Is the world we see online just an edited version of the real world in which we live, a Truman show of the entire earth? Perhaps a reviewer might say that this past season has certainly had a popular plot arch in Trump and the newcast of our ongoing show is building towards the environmental jeopardy of global warming.
The reviews are good, viewers just can't get enough! While all these events are ongoing most of us only ever see a version edited, mediated, through another person or in some cases an algorithm.
The Truman show
The Truman Show was released to cinemas in 1998 and depicted the life of Truman Burbank. A man who had spent his entire life completely unaware that he was the star of a TV show. His entire town was a set and everyone he knew were actors.
The drama of his life was the center of the show, a show which the rest of the world watched. Perhaps our daily lives as seen through social media have more in common with this fictional story than we’d like to think.
Motivation for mediation
The very way we hear of news and current events, both globally and locally, is changing. Is it to far a stretch to say our lives are turning into a reality show? As ironic as the question might sound perhaps it is a good analogy for the world painted for us where many companies compete for our attention. Just as days of recording is edited up into an hour long show, full of tension and drama, there are many platforms which profit from our attention, so why not bring us what most interests us?
This incentive to keep our attention is often related to advertising, although last years Cambridge Analytica scandal which painted Facebook in a particularly poor light demonstrates other means to profit from our continued focus on their platform. Needless to say it certainly appears to be Drama and tension from uncertain situations which will keep our attention, so why not favour such content and so drive the economy of clicks and users.
How do I react to this reality
How do we as individuals respond to this hyperreal landscape we live in, this Truman show of reality? While these issues are becoming deeper and more pervasive, I'm going to share two passages which I have found to help me understand how to respond, both of which suggest a level headed approach.
Jesus cautioned his disciples
In Matthew ch. 24 verses 3-8 Jesus cautions his disciples that there will be “...wars and rumors of wars.” and he goes on to caution them not to be alarmed or deceived by such claims but to wait patiently, ready for his return.
A note from Proverbs
A number of times in Proverbs, the reader is encouraged to remain calm and not jump to conclusions. For example in chapter 17 verse 27, we read “The intelligent person restrains his words, and one who keeps a cool head is a man of understanding.” I think this proverb suggest that becoming alarmed at something you thought you heard or read is not a wise reaction. Instead we should be patient and come to a reasoned understanding.
While we have access to so much information, it can often be presented in a very dramatic manner. This reality show of our world is designed to pull us into the drama. Yet in all this we still find in God’s word some wisdom to guide us. Therefore do not be pulled into the fear and uncertainty of the world presented to us through our online window. But instead remember the Sovereignty of Christ and his impending return.
Sam Gillespie is a composer, programmer and PhD candidate at the University of New South Wales.Sam Gillespie's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/sam-gillespie.html