Life Within Our Perceptual-Cognitive Bubble

by David Nova

“No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main”
– English poet, John Donne (1572-1631)

There’s an old saying, that “No man (or woman) is an island entire of itself.”

The quote and the larger poem by Donne explores the interconnectedness of humanity and our social responsibility to one another, largely from a Christian perspective. 

In this modern era of the internet, social media, and technological interconnection, the quote seems even more relevant today.  Very few individuals disconnect from the trappings of our modern culture to live an independent, self-sustainable, off-the-grid life, an island entire of itself.

The neo-liberal humanist agendas of collectivism and social justice seem tailor made to push new narratives of interconnection and social responsibility, after historically appropriating these themes from what was traditionally the realm of Christian social reform.

Why then, in this miracle age of internet, inter-connectiveness, and social media, do people generally feel more isolated, more alone, and even more depressed? 

While the sentiment, “No man is an island,” sounds like heart-centered wisdom, while it reflects the larger spiritual cosmology that we are all intangibly interconnected, that we are all holographic aspects of a singular spiritual source of consciousness, within this physical 3D human experience I find that this is not entirely true.

Rather, each and every one of us actually exists within a perceptual-cognitive bubble. (Though some of us have bubbles that are a little more permeable than others.) While this bubble may be a function or result of our individualized ego, it may also be a consequence of the state of spiritual blindness in which we exist in this world.

The internet is serving to amplify this existential phenomenon for us to examine.

We perceive that each one of us is a single consciousness residing in a body and a brain. Actually, we are more like captive guests (I am reluctant to use the term ‘prisoner’) because generally, with some exceptions, we do not possess the natural conscious ability to come and go from our body/brain as we wish. Our dreams being one universal exception, and the practice of Meditation and Remote Viewing being other specific exceptions.

Unless we’ve developed 6th sense spiritual gifts, we are extremely limited in our perceptions. We basically exist within a black box with a few narrow sensory inputs (sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch). These sensory inputs are not in-fact real data of a tangible external world. At best they can be described as a translation of a vibration or waveform, based upon our own cognitive beliefs, expectations, and understanding. Thus our personal perception of our outside reality is entirely cognitive-based, “The mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.”

And while the above is a hard-to-conceptualize esoteric understanding of the existence of our individual bubbles, there’s plenty of relatable, psychological evidence to demonstrate the phenomenon.

Here is a simple test you can perform in any social situation with a stranger or an acquaintance, rather than a loved one you live with. Observe yourself telling another person a story, something that happened to you, something about yourself, something you did, something you heard about – just normal conversation material. Then closely observe the person’s response.  Do they subconsciously attempt to relate or connect your story or subject to themselves in any way? Does your story trigger some personal experience or opinion in the listener? Does the listener respond with their own related story which now revolves around them, their opinion, or their own experience? 

Now observe the reverse situation. Observe yourself listening to a conversation. Observe how you respond. Observe if you made any subconscious attempt to turn someone else’s story into a story about yourself? 

The point of this exercise is not to expose our latent narcissism. This is perfectly natural human behavior. We all do this in nearly every casual conversation or personal interaction, whether it’s conversation or text on a computer screen. We tend to relate to other people when we have a point of reference that we can use to understand and conceptualize their experience. We are translating the information or experience from their bubble into our own bubble, making it relevant to us.

This is how human beings generally relate to one another. Our personal understanding of the world is entirely colored by our own personal experiences, beliefs, opinions, passions, and fears. We only see the world through the goggles of our own multicolored bubble. We assume everyone else does or should think the same way we do. We subconsciously act as if our personal experience takes precedent over another’s.  We run into interpersonal problems when these assumptions are naturally challenged. We have not adequately developed the skill of empathy needed to break through our own bubble to perceive another in their bubble.

Society works pretty smoothly when the participants posses similar, like-minded perceptual-cognitive bubbles. However, when our bubbles are of different religious, social, or political orientation, we see friction emerge and our natural civility starts to break down. We see the other as an “adversary” whom we cannot fathom or understand, because we are unable, or more likely unwilling, to penetrate an understanding of their bubble, because their bubble of beliefs is somehow threatening to our bubble of beliefs, even though both participants are both human beings with some fundamentally similar life experiences.

Recent studies have demonstrated this phenomenon at work. 

