Other People Affect What You See, Hear, and Say

“I was blind all the time I was learning to see” ~ Grateful Dead, Help On The Way

I’m listening to the Audible version of The Overstory during my daily walks. Yesterday, I heard the Bullhorn of Truth in the dialogue of two characters on page 430:

”What keeps us from seeing the obvious?”

Douglas puts his hand to the brass bull’s horn. ”And? What does?”

”Mostly other people.”

[Before proceeding with my remarks. Here is a fun tidbit. I just pulled a bookmark randomly from a pack I received from Amazon a couple days ago. Each has a quote from a famous person. The one I selected (without peeking) to mark the passage I quoted above, says:

”Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice.” ~ Steve Jobs]

These aren’t exactly the same ideas, but are next of kin. Other people influence what we pay attention to, and therefore what we see and hear. Their opinions hold the power to silence and shelve our own opinions.

I could spend a month searching the psychological literature to find supports for those sentences above. I’m not going to do that. They are self-evident to me. I’m sold. I just wanted to package it up for your consideration. 

To look below the surface, you have to know there’s more to see

None of us can see everything. We have to be selective. And we are constructed in a way that we cannot simultaneously see what is in front of, and behind, us. Unlike an owl, which can spin its head around, or a fly, with eyes that allow 360° vision, we can look in only one direction at a time. And often, we don’t really know what we’re looking at. To truly see a thing requires some idea of how much there is to look for, does it not? Who decides where we look? Who tells us how long to look, or much to look for? Who tells us what to pay attention to? Where do these impulses come from, if not other people? 

(For God’s sake do not get me started about the algorithms Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms use to restrict what you see and hear about in order to capture your attention for sale to advertisers. The truth asserted above is the basis of their business models, by virtue of which, they are the richest companies in the history of the world.)

Who have you permitted to determine what you get to see? And who decides what you get to say about it? There is more going on friend, than the carefully curated world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you to the truth. (with my tip of the cap to Morpheus’ quote in The Matrix.)

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