There’s something wrong with the way we’re interacting—with those around us but predominantly with ourselves. We live in a virtual society, one dominated by likes and followers and “friends” and…deep breath. The list goes on. Do we really understand though? Do we understand how terrifyingly harmful confiding in the illusive hideout of our devices can be? I don’t say this in an effort to sound like an “old soul” and or simply act as a contrarian member of our generation. I’m coming from a place of stark honesty with myself and you too.
Denotation versus connotation. It can really throw us for a loop. Say you’re looking at a television. Sure, we’ve come to know a rectangular device that displays moving, illuminated images as a “TV” (it’s obviously more complicated than that, but you get the gist). The word used to define this object (i.e. “television”) is the connotative definition, or its meaning in the context of our contemporary society. It only has this meaning because we have created such.
Denotatively, however, what do we see? What do we observe, as unbiased as possible? Check in with your senses. We see merely a “rectangular device that displays moving, illuminated images.” It’s typically black or silver. It often says “Sony” or “LG” or “Panasonic” at its bottom. Sometimes it’s mounted on a wall, and sometimes it sits freely on a stand of sorts.
The list of surface details is endless. If someone from the 1500s miraculously emerged in our current era, he or she would see the word “television” as nothing more than a meaningless combination of letters. He or she, visually, would observe the surface features I mentioned but would be unable to conclude why? What? How?
Open up Instagram and begin scrolling. What do you see? A latte? A sunset? Two smiling faces? Why do you know what I’m talking about when I use these descriptions, these labels, of sorts? The answer is: connotatively and societally, we’ve given meaning to such things to the point where there’s universal comprehension and interpretation of most visual spectacles we encounter in life. However, all of these “subjects” are fairly objective (the latte, sunset, and smiling faces).
What about when we enter the realm of subjectivity? Again, open up Instagram. What do you see this time?
These designations are not denotative. They are connotative but, more bluntly, they are judgmental—they’ve gained their connotation through the widespread judgements and ideals that our society possesses. Our job, as the users and main demographic that makes up such virtual society, is to be honest with ourselves. To recognize that the judgments we give to the things that we see are…bullshit, really. Just because a norm is widely understood or practiced by our society does not mean that it’s valid. Sure, it’s cliché but…beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.
Photos are made up of pixels, just like words are made up of letters and matter is made up of atoms. Everything can be broken down…and broken down…and broken down.
…your confidence; your sense of reality; your ability to distinguish realness. Don’t let virtuality blind you from reality. Be a conscious-consumer. Be smart! Engage with the world and the things within it mindfully and with awareness.