Is Perception Our Reality?

If I were to say that the United States was the freest country in the world, the best economy in the world and that the world is full of democracies, you would believe me, right?

And if I told you that the Obama Administration got nothing done in the past 18 months, you would almost accept that as fact, right?

The national media and politicians have been harping the fact that perception is our reality. But is that true? That is a complicated question, with an even more complicated answer.

Based on the links above, one cannot say that the United States is the best economy in the world, and be supported with facts. Also, if one was to say that Obama has done nothing, that person is only showcasing their limited view and understanding of governance.

But those opinions are popular. And due to the popularity, the Democrats suffered a defeat that, with better preparation, could have been avoided.

The Deal with Perception

On one end, perception is our society’s reality. People trust what other people trust, and will repeat certain thoughts and opinions once it has gone through a vetting process the communications world likes to call “social proofing.” If 10 people believe it, and each of their 10 friends believe it, then it must be true.

The problem I have with perception, is the matter of perspective. Since there can be multiple perspectives, and those perspectives can birth different perceptions, then which is the right one? Because unfortunately, sometimes the perspective with the most votes won’t necessarily have the most facts. And that is a dangerous situation to be in.

Reality Bites

As communications professionals, we must keep a pulse on perception as well as reality. Because if we look at the facts stated above, the United States is the 8th best economy in the world (and declining), and the 24th freest (in the press) in the world. The majority of the world are not democracies. Also, Obama has done more programs, broken more barriers, then most presidents in modern history. That is not perception, that is fact. Ask the common 8th grade literate American however, and they will have a different narrative.

Why is that the case? I’m not sure. The incentive of knowing reality- knowledge- I would think should trump ignorance. However, if that knowledge erases what the ignorance gives them -happiness- I can see why actually knowing facts is unappealing.

Any thoughts on this?

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Is Perception Our Reality?

  1. Always making us think, Dwayne. Me, I post videos of Jean-Claude Van Damme dancing. But you make us think. And I like that!

    There a a few problems leading to the decline of intelligence in this country.

    First, we all think we are a lot busier than we actually are. People say they don’t have time to read the newspaper (online or print) or watch the news on a regular basis. We can YouTube for hours on end, but that’s fun. How can news stories/reports compete with this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LNv76e5OKY. I really think being busy has become an excuse to being informed. I know people who didn’t vote on Nov. 2 because they didn’t want to feel rushed going to a rec soccer game.

    Second, many news organizations have stopped playing the role of watchdog and have succumbed to just giving us the fluff news we want. So who cares what Obama has done for us, I want to know when Justin Bieber is making his next TV appearance.

    Third, FOX and MSNBC. Their programming is filled with completely subjective content (I refuse to call them reports) that their viewers view as fact. Going back to the “We’re too busy” topic, viewers of these programs hear what the hosts say, despite them having no sources, and take it as fact. They don’t take the time to research and learn that Glenn Beck just lied to them. Why? Well, who has the time to get on the Internet and do research? Do you realize how long it takes to type in factcheck.org, let alone actually read what’s there? There’s a marathon of “The Office” on, I don’t have time for research.

    I have more, but I already wrote too much. I have to go back to YouTube. That Charlie Bit My Finger video never gets old!

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