Musings on Communication

“Rather, reality is brought into existence, is produced by communication- by, in short, the construction, apprehension, and utilization of symbolic forms.”[1] This quote in particular caught my attention this past week. I tend to get stuck on ideas like this for particular periods of time where these sorts of ideas just roll around in my head. The part of this quote that intrigues me most is not the part where communication is explained, but rather the notion that reality itself is in fact a construct of communication.

The more I think about this idea though, the more I start to see how reality can be a construct of communication. Particular if you adhere to the idea that communication is has two parts. 1. The information that is encoded by the sender. 2. The information that is decoded by the receiver. The information that the receiver decodes is then decoded with multiple factors in play, such as the receiver’s background knowledge of a situation, or their beliefs and values. And ultimately, the information adds to the receiver’s already existing knowledge and creates a new part of reality. Therefore, reality is constructed by communicating. It makes sense!

This seems like a pretty basic concept. New information creates new ways to look at the world and alters the perception of the world that one previously had. Yet, I’m still intrigued. The only reason I can come up with for my continued fascination is that it’s interesting to think that something so tiny or even insignificant as a piece of information can alter what one perceives as reality. It opens my mind up to a whole whirlwind of questions and thoughts.

One would think that the way people communicate would be a simple concept. Communication is something that we, as humans, do every single day and we do it almost unconsciously. Yet, there are numerous theories and concepts that discuss how we communicate. This one in particular just happened to catch my eye and stick.


[1] James Carey, “A cultural approach to communication,” in Communication as culture: Essays on media and society, (New York: Routledge), 13-36.

~Becky

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