Everything you believe is false.
Not a conspiracy theory.
Not the revival of some anti systemic website motto from 2005.
This post is more trivially an observation on how we perceive reality in a world that’s been dominated by mass communication for about a century.
The impact of this on how we perceive reality is a much bigger distortion than we’d be willing to admit.
While this can be a great boost for ambition, it’s probably not the best for self-esteem.
Since the rise of Radio first, and then tv and internet, each of us has extremely ease of access into the reality and daily life of a peculiar selection of people that is sometime portrayed as the One Percent, even though is more like the One per Million.
It’s like if everyone of us was forcefully befriended by hundreds of millionaires, actors, entrepreneurs and VIPs of sorts, and had a daily window into their life, where they went on holiday, what they wore while they had lunch with whom, and so forth.
It sometimes amounts to more than what you know about the everyday life of your real life friends!
Virtually everyone would know where Donald Trump lives and what he wears, but only you know where your neighbour lives and what he or she wore this morning.
In your personal terms, it means that you know where maybe 100 “real” people live and what they like to wear and eat, these are people that you have a real-life interaction with to some degree.
And then -depending on how much interested in VIPs lifes you are- you know where another 10, 20 or 100 people live, and what they usually wear and eat, except you don’t know these people, you just know about them like everyone else knows about them, because they are on magazines, tv shows, movies, news, social media, etc etc.
Even if this was a ration of 100 to 10 -which isn’t for most of us anyway- this would be an awful distortion of reality where you are faced daily with 10% of people living a dream life that doesn’t exist in reality for 99.999% of the people.
Even though we may think we obviously know very well all of this and we differentiate between real people that we interact with in real life and “virtual” VIPs, studies demonstrate things aren’t so well distinguished and rationalised in our subconscious mind.
While Social Media were in a unique position to rebalance things, at the moment they mostly showcase an augmented version of our best selves, rather than a realistic reportage.
This seems completely understandable and I mean no criticism, but the alignment to more traditional media in this respect, means our distorted perception of reality perpetrates through this new era and its tools.
A quick search on Google Scholar (a tremendous tool for finding scientific studies and resources, by the way) shows a plethora of studies aimed at demonstrating how media affect our perceived self.
Our perceived wealth, body image, our ambitions and fears are all shaped by what we are surrounded with, and what we perceive as alternatives.
Put bluntly, if you were to see a flying car on the market tomorrow, chances are you would desire to have one. Until that option isn’t on the table, you don’t really spend much time thinking of it tho.
Similarly, if you are presented with daily sneak peeks into what it’s like to live riding a white horse on a yacht while having caviar and champagne for breakfast in your silk robe, you may end up perceiving that your life isn’t satisfactory and that you may be missing on something. Without mass media, you never would have had a window into that person’s life, and lived a whole life without ever thinking that you could actually ride a horse on a yacht… why would you anyway?!
There is a phenomenon called third person effect, and it is what is now making you think that while this may all be true, fortunately you are not as affected by media communication like most people are.
How do I know you are thinking that? Studies suggest most people do!