Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

‘The map is not the territory’:

Be open to more ways than your own, including - and especially - when using social media.
By Bobbi Chegwyn
Date: March 17 2015
Tags: social media,
Editor Rating:

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the phrase ‘The Map is Not The Territory’ which I first heard eight years ago. I love this phrase. It creates the space for possibility, detachment, tolerance, respect, awareness and growth.

It’s a useful foundation phrase we can incorporate into a relationship with social media, if we desire the relationship to be long lasting, flexible, tolerant and emotionally stable.

'The map is not the territory' simply means that a map is but one interpretation of the terrain. It is not the terrain itself. This phrase was coined by scientist and philosopher Alfred Korzybski who saw that many people confuse perceptions of reality with reality itself.

We often see or perceive life for who we are, not what it is. We create our own ‘map of life’ according to who we are. Who we are is made up of a multitude of things personal to us such as our beliefs, culture, country, values, religion, environment, schooling, social circle, family influences etc. We not only receive information based on who we are, but filter it by way of deleting, distorting and generalising. We create our own maps, our own perception, our own version of reality.

But that is just one version.  

Just as you filter information based on who you are, so does the person next to you, by way of same factors.

Does that make us wrong? Not necessarily. Does it make us unique? Yes.

When we understand that we are all simply operating from our own filters and preferences, we have the opportunity to get out of the mindset of ‘my way’ into a more flexible human experience of ‘more ways’.

We have the choice to understand that what others share with us simply shows you their map and tells their story. It’s not always about you, but it’s always a reflection of their perception.

Almost three years ago I wrote on social media my most shared and popular quote): ‘Your perception of me is a reflection of you; my reaction to you is an awareness of me’.

When we understand perception we have the opportunity to transform from the need to be right, to the need to be respectful of what all makes us unique individuals, with sometimes opposing beliefs, thoughts, emotions, actions and outcomes.

I know it’s important for many of us to stand by and live our truth. But what is truth?   Your truth stems from a belief that you’ve held a long time. Those beliefs? Well, they came about from a thought that you repeatedly thought until it became that belief.

With the many and varied interpretations and perceptions of life itself, the world is made up of many and varied versions of truth.

Perhaps the only one, absolute truth is Love. Because even if your human form does not presently support this truth, I’m guessing your soul, as an extension of an omnipresent source energy, does.

I’m having a Facebook cleanse during the month of March for differing reasons - one being the often viewed judgement shown towards another person’s actions or reactions. I saw a lot of ‘I’m right, you’re wrong’. What a shame there is not more awareness that we are merely operating from who we are, as are they … and if we’re all operating from who we are, we’re often going to think we’re right, right?

The question is: if another person is merely different, can we have the flexibility to accept that someone else thinks their opinion or way is right too, because based on their own filters, they are … and just leave it at that?  Do we have to get ugly, get mean, become hurtful? 

There was a prime example of this in last week’s news online.The headline read: William Shatner has been dubbed 'Captain Jerk' for missing the funeral of his Star Trek co-star, Leonard Nimoy.

How freely we can pass judgement and a label such as ‘jerk’ when we decide our own ‘map’ is a true interpretation of the territory and the only interpretation of the territory. The only person who has a true interpretation of the territory is William Shatner himself. Based on his circumstances and preferences, he made a choice.  Does that make him wrong? Was he consciously wishing to harm someone? I’m going to guess no. Does that make him, simply him? Yes.

Like many, I’ve made my fair share of social media faux pas. However, this absence allows me to reflect on human behaviour 2015 style and endeavour to return in April as a better, smarter and stronger presence.

'The map is not the territory', it’s only one interpretation. Be open to more ways, not just your ways. React less, act more. Fear less, love more. 

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