• Patrick McAndrew

Is Your Life A Simulation?

Preference for the Unreal

Is your life a simulation? At first thought you may argue, “No way, Jose! My life is REAL and AUTHENTIC and I am living my best self!” I hope that is the case, but for very many it’s not.

Joe Rogan recently interviewed Elon Musk on his podcast. They discussed a wide variety of topics, but one was how our lives are beginning to be shaped by what we see on Instagram. Rogan brings up that, while it’s evident that Instagram and social media has made us unhappier, he worries about what comes next. Musk states that it is very possible that we may live in a simulation.

I think it is very possible that humans will prefer to live in a simulation, an altered, virtual or augmented reality, an escape from the mundanity and imperfections of real life. While this may seem like a grim outlook on the future, there is a butt-load of evidence backing this. Never mind the countless amount of studies that have been published, just look around you! We humans are never bored anymore. We fill up this time of silence and solitude with endless consumption on our phones.

Phone Time All the Time

We don’t only do this when we are alone, however. We also take out our phones and make them our priority when we are out with friends or spending time with family. Answering a quick text message or needing to take an important call is excusable. Phone calls have been interrupting us for a long time now. But scrolling through Facebook or YouTube or Instagram while in the company of others? Surfing the web instead of having a conversation? This is the equivalent of saying, “My phone is more important to me than you are.”

Of course, we don’t want to be sensitive Sallys. Our society has made whipping out our smartphones in mid-conversation the norm, and with that comes a certain level of acceptance. We get very defensive if someone calls us out on being on our phones. We don’t like it when someone enters our technological bubble and intrudes, even if we are out in public. So many who would call someone out on their lack of courtesy retreat. Many of us even take out our own phones to avoid discomfort. And, hence, we have a group of people who are not fully engaged and present with each other, but in their own simulations.

We create online facades that project perfection. We crave the likes, the comments, and all the positive compliments that come our way when we post a refined version of ourselves. If Elon Musk, one of the biggest technology tycoons, can point out several flaws with social media, it’s no secret that these flaws are real.

The Comparison Trap

We get caught up in a comparison trap. And, as Theodore Roosevelt stated, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” We begin to want lives that are “better” than our own, comparing our lives to others that don’t really exist. With that said, we are comparing our lives to an augmented reality. And as technology continues to advance and advance, these lines between reality and the simulated are going to become more and more blurred.

My hope is that we wake up to the importance of real, genuine, human connection and relationships. If we are living through our phones and through the online universe, it will leave us feeling unfulfilled, unhappy, and empty. It is only when we learn to accept ourselves, be happy with who we are, and not let external circumstances change our perceptions of ourselves, that we will be able to live a full life without comparison.

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