How would we know if we see exactly the same way other people do? After all, we can’t step momentarily into someone else’s brain.
One of those visual differences among people appears to be the existence of something called “visual snow.” The condition is a seemingly-normal vision variant that does not represent pathology and has no particular meaning—and is something that (to the best of my recollection) I’ve had my entire life. It is also my unverifiable hunch that most if not all people have at least a small degree of it, although some may have it more intensely than others. However, those who are aware of having it might be people who pay more attention to detail and are more observant about their bodies and sensitive to gradations of perception.
So I actually think that visual snow may be very common. Perhaps even normal. But at any rate, it’s “normal” for me. The phenomenon is also somewhat of a figure/ground thing where attention can be a big part of it.
Here’s a video purporting to show what visual snow is like. I’d say that this is what it’s like in the worst of circumstances; just ramp it down quite a bit and you’ve got the idea:
This commenter at YouTube describes my story pretty well:
I’ve had this my whole life. I remember trying to explain it to my mom as a small child “what are all the zillions of little spots mommy?” She looked at me like I was crazy, so I never really brought it up again, even though I was always conscious of it. It wasn’t till I was an adult that I realized some other people see like me as well. In my case it doesn’t bother me… but I do wonder what normal vision is like sometimes.
Actually, it wasn’t until I was middle-aged that I realized that everyone didn’t see like that—or at least, didn’t describe their vision that way.
NOTE: The title of this post comes from this song: