This didn’t take long did it? Well friends, I come to you today to share with you something that was impressed upon me by one of my professors. The class is small group and interpersonal communication, or COMM 2110. In this, the second day of class, the professor shares with us a story about his life. At the age of five, his father pulled him aside and asked him what he wanted to do with his life. He was given three options: medical doctor, attorney, or business owner. After quickly ruling out medical doctor and attorney by age ten, his life was decided: he would be a business owner. As a ten year old child, he was tasked with running concession stands at baseball parks his father managed. Not just as a cashier, but he hired people, fired people, did taxes, did inventory, everything a business owner had to do and only ten years old (can we just have a moment of silence for those poor souls fired by a ten year old boy?). He went on to own several businesses with his father until at the age of 21, he came to a communication class that enlightened him. He had entered school planning on being a business major, but after just a few classes he wanted to change to a communication major. His father was furious and cut him off financially and promised never to run another business with him again. Well he used this communication major to better himself in the business world and even managed to sell everything and retire at 40. Now, he teaches communication in the hopes that he’ll have an effect on just a handful of students the way his professor influenced him. I’m not counting my chickens just yet, but there’s a hell of a lot of eggs in this basket.
My professor wrote this on the board and asked us all to discuss it: “Communication is the game of the gods.” To start, we focused on the word “gods.” Strictly speaking, using this term doesn’t refer to any one specific god and doesn’t have anything to do with religion (though a lot of it is applicable to theology), but simply what a god is. I can’t recall everything that was said in the class, but the professor asked us to think about what that meant to us. “Gods” are higher beings in a nutshell. They wield tremendous power and influence and in most cases are creators and/or destroyers. Gods create people, land forms, animals, plants, life of all kinds; everything we see around us was created by the gods.
We then focused on the word “game.” Different students brought up ideas about rules. Every game has set rules, otherwise it’s no longer that specific game. Change the rules and you change the game. Games involve competition and therefore a winner and a loser. I know you can play a game “just for fun,” but every single game I can think of has a winner and a loser and pits one individual, or team, against another. I couldn’t stop thinking about games that didn’t have competition, but I couldn’t come up with any. Competition, like it or not, is usually what makes a game fun. How fun would football be if there was just one team that stampeded across the field back and forth for an hour? What if you played Mario Kart but there were no other racers? And this is kind of a part of competition, but a game is played with two or more entities, even if it’s a computer or time.
And finally, we hinted at communication. Communication is what my professor called “the science of the between.” Communication can look at so many different things and how they’re interpreted by another, which involves some kind of transfer of information, which is inherently going between two things. He said a lot of stuff I loved hearing (including how words are incredibly powerful because they can shape how others perceive the world and relay information and form ideas), but I thought this was a highlight: “You can’t not communicate.” Everything you ever do communicates something. Silence communicates information, what you wear communicates information, and so does the music you listen to, the car you drive, and the food you eat. No matter how subtle or seemingly unimportant, everything is communication.
None of this seems completely mind boggling, but when he wrapped it all together it made me really start to ponder everything. “Communication is the game of the gods,” and suddenly it all starts to make sense. In essence, we’re the gods of our own reality. I know this might sound like it goes against everything I’ve said I believe in, but just hear me out. Humans are gods if you view “gods” as an entity that creates and destroys and holds power over the world. It reminds me now of a quote in Jurassic World: “Monster is a relative term. To a canary, a cat is a monster. We‘re just used to being the cat.” We are all creators of our own world. Don’t believe me? Two people can look at a person and see two different things. Some people see Obama as a champion of the lower class and minorities while others see him as a gun hating communist who destroyed the country. One person can walk through the snow and describe it as a winter wonderland while another could call is a white, frozen hell. To me Carrie Underwood is the patron saint of music, to others she’s a screaming banshee (though those people are wrong, no exceptions). I could go on and on. If you think of the world like that, we literally create people. We create our own interpretations of different people, places, music, foods and so on. It’s an intriguing idea to consider that there are a thousand different versions of me out in the world in other people’s worlds based on different interpretations. Of course, there’s only one me, but at the same time my mom views me differently from my friends, who view me differently from my professors. In a sense, I exist completely outside of myself in the mind of someone else and the same goes for all of you.
