Archive for January, 2012

Create Your Own Reality With Google!

January 24, 2012
Image DetailSee, it was like this.  I was thinking about heading up to nearby (relatively-speaking) Boulder, Colorado this summer to attend a writing course at Naropa University.  Now, Naropa and I go way back; I spent some happy time there several years ago, and always admired the place.  You have to love a college that once had “Beatniks” like Alan Ginsberg, William Burroughs, and Gregory Corso on staff!  Naropa has had their struggles over the years — it’s not easy being round in a square world — but I have a lot of respect for the place.

Anyway, this piece isn’t about Naropa, it’s about how the internet can easily shape our opinions, substituting a kind of “virtual reality” for the actual reality of on-the-ground personal experience.

I did an internet search for Naropa on Google, using “Naropa University” as the search phrase.  I got lots of hits, many of which directed me to the Naropa Website itself, along with other links to websites discussing Naropa, all positive reviews and discussions and remembrances of the school, its faculty and staff, and the positive experiences people had had there.  These positive experiences, indeed, reflected my own.

Then, on a whim, I added the word “Scam” to the search phrase, making it “Naropa University Scam.”  This was by way of being an experiment.  Suddenly, I was launched into an entirely different reality — a parallel information universe, you could say.  There was link after link, page after page, of highly-negative discussions of Naropa, people complaining that the place was corrupt, a rip-off, a scam, a travesty, calling for its closure, saying that it was an absolute waste of money — painting the place in the darkest possible terms, and attempting to righteously “warn” others to stay a million miles away from it.

Hey, is Naropa a “good” school, or not?  Well, if you believe everything (or I could say “anything”) you read on the internet, it depends entirely on how you approach the problem.  It’s like that famous quantum physics conundrum — you can’t study an object without affecting the behavior and characteristics of that object.  You can never know how the thing would behave if you weren’t watching it!

In this case, I don’t suppose you really “affect” Naropa by researching it on the internet.  But you can definitely affect your OWN views and opinions of the school, depending on how you phrase (and pursue, and execute) your online internet search request/process.

In this scenario, my own advice would be to simply attend a class at the school, maybe take a tour, talk to a few people, and see what you think.  Imagine that!  But I propose that you can’t learn a damn thing about what might be called “The Truth” or “The Reality” of Naropa University by sitting in front of a computer screen!

And that, from a bone fide Computer Guru!

Now, perhaps this scenario extends to other areas of knowledge and experience, as well?