Linda G. Hill

Life in progress

#SoCS – Reality

30 Comments

Is reality real? And if so, how do we know?

It was a question I and a few friends in high school used to like to ponder. It came up after an interesting discussion in one of my classes. We used to love to distract the teacher with such things – this particular discussion was about how you describe what is real, and how you prove it. One example was, if you’re talking on the phone with someone, how do you prove they’re real. You can’t see them. You can hear them, yes. But are they really there?

This makes actually far more sense now than ever before. What is “real” is far more a relevant question in light of the internet. We have Nigerian Prince-bots and people claiming to be someone they aren’t in order to lure people into bad situations every minute of every day. We can talk on the phone without being home: are we always honest about where we are? I’m not – at least not when my mother is on the other end of the line half the time. (Shhhh. Don’t tell her. I can’t edit.)

The wind. The wind is real. But it’s hard to describe.

It’s a scary world out there, and I believe it’s getting scarier. This reality changes our personal realities: or does it? If, when you were a child, you knew that nothing outside your front door could hurt you, and you walked freely, it meant that you were confident. If now you can’t step out the door without fearing your neighbours will assault you, it changes your level of confidence. Does your reality change your nature? Would it depend on how much time you spent in the wrong environment?

What do you think?

SoCS badge 2015This ponderous post is brought to you by Stream of Consciousness Saturday: https://lindaghill.com/2016/03/25/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-march-2616/ Click the link to find out how you too can join in!

Author: LindaGHill

There's a writer in here, clawing her way out.

30 thoughts on “#SoCS – Reality

  1. Wow – a little in my head there, Linda ☺️ Def something to think about … I have to admit, I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching lately. The last 3 yrs have me a bit knocked off kilter … 😜

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  2. Reality is a purely personal and subjective term, which describes something different to everyone who perceives it.

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  3. I love having discussions about reality and especially alternate realities. I just learned from John’s introduction of us minions that you head up the Stream of Consciousness Saturday. I’ve wanted to get into that and I just might have to start — when April is over, that is!
    Looking forward to working with you this month and getting to know you…

    Michele at Angels Bark

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  4. I belong to the Matrix generation: you can imagine what that question might mean for those who were teenagers at the time it came out. When we already questioned everything as every teenager tends to, here comes the ‘reality isn’t actually real’. Wow mind blowing!! Philosophy and Plato’s story of the cave – which we were studying at the time – took on an all new dimension. Those were interesting times.

    I don’t know whether the world is scarier or whether we’re more aware of its danger because we’re bombarded with it via 24/7 news channel and the internet. It’s a smaller world for sure. But sometimes I wonder if it’s not with a purpose that we live in a fear mongering world. I gave up some time ago the idea that there are any true democracies left in the world and fear is a great way to make people accept the police state that transitions into dictatorship: hence the rise of extremism in politics. We’d rather have an enemy and hide behind the fear of what is other before we’re ready to let our comfort go. And there lies the rub. As one of the USA Fathers of the Constitution said (I paraphrase), the day we give up freedom for security is when we deserve neither. Whatever the world comes to I always remember that phrase. And the fact that fear isn’t conducive to peace. History has shown that time and time again.
    Still I grew up knowing not to talk to strangers, not getting home by myself – wait for mom at the end of class – and knowing that sometimes being a girl in a tough (sort of) neighbourhood could be dangerous. I hid behind baggy clothes until I was well in my 20s and it didn’t all have to do with weight and body image issues ;-). In the city there wasn’t such a thing as pyjama parties: at least not for me. Not safe enough. No playing in the streets, too dangerous: cars wouldn’t necessarily stop for kids playing football in the streets.

    Fear has always been there: reality hasn’t changed that much in this regard. Confidence is a state of mind, as is trust. Otherness doesn’t have to mean evil/bad/danger – put whatever word you’ve heard in the media about migrants, muslim, heck communist or jews in the not-so-distant past – but the reality is that it always has. States were built on that concept: 1648 treaties of Westphalia. Better have an enemy ‘outside’ of us, other, than a civil war.

