Erin Lausten

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Why can’t you read my mind?

Posted by erinlausten on October 22, 2010

Words written: 27,379           Currently Reading: Changeless by Gail Carriger

I have been thinking a lot about perception lately. You kind of have to when you start writing about what you think and sharing, especially since feedback will ultimately be the result. There will invariably be miss-communication, complications, and frustrations. And there are two reasons for this (I am sure there are more, but these are the BIG two). The first is perception the second is language.

Let’s look at language first. Ours is an imperfect language. To be truthful, all language is imperfect, and as imperfect beings it is not unusual that it should be such. The reason computers will never be able to “think” like us is the same as why our language will never truly express the meaning of our thoughts. We are taking the intangible and trying to give it structure. Meaning changes by the moment, and so a word that represented one thought the moment before has been adapted for an entirely new concept. This is, of course, only within the mind of the person with that thought. Taking that and translating the new meaning is where communication becomes complicated.

This then brings us to perception. Not only does our definition of a word change but the initial understanding to the concept that word represents is wholly dependent on the perception of the individual. It is a rare moment when two individuals are able to have a thought that mirrors the other. Rare, and a little scary.

So, where does this perception come from? Well, as far as I have seen, it comes from both environment and from our unique consciousness. The consciousness is independent from the world at large and something we can never truly explain or share (this doesn’t stop us from trying though, but I will get to that later). The environment, on the other hand is that piece that is shared and we latch onto this with a rabid hunger. And so we find ourselves searching for those with shared experiences.

But then we get confused and think that those things that are unique to our perception is actually part of the shared environment and so why doesn’t anyone understand? Yeh, I think you can see where this is going. We get the Women are from Venus Men are from Mars thing, we get the “you just don’t understand!” thing. (Read Deborah Tannen, trust me.) It’s nuts. But that doesn’t stop us from trying though.

And this brings me to the final thought. Why do we have this inherent need for others to understand that which is unique within ourselves and our thoughts? We are always trying to express ourselves and it is an ordeal. So why on earth do we do it? And for this one, I have no answer (well, I probably do, but not today).


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