We have many ways of determining, and testing, “what is real.” Or, more fully, “what is reality.” We use these, mostly unconscious, tests to shape our world view. Which in turn shapes who we are being and even how we experience life, leading to our behaviours and reactions.
One of these tests, and perhaps one of the most hidden of them all, is the one of agreement reality.
As social creatures, we are very much in tune with what’s being expressed around us by our current groups, and how people respond to what we profess and do. Get acceptance and agreement, and that reinforces our reality. Find dissonance or disagreement, and it creates impetus to review, re-evaluate, and shift. So the more agreement we get to our reality and how we express it, the more real it becomes.
This is why the common concept of an echo chamber is such an insidious thing. The circular yes-ing and concurring between those within creates a massive agreement reality that can become all encompassing, especially given enough time.
And then… enter the internet. One of the wonders of the ‘net is that we can find and connect with all sorts of people of all stripes from all over, almost all to easily. The problem and pitfall of the ‘net is that we can find and connect with all sorts of people of all stripes from all over, and in this case, it really is all to easy. Anyone who has a particular view (and reality) can find at least a few more who share that view. Therefore incomplete, inaccurate, harmful, malice driven, and similar views can easily gain agreement reality traction.
Worse, this is further aided by the underlying website algorithms that are designed solely to drive us towards that which it thinks we will engage with.* It does not know, nor care, whether what it’s bringing together is bountiful or baneful. It just sends everyone that way.** Which means those with the thinnest of realities can be brought together to form an agreement reality.
There isn’t really a conclusion here; this is more of a jumping off point. To becoming aware, and mindful, about this reality test both in ourselves and in others. To exploring it as lens on our disunity and of our isolation. And as a foundation a of how we engage, of what we press for, and of how we can break cycles.
* This is even to the level that a search engine will, even if you visit it in private mode so you are a blank slate, use your IP address to pre-determine what it thinks you will want to see. It is pre-shaping the agreement reality for you….
** And, worse, in the interest of engagement (and therefore our revenue-generating attention) it increases the intensity of the content it is directing towards.