical polygamous family, and what is portrayed on television is only one hour a week of their lives which has been edited for television - and skewed again.
On twitter there was all kids of reactions to the show - critiquing the decision that was made and the reactions of the wives which was aired. The wives all took to twitter, and Robyn started to answer questions about the scenario. I asked a question and was answered by Robyn (WHAT?! I was answered by someone who is a star in a television reality series! My degrees of separation to Kevin Bacon just got smaller I am certain) in a series of tweets because obviously she could not respond in 140 characters. What she essentially ended up saying was to not judge the family by what we see on television or what we read in tweets. Which makes me wonder why we bother then.
Why have a reality television show if you don't believe it realistically reflects "who" your family is and you feel judged by viewers? Why tweet if you feel your tweets are misunderstood?
Why update facebook posts? Why continue to reach out to the world in this quick and dirty, and often misinterpreted way?
I just read a book, " I am the messenger" about a guy named Ed who receives the names or addresses of people and he had to figure out what message they needed to hear and deliver the message. It reminded me of how we live our lives in relative isolation - where we are around people constantly but few people know the personal battles we fight.
Someone told me a few weeks ago that they wished they had my life and I wanted to laugh out loud and ask them what exactly they thought my life consisted of.
A family member commented that they couldn't tell from my facebook posts that we were having any struggles and then someone else told me today they were sorry for everything we were going through! Both of these people would be reading the exact same things on my facebook page - each applying their interpretation to what I am saying.
I'm certainly not going to stop tweeting, or stop posting on facebook, but I am going to try and be more aware of my own perception, and my own biases. I might think a little more about the perception I am giving others by what I am saying and even though it will take some extra brain power - I am really going to try and be aware of the restrictions that our instant communications have on being able to see whole picture - and, Oh, I am going to turn down that request to star in a reality show.
* though it is not directly related really to this blog post I want to mention here that Taber, Alberta has recently passed bylaws restricting swearing and gathering of more than three adults in the community. A twitter awareness campaign launched to get Kevin Bacon to come to Taber and "dance" in protest of the new bylaws. If Kevin hears about it (which I am certain he has) and if he decides to GO to Taber and be a part of this protest, I have plans on attending, in which my degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon will be NIL.