Are Our Thoughts Our Own?

There is one world, one set for life, however there are billions of different internal worlds where separate theatres of thought play out, in which no one can ever have access to. And yet, we behave as if we are in the same audience, watching the same event we call life.

What we believe and think is influenced by so many factors (for instance, upbringing, popular culture, the society that you live in, politics) that society can never believe the same thing; everybody lives a different life and experiences different things. At the same time, our thoughts and opinions can never be organic as they have to have some context or origin in which they are created. We often think, that one of our freedoms is the freedom for independent thought. We take this for granted and do not question the source or the construction of thought, but merely assume that it is our own.

What we forget is that what we believe is almost always constructed by external factors, independent to ourselves, that are often invisible or well hidden. Nothing can ever really be objective. And even by critiquing narratives, a new subjective narrative is being created.

It is important to note that narratives that subtly manipulate our thoughts are very prevalent, and these constructed thoughts or opinions can be used for external political agendas. Some narratives are used for insincere means but if they are made more visible, we can try to avoid and alter them, and try to increase the organic nature of our minds.

By deconstructing what we believe, we can become more aware in questioning narratives.


Popular culture

In everyday culture framed narratives often appear in films. Many Hollywood blockbusters seem inconspicuous, with no political agenda. However, in fact, governmental organisations often create a sentiment that they want to be portrayed, in which viewers then automatically believe. For instance, many war films are created in a way that produces an enemy that the audience subconsciously takes as their own enemy, even if in reality, this isn’t the case. This can then by used by governments to exploit subconscious prejudices in society for their own means. For example, if a government wants to increase support for an action against another country, popular culture can be used to arouse a popular sentiment (even if it is incorrect), so that the government gains societal support to follow through with their agenda.


The echo chamber effect

Even if we believe we are being self-aware of what we are taking as truth, ideas are always reinforced, even if we don’t know it. The echo chamber is a metaphorical situation in which beliefs are amplified or reinforced by communication and repetition within a closed system- potentially as an unconscious exercise of confirmation bias. Therefore, even if we believe something so strong, this may be due to the fact we have subconsciously put ourselves in the situation where these beliefs will be reinforced by like-minded people. In the age of the internet, this is most common now on social media. And thus, even if we think our thoughts are organic, these are always underpinned by others around us.

To mediate on this is liberating, because it implies that what we are personally living inside our heads is not real, and instead we need to question the origins of our thoughts and the significance of where they are coming from and what they will be used for.