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.

[Return to MetaPerspective]

Monday, January 11, 2010

Knowing Is Better Than Not Knowing

John is a friend of mine from college. We haven’t seen each other in nearly 40 years, but we have annually exchanged Christmas cards, letters, and photos. Last week the card I sent to John this past Christmas came back with “deceased--return to sender” hand written on the envelope.

Stunned and saddened, I cranked up Google and searched for John’s full name and the city where he lives. Near the bottom of the results page I found a link to a Facebook page for people who had formerly worked at one of John’s past employers. On that page was a posting about John’s death, followed by information about his funeral. I sent a message to the poster, and he kindly replied with the details. Through Google I was also able to pull up John’s obituary from his home-town newspaper.

Lots of people complain that we’re living in an age of TMI (too much information) and erosion of privacy. On occasion I am one of those people. But in this situation I was grateful for the ability to find something out. Granted, my knowing how John died does not change the fact of his death. But somehow, just knowing how he died made me feel a bit better. If there were no Internet, I would just have known that John had died, and that would have been all. So, at least in this case, I appreciate all the information that’s floating around “out there.”

Because, sometimes, knowing is better than not knowing.



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