The Matrix of Reality

There are real scientists studying the question of whether or not our world is real or we’re living in a giant computer simulation as in the film, The Matrix.  And there is more than one study out there to examine the fabric of our reality to discern a potential truth of our existence.

It seems a bit weird, but Plato was asking similar questions in ancient Greece.  I’ve always thought The Matrix was a tribute to Plato’s allegory of the cave in his classic The Republic.  Plato’s allegory doesn’t imagine computers trying to trick us, instead he considers we have insufficient information to form a proper view of reality.  In effect, we trick ourselves until we know better.

Two quick examples include an original perception of the earth being flat by some observers held true until empirical evidence proved the earth was round.  Another scientific misperception for a time was that the earth was the absolute center of the solar system, and the universe revolved around it.

We now have additional information to improve our collective perception of what is real versus what some folks original considered the truth.

Getting back to the original concept, let me help those studying the possibility of us living in a computer simulation.  It’s not The Matrix.

I would love to be able to wake up, climb out of my bubble and go to war against the machines or whomever is trying to control us.  It would be far more fascinating than trying to generate stories and fictions of my own.  Who wouldn’t want to be Neo playing Superman within the confines of a faux reality?  Flying around and being bulletproof is an adventure I’m willing to take.

Instead, our human existence of pain, suffering, disease and depression in between beautiful sunsets, trees, flowers, family and love is all the programming we are going to get.  It would be nice to get a do over and choose a red pill or blue pill and live a greater truth or a return to a more comfortable faux dream state.

To take it a step further, there is another school of thought going around that our world is indeed real, but that we allow governments and corporations to put us to sleep anyway.  A concept, fairly new to me, has been thrown at my face a few times now on the Internet called infantilization.

Basically, as defined the world at large as keeping us adults in a “dependent, infantile stage of development” in order to control us.  We’re collectively being dumbed down, tuned into silly movies, books and trapped in the it is all-going-to-be-okay like in Disneyland existence.

If you spend just a single day on social media, one can see the basis for such an argument.  Our rich, complex English language is being reduced to a series of monosyllabic letters and numbers and we are all going to LOL our life way.

U no 4 real.

I consider ‘infantilization’ is just as much of an oversimplification as the concept of living in a matrix.  It is another dodge or a shadow we cannot yet define in the corner of Plato’s cave.

Yes, education needs to be rebuilt and perhaps reimagined.  Yes, because we have more people on the planet than ever before, we have more poor people than ever before.  And more bad things happening and it seems as if there is little we can do to alter the course of humanity.

However, the ultimate reality appears to be that is we can do make a difference each day with a series of choices.  We can choose to be kind.  We can choose to help someone in need.  We can learn and improve our knowledge base.  And for kicks, we can choose to fully spell words out in a Tweet.

I jest a bit, but yet, we can be the better example if we choose it.  Bad things are still going to happen.  Depression and sadness will always be around the next corner, but we can decide how we react to each and every moment.

The easy answer is none of this is real. Or the other easy answer is that I’m being fooled into thinking everything is just great, so I should buy new shoes or forget to vote in an election.

I know what our world is.  I can spend every dollar I find on the poor, and I can’t fix poverty.  I can give all my food away and I’ll not be able to solve the horrific starvation problems near and far.  But I can donate to a food bank or buy a meal for a homeless veteran.  I can’t fix it all, but I can be a better me and help whenever possible.  It is a start.

The problem is reality isn’t very nice.  It is why it’s easy to consider this reality as a simulation or that I’m an infantilized, mind-controlled muppet doing the bidding of evil empires.  Those sound bad, yet, the real answers are far more frightening.

No wonder Stephen King does so well by telling us scary stories to distract us from the real horror of the daily toll we see in our real world.  And this is why I loved The Matrix, it looks like a lot more fun than here.

Thus, it is okay to read a book for escapism, or a silly television show so that we can unplug – not from The Matrix – but this harsh, cold, giant rock floating in space.  Fun is good.  Unreality is nice.  Taking a break from the truth of it all, as we currently understand it, is perfectly fine.

At this point, I could use a nice glass of wine and a Gilligan’s Island marathon.