If you are like me, you might have noticed that the world around us appears fake. It seems like everything is an advertisement for a counterfeit reality.
This is especially true for young people who have only grown up in this kind of reality; I remember a time before cell phones and even the internet.
We need to be able to see past the fake in order to live how we see fit.
Nothing on the news is real.
Any good story has a who, what, where, and when. But we get a clip of something much more expansive when we watch the news. When watching a report, the facts are only a tinny part of the overall story.
I remember ages ago; we used to watch this show, ‘the first 48 hours.’ Years later, my friend sent a link to a story about how that show was fake, and he said sorry for doubting me when I originally suggested it years earlier.
Anything that claims to be real is undoubtedly fake.
Nothing that is sold to us as news is a statement of fact. Instead, it is a usually narrative framed around some abstract reality. The news can’t be real because the platform does not allow it. TV is too fast for just the facts.
Having a general sense of what is happening around us is essential. I read the news from my country’s public broadcaster daily, which is better than most other sources. It is essentially propaganda, but it is better to read with that in mind than not reading anything.
Nothing on the internet is real.
There is this thing called the ‘dead internet theory.’ The idea is that nothing on the internet comes from real people; it’s all AI and bots writing everything we see. I know that theory isn’t correct because I, a human, wrote what you are reading.
But I have noticed on Reddit, especially the home page, that there are many seemingly artificial comments from new users who have way more karma than me.
You can find any truth you want in the comments on social media.
Maybe I’m just too cynical, but with all the time I’ve spent on the internet, it is appropriate to say that things have changed over the years. In high school, I had a classmate who hosted a message board; we all used to chat there anonymously.
Back then, there were fake users, but at least they were people I knew. These days I can’t tell the difference between fake and real users on the internet.
How many people do you need to trust to get to the truth?
The other day, my daughter told me ghosts were real because her friend’s cousin told her that she’d seen one. As adults, we probably don’t worry about ghosts, but how many ideas do we believe for equally unreliable reasons?
We have to rely on our senses if we want access to the most fundamental reality we can know. But if you think about it, if we limit ourselves to that way of thinking, we can’t say much about anything happening in the world outside of our tiny corners.
The more people you need to go through, the less real something becomes.
Have you ever heard of chain letters? They used to be a thing when I was a kid, you’d copy the letter and send it to more people, so it kept going on as long as people were willing to participate in the game.
That’s what’s going on with us and our knowledge; we only know the stories that people decide are suitable to share.
We have direct access to the world.
As I mentioned earlier, the only stuff we can know for sure is what we experience directly with our senses. There was a thunderstorm the other night, but that isn’t the same as learning a hurricane happened in the Caribbean last week.
It is true that if we only look at our senses, we can’t know very much, but that doesn’t mean we know nothing. There are so many things that we have learned through doing that we don’t even realize that we understand them.
Walking in the forest is different from knowing facts about the forest.
We can have experiences in the world, and we can build our knowledge. I was lucky to travel a lot as a teenager and again after graduating from university. Those experiences were memorable, and I did a lot of growing up during those years.
When we go out into the world, we increase our knowledge about the world that exists out there.
No one else can see the world that we see.
I was taking a walk in a forest today with my RC car. Driving it around was fun, with music playing in my headphones. That was me having an authentic experience, I took a picture, but that isn’t genuinely going to be able to capture the moment.
What we see is as unique to us as anything could be; it is our experience, it is our sense, and it is specifically personal. This isn’t to belittle how important we are to our understanding of the world, but it is necessary to realize how biased we are.
We are in trouble if indistinguishable VR becomes a thing.
No one can see what you do, so you can’t see what they see. It goes both ways and becomes frightening if you take it too far. Remember that you see things differently, and so does everyone else; that should be enough.
We share reality with everyone else, but we don’t see the same thing; we see something personal that is coloured by our experience.
It might seem real, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fake.
There is this YouTube channel where the host interviews people from skid row in LA. I watched an episode where a guy talked about falling in love with someone who wasn’t real. He explained that her whole personality was simply an act to get more money from him.
I think our reflection is an inevitable part of what we see in other people. And so, some things are as real as we allow them to be. We put a piece of ourselves in our experiences with the world but forget when we interpret what we see.
Many of our ideas are ideals in disguise.
What I’m trying to get at here is that even if something feels real, that doesn’t mean it is, but it also doesn’t mean it is a faker. Maybe our biggest problem is that we no longer know what fake even means.
No one can tell you what is true; that is up to you to decide. But at the same time, be cautious because you choose what is real.
Different starting points, different outcomes.
I’m always thrown back to an old way of thinking; we all get born with a different level of luck. You can’t deny that being born in Toronto, Canada is luckier than being born in the Favelas of Brazil.
Some people pretend that we are all created equal in our abilities, but that is not the case. Some people are born Olympic swimmers, while others are born to spend life in a wheelchair. It’s not fair, but we can’t change it; the best we can do is try to make it more tolerable.
Everyone gets a chance, but some people get more of an opportunity.
We all start in different places, so people know what to do immediately; others take decades to learn. Some are born with everything, while others are born with nothing. For this reason, we are all inevitably ensured different outcomes.
Does it matter that we all get something different? Of course, 100%, but the stage was set before we were even born.
Being real is about seeing through the BS.
Now that you’ve walked through my logic, you might be expecting a conclusion with a complicated answer. But that isn’t the case; we all need to learn to see through all the BS.
But you may ask, ‘how do you be real?’ I think of being here now, being in the moment and taking it all in. That probably can’t happen all the time; there are games that we must keep on playing.
We can’t say no to everything; there are evils we must live with.
The best we can do is try to recreate our own game in the spaces where it will fit. We can also be open to other ways of living; traveling is a great way to change our minds.
I feel this has gotten a little abstract, so consider all these points as different lenses to look at life through. They all play a role in influencing how we see the world, and so they are ways we can clear away some of the fakeness that is consuming our world.
You can’t expect everyone to see past the fake.
Have you noticed the world seems more fake than it did last year? Can you see through all the facades? Do you have a good BS detector? What do you do to be real in an ever-increasingly fake world?