Pretend, for a moment, that the Internet represents reality — the universe, all that exists and ever will exist. No one knows exactly what the Internet really looks like. How the Internet appears to any given user depends on the physical properties of the computer he or she uses to access it. A user who has only viewed the Internet through a monochrome computer that just displays text does not even have the concept of an Internet with graphics and colors. To him or her, “reality” is black and white and full of words. If this user never comes into contact with someone who views the Internet through a graphics-capable computer, the concept of graphics will never be known to him or her. Infact, he or she would never even know they aren’t seeing the “full” reality.
Likewise, any theory this monochrome, text-only user develops about the Internet (“reality”) will certainy not be the entire story, because he or she is unware that the story is incomplete. There is nothing in the monochrome, text-only user’s reality that matches the experience of the graphic user’s reality.
This exercise is designed to serve as a (crude) analogy to our own situations as humans trying to figure out the meaning of our existence in what we call “reality.” It seems as though we have it figured out, that the information we gather through our eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin is full and complete — but is it? How much of the full picture do our senses give us? Are we like the graphical Internet user, who sees all the bells and whistles? Or are we like the monochrome, text-only Internet user whose sees only black and white; text and no images? How much, if any, information in reality are we missing because we lack a sensory organ to detect it?
As humans, it’s easy for us to apply human characteristics and perspectives on almost anything we encounter, and place human labels on every function that other organisms have that are similar to ours. But we must remember that we, like the monochrome, text-only Internet user, may be limited in our view of the world. Everything that we know (or think we know) could actually be false, incorrect and outlandish, because we may not be not getting the whole story. Will we ever get the full story? Are we even meant to know the full story? Only time will tell…
“Reality is merely an illusion, although a very persistent one.” – Albert Einstein