I don’t want this to confuse you all though. I still believe in an objective truth. What I just described is almost completely subjective reality and beckons back to the dumb question, “If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Well of course I can’t prove that it does and I can’t prove objective truth either because I’m completely limited by my own biases, as is every other person out there. I believe, and this just makes simple sense to me, that whether I’m here or not, everything continues to exist. I can’t see into the middle of Antarctica where nobody lives and is around to perceive it, but I don’t think that because nobody is perceiving it that it doesn’t exist. When my roommate and I leave the room and nobody is in it, it doesn’t evaporate into nothingness. I can’t prove that of course, but to me that’s just common sense. I still believe that there is objective truth that is the skeleton of our reality because I don’t think a subjective reality could possibly exist. In a completely subjective reality, every notion would be completely up in the air. I could call myself the President of the United States and it would be true because it’s true to me. Then I could make the United States all of the planet. I’d be able to walk into a grocery store and take food because it belongs to me because I think it does. What happens when two people think differently? We restrict complete subjectivity and add some objectivity into the mix. Rules are an example of objectivity. Did the soccer ball cross the line that was drawn? Yes? Well there’s a goal. Stealing, in most cases, is seen as wrong. Our world walks a line between subjective and objective. If it were completely objective, we’d all be clones of one another essentially. It needs both and I think they can work together and coexist even if it might sound like a paradox. To put this into a Christian perspective, God gave man free will to choose wrong. God has an objective standard of right and wrong, but he introduced subjectivity into the world by allowing man to choose whether he wanted to listen or not and decide his own fate and shape his own reality.
On the subject of God, let’s just look back at how humans are gods of their own reality. This is just food for thought and I don’t necessarily believe it, but it’s very interesting to consider. If different people exist within our own consciousness, then they’re more or less existing right? I do believe that my friends aren’t only limited to being inside my head, but a certain version of them kind of does. I can’t really wrap my head around all the nuances of this thought, but I was wondering if maybe we’re all existing within the consciousness of God? I don’t know all of what that idea describes, but it kind of mixes religion (or in my case Christianity) with Inception kind of or maybe even The Matrix from what I understand of it. My friends exist within my mind, so what if the world inside my mind has it’s own conscience and my friend Jane Doe inside my mind has her own conscience? What if the changes we experience as humans is actually some higher being’s perception of another being changing? I don’t like sea food, and what if the reason for that is because I’m a version of something else that “God” doesn’t know my other version likes it? Like what if in the higher level of consciousness, I’m being perceived as not like sea food (or the prime being doesn’t know the fact one way or another) and that’s the reason I don’t like sea food? Or for another example, I don’t know whether or not Jane Doe likes to read, so the version of Jane Doe in my head doesn’t like it. But then I learn that Jane Doe does like it and my perception of her changes just slightly, but mental Jane Doe simply attributes it to “growing to like reading.” This puts the Bible into a weird place because the Bible is believed by Christians to be the direct link to God or God’s voice or whatever. What if, like the idea of inception (putting an idea deep into someone’s mind so they think it’s their own and it kind of becomes reality), the Bible is simple God performing inception in a way? What if God came to realize that we were living and existing or whatever and he willfully sent the Bible as “the inception?” If this were true, I could send a “Bible” to the world within my mind and the people within it could pick it up and debate whether it was true and there would be arguments and fights over it and to some I was “God” and to others I couldn’t possibly exist? Tell me all of that doesn’t just wrack your brain and hurt it.
All of that philosophy and nonsense came out of one simple lecture from my professor on day two. I didn’t even mention the novel idea I came up with while in that class or any of the preview content the professor said we’d learn about. It boggles my mind to think about and I hope it boggled yours as well. If you can’t tell, I’m very excited for this class. I think it’ll be a very informative and amazing class. I am considering minoring in it anyway, so that’s a good sign! I have a bunch of other classes that will be fun as well that I’ll get to write about in the future (like creative writing and nature of sex). Overall, I think this’ll be a great semester. Thanks for playing the game with me, but for now, game over.