Day by day, even hour by hour, the headlines become more surreal and the actions of our leaders become more incomprehensible. Who could have imagined that all the conspiracy theories of extraterrestrial mind-control and computer-generated mass-delusion would start to seem like the most reasonable explanations for where we are and how we got here.
The most recent administration scandal over the United States Central Command (CentCom) deleting military intelligence brings to a crescendo the chorus of claims of the White House stifling inconvenient truths about the Islamic State to avoid dealing with the real threat of terrorism. Last year, the Pentagon’s inspector general began investigating after CentCom analysts protested that their findings had been manipulated to whitewash their conclusions. Now it appears that files and emails were not only misrepresented but actually erased.
As a society, we have become increasingly disinterested in a pesky little problem once known as reality. Perhaps this is the inevitable result of fantasy movies and fantasy football, of virtual images and virtual messaging, of games that have become more compelling than reality, and of reality that has become more mind-bending than science fiction.
All this aided and abetted by the undo and reset buttons that instantaneously restore our make-believe worlds to perfection when things go wrong.
In our information age, we are less concerned with facts than ever. With a single click of the mouse, anyone can find legions of pundits asserting preconceived half-truths and countless articles defending outright falsehoods. We are all adrift on a sea of misinformation, carried along by the winds of self-validation.
If Laurence Fishburne appeared to offer us a choice between the red pill and the blue pill, which would we choose? Have we so lost our interest in reality that we would happily opt for a world of illusion, or are we still capable of recognizing that a life of illusion is no life at all?
But we really don’t need a pill at all.