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Recently I attended a comedy festival and chose to go see one of the comedians’ shows with a friend of mine. This specific comedian had based his jokes around making fun of different people in certain countries. I had found the entire show completely amusing- it was very entertaining. However, when I questioned my friend about how she found it she was absolutely bewildered. She had found the jokes very offensive and humiliating towards the people of the ethnic groups that were mocked. It was a surprise to me that her perception of the show was entirely different from mine.
The same event we had both experienced had seemed to produce different reactions. The situation made me realise that the window through which we perceive reality cannot be objectively verified due to the subjectivity of a person’s feelings, thoughts or memories. ‘After you’ve heard two eyewitness accounts of an auto accident, you begin to worry about history,’ was written by an unknown author. Hence the perception of reality can be seen through many windows. This circumstance made me question the validity of an objective reality in any situation and to what degree can certain factors influence the way we perceive reality.
Variations in the perception of reality can indeed be affected by the age and what has been experienced by the individual during their maturation process. Overtime one person’s perception of reality changes in that their initial knowledge of reality is entirety different from the reality they may perceive years later. The difference between the perceptions of reality of a forty year old adult to a ten year old child will vary greatly. A child has not yet been subjected to or experienced any major events; so their view on reality has not yet properly matured.
As an individual matures, it is evident that they have encountered diverse situations that influence the way which they recognise reality. The perception of reality of a young child is still one of perplexity which is also experienced by the young Robert whose views on the world around him are not quite developed as is apparent in the memoir, ‘The Shark Net. ‘ Robert’s perception at the time of arrival into Perth was of complete awe and excitement, ‘Everything I saw was the great unknown,’ whereas Dorothy’s perception was, ‘it might as well be Africa.
‘ So you see, the perception of adventure of a young boy differs significantly to that of the perception of fear and insecurity of an isolated and foreign region of an adult. Hence reality can be seen through a series of lenses. The process of growing up in a certain environment involves the introduction of moral values whereby one’s view on reality begins to form. By living in that area you grow up with views and values that are first instilled into you by your parents but then later on you are open to a wide range of views you can apply to any person, place or event.
As can be seen the novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, the young character Scout is growing up in an environment where her father, a lawyer, is defending a black man. Therefore, the character is being subjected to certain views and values that will later influence the way in which she perceives reality. Also, Robert’s environment comprised of Saturday movies, bumpers, sparrows, moral agents and boiling brains and this was all part of his reality. Indeed, these themes formed the basis of Robert’s reality.
So it can be inferred that people’s personal feelings and thoughts that they have accumulated in their maturation process prevent the production of an objective reality; rather the creation of multiple realities to one situation. David G. Myers of Social Psychology once wrote ‘There is an objective reality out there, but we view it through the spectacles of our beliefs, attitudes, and values. ‘ The environment you have been surrounded by, beliefs and moral values you have held all play a pivotal role and influence the way in which we perceive reality.
The past of an individual and the memories experienced during their past plays a significant role in the way in which they perceive reality. Memories and experiences basically shape our understanding of what is important to us and what is not. Hence these are the formations of different perceptions. Robert’s ‘tunnelling craze’ was decided by Royce that ‘the boys’ habit must have been picked up from parents and grandparents,’ who had experience as a bomber pilot and obviously felt no harm in the situation. On the other hand Dorothy’s reaction was distraught and angry.
‘She couldn’t believe mothers allowed their children to go to school barefoot, much less risk suffocation by burrowing underground. ‘ This indicates that these two perceptions of the reality of the situation are fuelled by the dissimilar experiences felt by both parents. Also, considering the latest tragic reality of the bushfires; a child who had lost their home and entire possessions would now hold a different perspective on reality due to their experiences and memories to that of a bystander to the horrific events. Indeed, one’s own experience can affect the way in which they perceive a certain reality.
It is shown that even the same event can have two conflicting realities perceived by two different people with various experiences. Though we may encounter the same event, person or place there are external and internal factors that can influence the manner in which we perceive a specific reality. The windows that allow sight into perception have numerous layers. It is impossible to view reality from an objective perspective due to the personal life we have created around us. From being a small child to an adult has shown to be a factor influencing the knowledge of reality.
Therefore, along the path of our lives we are provided with certain views and values that contribute to our home and external environment and the experiences and memories we come across make a person perceive a situation in a different lens. As Bryan Singer once said, ‘We don’t live in a world of reality; we live in the word of how we perceive reality. ‘