Sightedness: What Can You See?

A friend invites you to a party on Saturday night. You get yourself ready and turn up at the appointed time, entering a brightly lit, resplendently decorated party hall filled with people chatting in small groups while an orchestra plays a selection of the best classical music.

As you enter the room, what do you observe? What do you see? I think that you see what you’ve been trained to see. For example:

– an optometrist notices the eyewear, who is wearing modern frames, the cheap and the exquisite.
– a doctor sees the health and wellbeing of those in attendance. Who is looking unwell? Who is walking with a limp, or nursing a broken arm?
– the musculoskeletal specialist takes in the various body shapes, and sees who is standing crooked or walking out of alignment.
– the clothing retailer notices the clothing, who has the latest fashions and who is still sporting last year’s (or last decade’s) clothing styles.
– the designer of watches notices what’s on people’s wrists, who is wearing his or her line, who has the most expensive watch in the room, which brands are currently in vogue, and who has the cheap versions.
– the dairy farmer sees who is pregnant, including those who are in the early stages and haven’t yet told others their news.
– the fitness enthusiast notices who is wearing a fitness tracker and which brands are in play. There’s the Fitbit group, the Apple Watch segment, and any of the others.

Selective perception. The reticular activating system. Learned behaviours. All these come together to guide what is seen by one and invisible to another.

What do you see? What have you been trained to see? What are you blind to?

Updates
– see Sightedness: The Lesson

4 thoughts on “Sightedness: What Can You See?

  1. Interesting … I’m a lawyer … but I’m also completely blind. So sightedness is a non-issue for me. What I hear and feel is more important I suppose.

  2. Yes, that’s a different way of thinking about it – thanks Jake. You “see” with your ears and feelings. I have heard it said that many people who are blind develop incredible abilities to pick up cues from the environment that people with sight miss.

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