Change of Perspective

Musings on Writing, Reading, and Life Narratives

Fiction writers and literary critics speak of point of view. Social scientists are more likely to discuss perspective. But both of these terms refer to essentially the same construct: the consciousness behind the perception and narration of experience. Each individual’s point of view is unique, and point of view shapes the stories people tell to themselves and to others about themselves and their relationships with their environment. The same event narrated from two different perspectives will produce two different stories.

A change of perspective can expand our perception and reframe our thinking about our experiences. We can all benefit from an occasional change of perspective.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday Summary

A Boy's Life
This long article in The Atlantic treats the difficult subject of transgender children: children, some as young as 3 or 4, who want to be the gender opposite from their physiology. Should parents treat their young children as members of the other gender, or should they seek treatment to help their children adjust to the gender that matches their biological sex? The existence of such transgender children raises the age-old questions of nature vs. nurture: Are transgender children born that way or made that way? Is gender a biological given or a social construction?

Writer Hanna Rosin has done extensive research into this complex topic and does a good job of presenting both sides of the issue. Her presentation of the stories of several children, and their parents, who have experienced transgenderism gives her article an air of poignant reality.

Think You're Multitasking? Think Again
Don't believe the multitasking hype, scientists say. New research shows that we humans aren't as good as we think we are at doing several things at once. But it also highlights a human skill that gave us an evolutionary edge.

Multitasking Teens May Be Muddling Their Brains
Doing several things at once can feel so productive. But scientists say switching rapidly between tasks can actually slow us down.

Even though modern technology allows people to perform more tasks at the same time, juggling tasks can make our brains lose connections to important information. Which means, in the end, it takes longer because we have to remind our brains what we were working on.

The Ties That Bind
In this New York Times blog Allison Arieff considers what kind of legacy our dependence on technology will leave for our children.

First Person Plural
In this article in The Atlantic Paul Bloom looks at the definition of happy:
Many researchers now believe, to varying degrees, that each of us is a community of competing selves, with the happiness of one often causing the misery of another. This theory might explain certain puzzles of everyday life, such as why addictions and compulsions are so hard to shake off, and why we insist on spending so much of our lives in worlds­—like TV shows and novels and virtual-reality experiences—that don’t actually exist. And it provides a useful framework for thinking about the increasingly popular position that people would be better off if governments and businesses helped them inhibit certain gut feelings and emotional reactions.

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