Reality Essay: What is Reality?
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Reality Essay: What is Reality?
Reality Essay: Introduction
Reality is changing inevitably. What people called reality in the middle-ages is much different than the reality for people in the pre-industrialization era. Similarly, what people called reality before the internet is much different from our reality today. There is a quote from Heraclitus, which remains correct throughout time, and it says, “the only thing that does not change is the change itself”. Not so long before, no one was able to foresee that half of the people in the world would have online identities, whether it is fake or real. Similarly, this rate goes up as high as above 90% in developed areas, where internet connection is not a problem anytime.
Fake is the New Reality
Everyone on social media is miraculously just too happy. Too happy, right? The lives of people on the internet are so flawless and sparkling. However, is it real? Or how real are these perfect lives? People generally do not post their photos on their social media accounts while they are crying or struggling.
Being one of the products of digitalization, social media is in everyday life for billions today. Social media, at the same time, is one of the cornerstones of popular culture, along with consumption and individualization. Social media is not a venue where people display what they experience. It is a place where people post things in their lives that they would like other people to see. Therefore, social media creates a perception of reality, which is fake. Though, this is not a claim that calls the life, which everyone envies and follow, fake. Allen (1993) explains the concept of truth in his work as the information that is obtained, including both good and bad sides of a state or action. Therefore, one displaying only the good in his or her life on social media and hiding the bad is technically lying. There is not a need to show off using items that people do not possess in order for a social media account to be faking. Arfini et al. define online identity as the characterization of a person in a way that they would like it to be (2020). Having a fake life on social media has an effect on real life. This side effect is internal sadness, which leads to some other bigger issues that will be explained later in this essay.
Fake Life to Real Sadness
The examples of the perfect lives on social media accounts were given above. Let us open it up a bit and analyze it more in-depth. Influence is one of the main aspects of human nature. An artist uses another artist’s work as an influence for himself, a scientist bases new studies on a previously proven theory, and a person observes an action or a style in another’s life and copies it or improves his or her own style. There is even a concept we call a “role model”, which means copying or varying the life, achievements, or ideas of someone accomplished.
However, the role models of yesterday were way too different than the sources of influence of today. Remember Marie Curie, who influenced many young women into the world of science. Michael Jordan, the idol for another NBA superstar Kobe Bryant. Or Nikola Tesla, who influenced countless engineers to develop new gadgets. Now, having a look at the role models of today, the difference is obvious. 8 out of 10 accounts on any social media platform contains the tag “influencer” in it. Is it that easy to influence people today? Or since the population in the world has boosted excessively, so that humanity needs more and more icons to get influenced? Or are we all just faking? Leaving the cheap influencers on social media, let us have a look at the celebrities who people see as role model for themselves. Kim Kardashian, a barbie-doll woman whose all capabilities are fighting with her family members on TV and spending a tremendous amount of money on nonsense items. Justin Bieber, a male child singer with an ordinary voice, and now as he is an adult, he is able to pose half-naked. Elon Musk, an ordinary engineer who made a lot of money in an easy way thanks to his luck, and now acting as a genius. These examples of made-up role models are countless. However, the point is that these people are not worth being role models, as well as the people who own a million-follower social media account.
These sources of influence are another factor that brings the fake reality of popular culture into existence. Everyone could be Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber, or Elon Musk. It does not necessarily require talent or intelligence. However, at the same time, not everyone could be one of them since they do not have the advantage that those people had in the beginning, or they are not chosen to be figures of the popular culture. This means there are two types of inputs in the market of popular culture. These two inputs that popular culture consumes are the worshipped and the worshippers. 50 years from now, none of these figures or the ones who admire them, or even the platforms used today, will be remembered, just like a singing superstar of the time on a VHS cassette.
The concept of social media, the fake reality that it creates, and the figures it uses to create this fake reality have been introduced and explained up to this point. Lastly, let us have a look at the final outcome of these. As it was explained before, social media creates a fake reality where everyone is happy, and it creates role models that everyone loves and want to be similar to. As a result of these, people feel poor, helpless, alone, or unaccomplished as soon as they move their eyes away from the screen of their devices (Jurgenson, 2011). The final product of this setup is sadness. The aim of this popular culture marketing strategy is to make people more worthless so that they would follow their role models more and imitate them. As a result, the popular culture will be more popular and richer. People who lose their connection with the perception of reality of the world tend to start living in this fake, flawless, and sparkling life. Which leads to alienation. Maté (2020) defines alienation in his speech as the lack of ability of people in society to socially interact.
Reality Essay: Conclusion
The result of alienation is a strategy that is kind of similar to the divide and rule policy of offensive totalitarian leaders. People are pulled off the society one by one using a number of sources on the internet, and these sources we call social media are all very easy to control since every single platform is directed by a headquarters of its own. Singled out people start to drown in a whirlpool of fake reality and feeling of inadequacy. The alienation comes as the final step of all these processes. Today’s youth read less than half of the youth of the 80s and the 90s. The vast majority of young adults are interested neither in politics nor in economics, and these two determines the way they live their real, physical life. The social interaction of people in real life, such as on the street or a bar/café, is at the lowest level possible. No one has trust in another, and no one opens up with the fear of revealing their weaknesses. This is the overall result of popular culture and social media. This is pure alienation from society. This is the alienation of the whole society.
Allen, B. (1993). Truth in philosophy. Harvard University Press.
Arfini, S., Botta Parandera, L., Gazzaniga, C., Maggioni, N., & Tacchino, A. (2020). Online identity crisis identity issues in online communities. Minds and Machines. doi:10.1007/s11023-020-09542-7
Maté, G. (2020, February 7). How society makes you feel alienated – Gabor Maté. YouTube. Retrieved February 12, 2021, from https://youtube.com/watch?v=Hs39tNLQss8.
Jurgenson, N. (2011). Digital dualism versus augmented reality. The Society Pages, 24.
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