Personal Framing

Everyone has a personal lens that they see the world through, thus skewing their perception of reality.  It is in this sense or via this realization that while our collective reality is consistent and real, our individual realities are unique and can all be skewed.  The key is to make sure you are skewed in the ‘right’ direction.

Photography provides an apt analogy here.  There is no such thing as an absolutely accurate camera or photograph.  We use the phrase, “The camera doesn’t lie” but that is not technically accurate.  While a camera will record what it sees, thus it does not lie per se; you may be the person taking the shot and the resulting photograph can look very different from what you saw or even what another camera took at the same instant.  Cameras sense light and  interpret light as the reproduced images.  The reproduced images are a function of the camera’s sensory input and its ability to reproduce the recorded images.

Unfiltered Image:

A simple camera consists of only a body, lens, fixed aperture, fixed shutter, and fixed light sensor (film).  Very basic cameras have restricted lighting levels, distance to the image, focus and clarity, etc that will result in a properly exposed image.  The more complex the camera, the more control over the exposure is offered.  You can adjust the aperture and shutter speed to get the desired exposure of the image.  You can use lens covers to change the colors, reduce glare, etc.  You can changed lenses to produced magnified images, distorted images, etc.  In other words, the world becomes more nuanced with the use of a complex camera.  If your world was restricted to the use of a simple camera, your world view would be smaller.

Using black and white photography as a metaphor is also helpful when explaining personal perceptions or framing.  When you take a B&W photo using a camera with a clear lens what you get is a picture of the world which is a little black, a little white, and many shades of grey.  Photographers have the ability to place filter lenses on the main lens of a camera to product different effects.  If you place a polarizing lens on a camera it will reduce the amount of horizontal light; it gets rid of the glare.  This can produce an enhanced image.  The picture will seem clearer and more vibrant.  To borrow a phrase from myself, it skews the picture in the right direction (enhance details and clarity; analogous to the right image, truth).

Polarized Lens Image:

You can place color lenses on a camera which will saturate certain wavelengths of light.  Placing a dark red lens on a camera shooting B&W will create a highly contrasted image.  The light grays become white and the dark grays become black.  The resulting image looks like a comic book cartoon image.  While the image is interesting, most people would say it does not provide an accurate image of reality (it is a false image; it is wrong).

High Contrast Image:

Psychological framing is akin to a distortion of reality.  Everyone does this.  Psychological framing is the reason first impressions are so important.  You get framed quickly by others when they meet you.  Some people form ridge frames, others form flexible frames that bend and expand with time and more information.  Framing is automatic however, you literally can not help yourself from doing it.

People form frames through internalizing the external world.  They form a picture of how things are.  Education provides an example of institutionalized framing.  If you go to school to learn a trade or get a degree you learn to think like the professional you have become.  Engineers learn to think like an engineer.  Teachers learn to think like a teacher.  Lawyers learn to think like a lawyer, etc.  There is value in this but there is also a cost.  Depending on your own predisposition for framing you may form a rigid professional view or a flexible one.  These views are not limited to work, they can influence social interactions and personal lives.

The most lasting psychological frames are developed early and repeated frequently.  The culture you are raised in greatly skews your world view; so do your parents.  This is not inherently right or wrong in an ethical sense per se but it can and for the most part does have ethical consequences.


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