Sunday, September 26, 2010

Perception is Your Reality

Did Ya’ Ever Notice that people may see the same thing, but all have different perspectives on what they saw? Here is one example of this—the picture which some people see as two lamps, but others view as two faces instead. Why does this happen? What causes them to see differences in the same event? In my book “Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male” I address this and use the line “Perception is your reality” to explain it. I say that I noticed that men and women are different and process info differently. I also state that neither may be wrong, but that outside influences may affect how they process the information.

Let’s take another example. In my town right now there is a big buzz surrounding the shooting of a man by Metro police at a Costco one busy Saturday in July. They are holding an inquest (like a jury trial) to see if the police were justified in shooting him. As the witnesses start telling their versions of what happened, although they were all present for the same shooting many differences begin to emerge. Does this mean some are right and some are wrong? Probably not, just that they all processed the info differently. Many of the younger witnesses “saw” things in a different way than those who were older. And men saw things different than the women.

The younger people didn’t see a gun being drawn by the man who dies. They saw him make a movement towards his side or back, but never saw a gun. The older witnesses actually saw a gun…but the men saw a black one, while the women saw a silver one. Why the disparity? Could it be how they were brought up? The younger people may have less focus for actual situations which arise. They are so busy with I-Pads, cell phones and such, that maybe they don’t focus in like others. Maybe the older women don’t know much about guns so they just assume they saw a silver one, like the ones they grew up with while watching Gunsmoke or John Wayne movies. The men all saw black ones and could describe it and its holster…most of the other witnesses never saw a holster. Are the men trying to prove they are better at knowing guns, or are they just making this up to feel important?

The younger witnesses remember hearing “Get on the Ground” being said many times by many voices. The older witnesses swear they heard “Drop the Gun and get on the ground” being said two or three times by the same officer. Even the policeman who gave the commands doesn’t remember saying “Drop the gun”, but there it is clear as day on the 911 tape right before “Get on the ground” was said three times. How can so many people hear different things at the same event? Again can age play a part? Nowadays, on most cop shows, you hear “Get on the Ground” or nothing at all as the suspect is being shot with a taser gun. Back in the day when the older witnesses were growing up, “Drop your weapon” was always used. This leads to another point—if the office said “drop your gun” on the tape, wouldn’t it be safe to say the offender was holding a weapon?

Another example of this comes when different people read my book. Some read it as a memoir—thinking everything must be true. Others read it as a fiction story—assuming that all of it is just a story. Even though in the preface of “Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male’ I state that “Everything you read has a basis in truth…some events may have been embellished or altered” the question remains is it truth or fiction? Does it really matter at all?

The younger the reader is, the more they believe it is fiction because they don’t have any situations in their life to compare mine to. The book is about a young boy of the sixties whose parents get a divorce. Nowadays, divorce is very common, but back then it was considered a sin and thus hidden from everyday life. Those involved were shocked and reacted differently than they may in the world today. The older the reader the more they understand the circumstances back then.

The journey the young boy takes as he searches for acceptance and happiness takes him on adventures where he makes mistakes, but doesn’t realize them until much later. Once again, the younger reader doesn’t get this, while the older ones do. Sometimes it is easier to look back at what you did and realize it was wrong than it is to do while your doing it.

The one thing that all who read my book can agree on is that it is "a fascinating story." That "the stories that have emerged are ripe with feeling and diversity." And that "everyone who has felt different at any time of their life will understand the true meaniong behind this book."

In both cases--the shooting and the reading of my book--the perceptions which a person takes away from them are indeed their own reality. Who am I to say if they are right or wrong? All I know is that even when two or more people see (or read) the same thing, the experience isn’t always the same for each. Sometimes your upbringing, your age and those things that you believe in will take precedent in how you perceive what happened and how you react to it.

Obviously you don't want to recreate the shooting, but you can form your own opinions about my book. Why not buy copy from Amazon and see what your reactions will be. Please share them with me here or on under the “Guestbook” tab.

Remember, perceptions really are your own reality. And don’t let anyone tell you any different.


  1. Very interesting Phil!

    We have different perspectives in life and different associations in various situations.Therefore it is very crucial to know a person so we can justify or unjustify their acts and reactions.

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  3. That says so much. Unless you talk to each other you never know what the intended message is. This is how small altercations can turn into bigger ones...and how people get mad at each other. But do we all take the time to acually talk to each? Not in this day and age. Most people just ignore and go on their own way believing they are the ones who are correct! A little bit of conversation never hurt anyone...

  4. In many situations witnesses see what they want to see. Some differences arise due to eyesight problems; hearing can be effected by where they are standing with respect to the location of the incidence. Two auditors listening to the same conversation often have different notes on what's said in an interview. I've even met police officers who did not understand what was objective evidence.

  5. Excellent presentation after our earlier discussion...done good, Phil! LOL