In this digital age, what is reality? We regularly conflate facts with feelings and opinions—whether out of laziness, deceitfulness, or ignorance. Social media is teeming with people self-righteously clinging to their beliefs and bludgeoning others with them. Because, as we continue to lose our grasp on reality, we often abandon consideration and civility with alarming alacrity. We stand on pedestals of privilege and throw criticisms at those whose circumstances are different. We quickly forget that no one can see (or know) it all—that every perspective is limited.
The truth is, we’re losing touch with reality. We were encouraged to learn, discern, and mature so that we’d be ready for “the real world,” but few things happen there these days. From shopping to socializing, we’ve opted in to living more and more of our lives virtually. We don’t give real compliments as often as we click “like.” We’re impressed by how many followers a person has the way we used to be awed by character, genius, or ability. We chase after counterfeit and contrived presentations of beauty.
And now that we’ve begun documenting our days for the mass consumption of others versus our own personal memories, even “sharing” has come to mean something altogether different. We offer highly curated versions of our lives—choosing the best, cutest, worst, or most silly—whatever best matches the brand of ourselves that we’re promoting.
Instead of having in-depth, eye-to-eye conversations—we DM or chat. And that’s not to say that all of this is make-believe, but it rarely goes very deep and often diverges from being honest enough to be completely real.
Fiction masquerading as fact is so common it has become unremarkable—though it sometimes goes viral. Just look at how unreal reality tv can be. Look at how often we let amateurs feed us the news or tell us what is newsworthy. So often we label something fake simply because we’d prefer it not to be true. But when it’s palatable, we’ll consistently accept falsehoods in lieu of the truth—peering into filtered versions of a life designed to influence us—mistaking selected parts for the whole—acting like an advertisement is good advice or comes from a trustworthy source.