Black, White, and Grey

People who know me well know that I like rules. More specifically, I like very clearly defined rules. I like clarity. I do not like ambiguity. I take comfort in thinking that I know things; there are few things that drive anxiety as much as being unsure about something.

Often people tell me that I shouldn’t think like that. The world doesn’t exist in black and white. Reality is a greyscale.

But I don’t know that I completely agree with that. I don’t think that reality is a greyscale. I think reality just is. The colours we see in it, the labels we apply to it, these are not reality. These reflect how we experience, interpret, and attempt to understand reality.

Seeing the world in black and white is just this same behaviour, in principle. The words used to convey our minds’ abstractions may differ. The decisions we make on which words to use may differ, or even which questions we ask in deciding on words. But it’s all just our own individualization of reality.

The possible benefit of seeing things in black and white, in my opinion, is consistency. It allows one to relate experience and response in a way similar to a mathematical function: an identical set of experiences will merit the same response. This allows me the predictability, clarity, and comfort I seek.

Some of the struggles with this approach include situation comparisons and communication. It can be difficult equating two different situations as there is a lot of input to be parsed, and a lot of input isn’t immediately obvious to be input. One has to be careful not two equate to scenarios which have very different input sets, even though it may not be at first apparent. Communication can also be an issue as people may not take the same approach, or even if they do, they may not evaluate the input the same way, or match that input set with the same response. Clearly communicating your inputs and decision making process can be difficult, but it’s crucial for getting everyone onto the same page.

I don’t think it is accurate to say the world exists in black, white, or grey. I think there’s arguments that can be made for taking a black and white, greyscale, or other approach of interfacing with reality, but for me, I find taking a black and white approach to be the best choice for me.

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