A study by researchers at Wellesley College and the University of Kansas found that our desire for ‘like-minded others’ is hard-wired in us.

The concept of ‘Confirmation Bias’ states that we are prone to believe what we want to believe, and we only consider the evidence that supports our wanted belief, a form of psychological cherry picking.

We see the world through our own lens, and rarely do we see more than our mind will allow us to see. This self-limiting lens would explain why some individuals are open to radical ideas, such as UFOs and extraterrestrial visitation, while others will dismiss any radical topic out of hand, as well as any evidence that may support it. Both sides may be suffering from a form of Confirmation Bias, coloring their objectivity and their perception. 

A tale that likely originated from the notes of Joseph Banks, a botanist on Captain James Cook’s 1770 voyage, told that when the explorers sailed to Australia, the native people could not see their tall ship because it was too alien to their own experience. Only when the explorers rowed ashore in longboats were they finally noticed. 

Whether this tale is true or not, we see enough evidence of Confirmation Bias at work in our own society to recognize the phenomenon, which has its roots within our own individual and collective perceptual-cognitive bubbles.

Throughout history, our bubbles have been employed to enslave us and keep us divided, by a political system that cynically manipulates a duality mindset, by elites who engineer our religious and social beliefs, by our parents who pass on their own limiting beliefs, but also by ourselves, because it is easier to accept and ignore our personal “inbubblement” than it is to question its existence.


I think the additional point that I forgot to add, and maybe it requires a separate post, is that we cannot simply rely upon our limitied physical 3D senses and perceptions to know truth. Truth needs to be perceived within, through our heart and spirit, and that the way to truly connect with others is not with our outer perceptions, but also from our heart and spirit.

About the Author

David Nova is the author of the metaphysical fiction series “Season of the Serpent.”  He is a truth-seeker, a Wanderer, a blogger, and was the moderator of Deus Nexus: Messages For An Entangled Universe.

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.


  1. Wow!
    You say, we only consider the evidence that supports our wanted belief …
    This blog is proof of the opposite.



    1. I am writing in generalities about the human condition. Is it not true that the vast majority of the world seems to operate in this way? While those who are more spiritually awakened have opened themselves up to seeking truth, from their inner perception, from the heart, from intuition, from clear-eyed reason. Only a very small number of people will visit a site like this. Should I spell that out in my post? Or do you think my readers are capable of making the distinction?

      (I’m actually very curious to get the feedback, because I think this exchange is actually an interesting example of what I am talking about.)

      Liked by 1 person


  2. Exactly. You are right, a very small number of people would act from the heart. They may say they do, they may believe this is the proper way, they may even meditate each day, but they get bogged down in their problems and they would not hesitate to lash out at anyone who “violates” their comfort zone … Your readers should make the distinction – or why else would they come here?
    This is a good article. You have a logical mind; I know I don’t, I seem to stare at a smaller perimeter failing to see the big picture. Well, as you know, women are from Venus, men are from Mars. But the joke aside, I love reading your insights, they make my picture bigger. Thank you.



    1. Thanks for the feedback. It actually helps me break out of the bubble of assumptions I might have as a writer, to become a better communicator. What is really interesting is that while I was writing this I had the inkling of an intuition that women might have a harder time with this post. And yet I choose to ignore this intuition. Typical male, LOL 😉 So perhaps I really need to learn to access my feminine side when I write. I think the additional point that I forgot to add, and maybe it requires a separate post, is that we cannot simply rely upon our limitied physical 3D senses and perceptons to know truth. Truth needs to be perceived within, through our heart and spirit, and that the way to truly connect with others is not with our outer perceptions, but also from our heart and spirit.

      Liked by 1 person


      1. As a side note, I usually rely on my intuition when I write. For example, sometimes I’ll write a questionable sentence and a little silence voice inside will point out that it doesn’t sound correct, or that the information is wrong, or that it could be written in a better, more compassionate way. I know this to be a spirit guide or my higher self talking, so I’ll either delete or rewrite the questionable sentence. But there are also times when I’ll be stuborn about a topic and just ignore them. And that’s when I usually get in trouble, when my ego shows up.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Ha! The ego is a separate, enormous topic 🙂
    P.S. I humbly ask you to excuse my English, for I am not a native English speaker and I might be misunderstood sometimes … Although I don’t think I have been so far.



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