Strange word. Distorted views of reality?
But – what is reality? My view or yours? Is something distorted because it doesn’t fit with the norm? And again, who is to say what is the norm?
Extract from my computer dictionary:
verb [ trans. ]
pull or twist out of shape : a grimace distorted her fine mouth | [as adj. ] ( distorted) his face was distorted with rage.
• [ intrans. ] become twisted out of shape : the pipe will distort as you bend it.
• figurative give a misleading or false account or impression of : many factors can distort the results | [as adj. ] ( distorted) his report gives a distorted view of the meeting.
The last definition there is the one that triggered off these musings.
In fact, it reminded me of a report I once wrote for peers/colleagues about improving our public relations within the organisation.
I knew exactly what they wanted to read, but that wasn’t what I wrote. I told them unless they were prepared to contribute to public relations, learn about presentation, identify good opportunities for PR, find out the details and the contacts – yup, you can feel them groaning and falling asleep already can’t you? – then any PR efforts would really be a waste of time.
My colleagues wanted to pin the responsibility for the PR of a large organisation onto one person so they could forget about it. It doesn’t work like that. Oh, and they wanted to tell them what to do, and how to do it.
I was the PR expert, but I was the lone voice. I was the minority (of one). Everyone else shared the same perspective – theirs was the majority view.
Which view is the norm there? Was my report distorted? Present it to a meeting of PR managers and my view would have been the norm. The prevailing view at the meeting of general managers would have been regarded as distorted if one lone general manager had voiced that view of how PR should be handled in front of a group of PR experts.
Another example. If you are reading this, you will know that I am vegetarian, feminist, left-wing, environmentalist, anti-consumerism, support animal rights including hunt sabs, anit-vivisection etc etc etc. That puts me in a fairly small minority group. Not the norm. But does that make my view – or my views – distorted?
I would say not. Obviously. At least I have made conscious decisions about all those topics, and informed myself sufficiently to take those decisions, and embrace those particular causes and beliefs.
What about the more literal meaning? To be twisted out of shape? You would describe a windblown tree as distorted when it grows at an angle, permanently gusted by strong winds from one direction. For that tree, in its own environment, that shape is natural. But we would describe it as distorted because most trees grow straight up.
See where I’m coming from? ‘Distorted’ is a judgmental word carrying negative implications that something has changed and is no longer what it should be, or figuratively, that it isn’t what is expected or wanted. To me, it places far too much emphasis on complying with the prevailing world view. Which, as we all know, is invariably wrong.
However, some light relief. For those of you who don’t know, ‘distorted’ is the WordPress photochallenge word of the week. Pix & Kards posted some fascinating images of distorted photos, link to the software is on her blog, and Vics Pics also posted some great photos using the same software.
Naturally being a) cantankerous and wanting to do something different and b) being lazy, I opted for using the Arcsoft programme that came with my Canon.
I always wondered why on earth they included these strange special effects but it was clearly for the one week in eternity when WordPress would use the word distorted for the photochallenge of the week.
Here’s the original photo that I chose to use, mainly for the contrast between the light purple and the dark foliage.
The first three shape changes make the flower look as though it is opening right out. The last two are the motion effects, where the shape is lost. And finally I did succomb to trying Amazing Circles after all, which gives a totally different effect.