Language and Our Internal Reality

I’m constantly reminded through experience that we live in a world where few people are in touch with a close or accurate form of reality. They exist in their own reality, and like me and like you, this is but a representation within our own minds.
This is significant because it means it is real to them.

So what is our reality? The answer: whatever you want to be reality, is your reality.

If you’ve ever noticed how you comprehend what others are saying and how you think — outside of intuitions and emotions — you will notice you talk to yourself, we all do. We formulate things in our mind, repeat what we’ve heard and try to make sense of what that means.

These determinations confirm or deny the things we believe to be correct or incorrect and often under a dualistic mode of thinking (right or wrong) we make conclusions.

In short, this is a process of using words to communicate with ourselves and therefore our words can shape our reality. The things we tell ourselves we believe, and because we’re telling ourselves, the way we tell ourselves, aka our language, has an important role to play.

And this is why our internal reality is fraught with danger.

[The English Language] “becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” — Politics and the English Language — George Orwell.

During the 1950’s George Orwell crusaded for the proper use of language because of its power; his cause was noble. It was to shed light on how the prose of what we hear can determine so much of our understanding, and that those who know this can use it against us. The use of propaganda by the US and the USSR during this time was wide spread and damaging to their respective country’s and the global level of thought.

Within the US, ‘communism’ became a dirty word, even though democracy upholds many communal benefits. ‘Commies’ were turned into something that everyone was to despise because they were the devil incarnate.

The idealogical move to make the word Communism the equivalent of dirt was hugely hypocritical. Still many peoples thinking cannot move past this ideology and they don’t bother to dig any deeper. Their thought process has been damaged, they listen but they do not think. Keep in mind these are people we are talking about, not numbers; real people not thinking for themselves.

The creation of dynamics like this can lead to placid acceptance of someone else’s ideology and is what Orwell crusaded against. A chilling example is the placid acceptance of the US’s entry into Vietnam. Though we don’t talk of this Dogma because it’s uncomfortable.

The USSR’s use of propaganda was much further reaching. Orwell’s book Animal Farm is the perfect example of this. A degradation where half truths can be used to push an ideology to the point where ‘we are all equal, but some of us are more equal than others’ is frightening.

Words have power and loose language can be used to tell an incomplete story. A gradual creep away from truth can shroud edgy points of view that some do not want others to know about. Shrouding these points of view is used to confuse and mislead, much like the definition of propaganda.

May 2018

Though the Cold War is over, the use of poor language continues. The above situation in May 2018 was presented in two ways. From one perspective it spoke nothing violence, only of death — two very different connotations of what happened. The prose is used to try and shield the readers from things the publisher did not want them to think about and toward things they do want them to think. When in reality, the truth is at odds with what is presented.

Obstacles

Our comprehension of today’s media is a huge challenge due to the state of our understanding, our biases and of the use of language. Even Medium has become a minefield full of contradictions and vested interests. We are challenged because the majority of writing is geared towards a purpose of self interest rather than a spread of knowledge or truth.

Much of todays media is easy to digest. Publishers know that if it bleeds it leads, people want dopamine hits, and dopamine hits sell. So the media is full of what makes money more than what is truth.

We form ‘expert panels’ instead full of commentators who use gross generalisations and ignorantly spread misinformation that is the only information some people bother to consume. The use of language is powerful and damaging in these situations.

We’re personally responsible as well. Our biases make us cling to the things we feel comfortable around, so the media gives us the language we feel most comfortable hearing. Case in point the example above.

Robert Zunikoff on Unsplash

We fail to face the things that are confronting and uncomfortable even though they cannot hurt us. We boost our ego’s by expressing broad and uninformed trying to sound smarter than we are. Unfortunately, the price we pay for this is truth and by extension an accurate depiction of the world around us — of reality.

This is the point we have reached. Where we undeservingly want to create a comfortable world in a world that has never been comfortable. Our wit, critical thinking and feed of truthful information has suffered because of this. We live at a lower level on consciousness and awareness, even though we want free speech and continue campaign for net neutrality.

The Tipping Point

So where does it end? Do we get to a point where everything we read and hear is complete nonsense but blinded purported by the majority as truth? A point where we cringe from uncomfortableness but expect personal growth? Where the idea of any sort of challenge is repulsive to the vast majority of us but we still expect a strength of will?

This living of a utopian life cannot happen in a non existent reality. You can’t actively flee reality and expect truth. This self-deception cripples us and takes us away from things that could ultimately help us.

But, the world is still good.

‘The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.’ — Haldir, Lord of the Rings — J.R.R Tolkien

Think of the things that make you smile…

  • A healthy child
  • Finding the best in others and by your encouragement know that they now breathe easier because of you.
  • Enduring the betrayal of false friends and coming out the other side more confident and resolute.

Ralph Waldo Emerson tell us this is how to have succeeded — how to have lived. These things are real.

David East on Unsplash

Control Your Language Control Your Thoughts

Though this article is a rambling collection of language, thoughts, success and quotes, it tries to give examples and describe how the determination of our reality is really within our power.

There are things that are real like the joy of a healthy child. Like us brimming with emotion of love and happiness. Though these are often fleeting, they do exist.

There are also dangers like the unquestioning faith in an ideology, the trust in an undeliverable promise of utopian comfort, and the placid acceptance of dogma marred by creeping insidious language. These are comfortable creations of the way we want things to be, but not as they are.

Our ability to understand what is real comes down to what we hear and read and what we tell ourselves.

So if you see something that is uncomfortable. Tell us why it is uncomfortable. If you see something you feel is taboo, let it be taboo. If your thoughts scare you, tell us why they scare you. Don’t cover the situation in icing sugar, tell it honestly, like you see it. You’re doing us all a disservice if you don’t.

Touching the honesty in this way of seeing makes us uncomfortable, but it is real. The world is uncomfortable, so if you’re feeling the same, you may be closer to the truth than you know.

The words you use have power. The way to describe things to yourself shapes your thinking. Don’t put yourself at risk of dogma, it isn’t and never was for your well being. It serves only as a purpose to pacify you and narrow your thinking such that you accept someone else’s idea’s as the truth.

Look for conflict because it’s probably honest.