14
Sep
07

The Artificiality of Reality

How does artificiality and simulation affect the way we perceive reality, and also the ways in which we escape from it?

A subject that I am interested in researching is the prevalence of artificiality and simulation in modern society, and how this influences our perception of what is ‘real’ and also how it affects the ways in which we escape from it.

Artificiality and simulation have become such a part of our contemporary lives that we now accept it as part of our reality.  Modern society is dominated by the mass media, and through this our perceptions of what is ‘real’ have been drastically redefined.

One aspect of society that has been redefined by the mass media is the world of fame.  The phenomenon of fame is something that has changed considerably thorough out the ages.  In times of war the famous were either heroes who saved their people, or spiritual leaders who offered salvation to the soul. In times of discovery the famous were explorers and inventors.  In the media age the famous are simply those who are most familiar to the worldwide media audience.  People are happy to substitute reality for fantasy.  The actors of the movie industry play the real heroes of history.  Media reality substitutes for actual reality.

Another reason for the survival of famous for being famous is the observations of media analysts.  As people spend more time absorbing the same media content, they will use this content as the subject of their conversations since it will be the most obvious area of mutual convergence, replacing what was previously a greater variety of conversation around subjects and topics more directly related to ‘reality’.

The modern mass media can affect our perception of reality yet it can also offer us a release from it.  This can seen in escapist activities that offers a simulated alternative to reality.  For example, films and television shows, computer games and the perpetual rise of the Internet.  There is an evolving relationship between escapism and this industry, where they simulate our dissatisfaction with life through advertising, but never offer a solution as a product.  They aim to generate needs that have to be repetitively satisfied.

Will the future be utopia or dystopia – a dream leisure society or a technological    madhouse? Can humans cope with such artificiality in their lives, or will they become aggressive, maladjusted simulation sick and unable to communicate with each other in the real world?

Will the increasing power of the mass media unify human society, or will it transform it so essential differences are smoothed over and essential truths are played down?

Will we be able to dominate our new technology, or will it dominate us? How does our media world reflect our search for social reality?

Maybe there is something in the artificiality of society that we distrust, from the concept of a virtual existence to the pre-packaged, uniformly sized vegetables that appear on the shelves of our supermarkets.  Maybe we have, as Kant described, a sense of ‘moral duty’, whereby our duty in life should precede all pleasure activities, potentially forcing us to engage with society for longer periods of time, and indulge less in activities that are ‘undutiful’, or maybe our new found artificiality allows us to be more hedonistic and ego-driven so we spend more time away from our perceived realities to escape the struggle to satisfy basic needs and the stress that causes.  

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1 Response to “The Artificiality of Reality”


  1. October 3, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    The problem is in our brain functioning: the right hemisphere is visual and nonlinear, the left hemisphere is verbal and linear. This topic is explain very well in two books that I know:
    -The Master and His Emissary by Iain McGilchrist, published in 2009 by Yale Press,
    -Solovki’s Ersatz published by Authorhouse in 2015.
    You will see in these books how our brain has altered the reality, constructing our world as it is.
    I would say: our worldview is linear, while the natural reality is nonlinear; is our worldview correct?


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