    Sorry I might be rambling now but you did ask πŸ˜› .

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  5. I think the world can be scary – but that it tends to be as scary as we think it is.

    I don’t live in a very scary life. I am aware, not hiding my head in the sand. I meet the eyes of those I encounter. I practice tai chi, and I’m aware of what options I have if I’m attacked. I know that I’m going to die someday – I hope I have a few more decades.

    A scary world would have me flinching and hiding – and I think that’s the exactly wrong approach. Instead, I think those of us who treasure peace and calm need to stand tall, live our lives, be models and examples of a calm and peaceful life.

    My children walk out the door with confidence, and knowledge. They use the internet aware that the person they’re chatting with might not be the person they say they are. I’ve given them tools – information it’s better not to share, and the simple trick, if someone wants to meet them, of saying that it can be worked out with their mom. Anyone above board isn’t going to be afraid of that; anyone with questionable motives probably will cut contact at that point.

    But maybe the best weapon we have is a peaceful, happy home. To the extent we’re able, we give our children what we want. We put our relationships with each other first; our kids know without doubt that their parents are on their side. There’s a huge safety in that.

    Maybe, by now, you’re sorry you asked what I thought! =D

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  6. *teenage friends*
    πŸ™‚

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  7. Wow. All so very philosophical of you and your teenag griends.
    πŸ™‚
    I ask this too, but if the marker of things being real, as with your on the phone example, has to do with what we see then less and less is real to me.
    πŸ™‚
    As I lose more sight, I wonder about what is real, how to have faith in it all, when you can’t see it. Deep deep questions.

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  8. I think there is no doubt our realities change due to circumstance. If you no longer feel safe outside your front door then yes your world has changed…..we played in the street, in other peoples back yards, walked where ever we wanted at any time of the day or night but you’d think twice now days about letting your children do half the things we did. I love that question of what is real and how can you prove it. After all Linda I may be a rogue computer in darkest deepest outback Australia for all you know….

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  9. Forgive me if you’ve heard this one before: there were 2 blind men examining an elephant. One said “I’ts long like a snake.” Another said, “No it’s flat and flappy and leathery.” Both men were 100% right. I think reality is there but we are not equipped to say what it is all by ourselves. We need to hear a lot of perspectives before we ever attempt to proclaim what’s real. Thanks for another fun prompt!

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  10. Interesting question Linda – one that humanity had grappled with forever. I simply judge reality by action. If it works it is real, otherwise it is not. I will extend reality to the words of certain people when they have shown that their words always result in matching actions.

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  11. Reality of what goes around us change us. It changes the way we think and the way we relate to other people. Ever wondered why there is so much distrust? I have too and I came up with this answer, “The people gives the world a new meaning and we play by the script.”

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    • Indeed we do. Just as when we see the good in humanity we tend to act more free. But only if we were that way in the first place, I think. Which is why I wonder if the outside really changes us.

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  12. Ooooh great post! Something I have contemplated before and love to ponder questions like these. Food for thought as I star gaze tonight… πŸ™‚

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  13. Have to try hard not to let bad events make us fearful. πŸ™‚

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  14. I think you and I think enough alike.

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  15. I do believe realities change, particularly from outside influences – mine sure has . . .
    But one thing’s for sure, for now, the wind is real!

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    • The wind here today is certainly real! Something is knocking down branches. πŸ˜›
      Realities change, but how do they change us? Not necessarily in the way we act outwardly, but how we react inwardly, even if we don’t follow through with our reactions? It’s something to think about. πŸ™‚
      Thanks for your comment, Sadie. πŸ™‚

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  17. How do I know anything is real? Perhaps I’m imagining the whole thing. Or, perhaps you are imagining me.
    I once said to a man, that I used to be someone’s imaginary friend. He said I couldn’t be, because I’m real. “Am I?” I asked.
    I don’t think he’s been the same since.

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  18. I haven’t talked with you in a while. How is your book coming along? I received my personal copies (of my book) this last week. thrilling!
    I love the picture of the yellow flowers.
    fiddledeedeebooks.wordpress.com

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