How much of the world do we actually experience? Of course, I’m not bemoaning the shortness of human life, or the narrow range of the visual spectrum, or the insensitivities of our skins and tongues. There’s no doubt we’re missing out on a lot. But within the world of our experience – how much of it do we in fact experience?
This is a big question always, but it was particularly big over the course of the 17th and 18th centuries. Some thinkers abided by the scholastic dictum – “there’s nothing in the mind that isn’t first presented by the senses” – which means that all of the content in our model of the world is gained through sensory experience. There is something very neat and tidy about this – nothing comes from nothing, and everything is accounted for.
It’s really interesting to think about this, because in my industry, it is so often the case that my paycheck is built around creating fabricated experience. (Or if you prefer, an experience that the potential consumer just hasn’t yet lived most likely because they haven’t bought our product)
Example: you can ask anyone to, “describe the moon,” and everyone will tell you about its geography, and that there is no gravity etc. etc. but all of this is second-hand information, except for the handfuls of astronauts who actually visited the moon. You can also in the same way ask someone to “describe Africa, or India” and you will also get very narrow, racist, and white savior ideals left over from imperialism, that are widely informed by the Media, all of which are second hand experience.
Where this gets interesting is that marketing and advertising have become such a normalized structure in our daily lives, that the experiencing of a second-hand experience has reached the point that it has become it’s own curated first hand experience (Or at the very least packaged and sold as first hand) Tourism is a really good example, because it’s a whole industry that specializes in accommodating traveller’s in intentionally visiting heavily touristed areas in high season, with all the same luxuries that would be accessible from home. But at the same time allowing said traveller to comfortably expose themselves to a different culture and perspective. The experience can be called “first-hand” but it’s not quite as much an authentic first hand experience. But man do those photos look nice on facebook – which only perpetuates the original marketing efforts.
What an authentic experience is, is another matter entirely – but staying on topic, None of these first hand experiences are forced, or painful, or uncomfortable in any way for the individual experiencing them. The curation of it, robs the individual of the ability to take something away which will allow them to grow, reflect, and thrive because of it.
Which brings me to the discussion on trigger warnings.
I’m still processing my opinion on the trigger warnings conversation, but I do feel that they are definitely a symptom of us trying to avoid uncomfortable, and negative experiences through the act of curation of content experienced in real life.
Right now we are so bombarded and overwhelmed by this advertising infrastructure, that being able to filter and parse the information to only what is relevant to us is going to become vital, its the natural conclusion. The cause for concern for me, is at what point will the filtration become curation – intended or not – of ones own life. Within our world of experience, how much will be the result of curation through filter systems. How much of the curation will be conscious. How much or our experiences are already like this, I mean just last week there was that girl on facebook who faked an entire study abroad trip to asia for a summer. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ravishly/dutch-woman-fakes-trip-to_b_5807572.html