A User Friendly Illusion

See yourself as your greatest technology, Marilyn Ferguson

Because my blogs have focused on The Way We See Things, with the minds eye, this metaphor is one of my favorites. Artificial technology has been with us for a long time. It is dominating our behavior. Human technology has been with us forever. It is basically neglected. This mind’s eye software metaphor can help us pay attention.

It has been said that there is no technological device, no matter how sophisticated, that can equal the power, flexibility, creativity and user friendliness of the human mind.  We all possess the world’s finest multi-sensory learning device right behind our eyes. All we have to do is believe it and use it. To see yourself as your greatest technology is to see your mind as your greatest resource. Your mind’s eye “software” has a user friendly way of seeing things.

Tor Norretranders, in his 1998 book The User Illusion, says that the way we see things on our computer screen is a user illusion; it is the mental picture the user has of what actually exists. Metaphorically this is the way we see things; believing is seeing. The eye sees what it looks for. The deployment of icons as metaphors for familiar items on a desktop revolutionized the use of computers. For computer users, icons created the illusion of easy-to-work-with folders, trashcans, calculators, scissors, paste, printers and so forth. No such items actually exist in the computer. What the computer user sees is actually an easy to understand representation of what does exist, millions of sequences of 0’s and 1’s. This illusion makes the computer seem less complicated and intimidating — more user-friendly. Norretranders says that the user illusion is a superb metaphor for human consciousness.

Adopting a computer metaphor will be helpful here. The software of your computer sends a set of coded instructions to tell it what to look for and what to do; it programs your computer.  Your worldview (your collection of beliefs about life and the universe) is the software that provides operating instructions for your mind’s’ eye the same way your computer is programmed; Someone else programs your computer software; but you program your mind’s software. Your mind is the author of its own software. However David Nyberg warned us: “Human self-deception is one of the most impressivesoftware programs ever devised.”

 Most people make sure their computer software is up-to-date but fail to pay attention to the possible obsolesce of their mind’s eye software. How often do you update your beliefs and worldview? Seeing the sun rise and set is a user illusion (the sun doesn’t move). Throwing things away is a user illusion (there is no such thing as away). Only one of these illusions is harmful. Can you identify some other general or personal user illusions that are helpful or harmful?

 “Reality is an illusion. Only illusion is real.”  Don Quixote


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