Doing all that is impossible unless people lose touch with the real. The wraparound nature of the media has made it so that the unreal never goes away. The unreal is so pervasive because it has so many outlets and we are all wired into one or more of them. If the unreal doesn’t get into your head one way, it will do it another way. The viral virus adapts because its designers are intelligent. And most of all they are persistent. They aren’t just malicious or in it for the money, though both those things are also true, they believe. They are missionaries and their goal is to convert you into fodder for their malicious money machine.
Reality hasn’t gone away, but we have gone away from it. Enough of us have gone down into the dream, grasped a thread of the story and allowed it to sweep us away. Given a choice between the red pill and the blue pill, they have unconsciously chosen the blue pill without ever being aware that they had a choice. And they are cushioned in this virtual world by a government that promises to take care of them and their children and their children’s children until the end of time.
It’s a lie, but knowing a lie for what it is requires either being able to do the math or have the common sense to know it for what it is. And common sense is derived from rough and tumble contact with reality. And reality has gotten harder to find these days. It requires unplugging all the belief channels, stepping out into the fresh air and trying to see what still remains when all the things that the belief trends told you to believe in have gone away.
There is a very specific category of people who are uncomfortable with the way things are and for the most people these are the people who have ongoing forcible contact with realities that don’t go away when the talking head begins jabbering, the memes begin spewing and the trending topics trend. These are the people who work for a living outside the bubble, who know that external safety nets are unreliable and that they are always on the edge of something… even if they don’t always know what.
It isn’t wealth that is the determinant. Many of the wealthy occupy a wholly unreal world. A world where things happen because they want them to. It’s what makes the technocracy of the last three administrations so seductive to powerful men and women who begin to think that they truly can move the world. It’s the edge that matters, the sharp sense of pain that reminds you that there is a sharp reality here that isn’t going away.
In a world where the fake seems real, the real seems fake. Obama seems more real than Romney and Ryan because he has mastered the art of the unreal. Television reality is not the same thing as reality, but it can seem more real, that is until you see how fake television makeup appears in real life. But there is no more real life in that sense. Not anymore.
Television is no longer a thing into which people step into and then step out of again. It no longer has that sense of being a passing moment where an appearance is insubstantial because it is temporary. Now television is permanent. It doesn’t turn off late at night, the eagle doesn’t fly above a painted backdrop while the anthem plays. It is everywhere because video is everywhere. Everything is being captured on video through the eyes of surveillance cameras, teenagers pointing cell phones at each other and men sitting in their room and declaiming at a webcam. The real and the fake have merged to spawn something that is real enough to be properly fake and fake enough to pass for real. It is a collective creative act, our final artform whose title is simply, “Life”, as envisioned by those who no longer know what life is.
Obama feels real because he has that same unreal quality, that sense of always being onstage, of an actor who is never out of character because he is always performing. It is an artificial reality that seems super-real, because like video it has that intensity and immediacy that exists to satiate the attention deficit disorder with a surfeit of stimulation. It seems real, only because we no longer know what real is.