Sometimes you have a confluence of thoughts coalesce in way that begs immediate attention, and now is one of those times. After watching Friday’s episode of Real Time with Bill Maher and the interaction with controversial guest, Milo Yiannopoulos, I couldn’t sleep. The provocateur provoked.
Everything post the election of Donald J. Trump feels like uncharted territory, and what I thought I knew contained vast holes of ignorance. In my world, the Milos, Ann Coulters, and Alex Jones’ were sordid, fringe figures, and yet what I failed to see was that they were signaling of a change in the culture. That’s the thing about getting older; the culture changes while you’re distracted in self-satisfied comfort of predictable outcomes. It never feels good to be out of touch.
For a man of my age (36), perhaps no piece of pop culture spoke to my still-forming personal identity than the 1999 film The Matrix. There are several cultural memes that my generation draws from this film’s enlightening philosophy to this day. First, the metaphor of “waking up” from a sedated conformity could be applied to almost any rudimentary societal norm from a working a boring job to the banality of tradition like church or marriage. Second, the image of Morpheus holding the blue and red pills I think speaks to us all when contemplating ideas of free will, fate, or encountering our most consequential crossroad moments. Third, and most relevant to this essay, is the concept that nothing about your reality is real. This line from Morpheus explaining The Matrix to Neo is something I think about constantly.
“What is real? How do you define ‘real’? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste, and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”