I recently watched the Matrix again and wrote 4 full pages of notes on it. If you pay attention, there’s a book that Neo picks up early in the movie called Simulacra and Simulation. It was written in the 80’s by french philosopher Jean Baudrillard, and it’s not only a perfect encapsulation of the Matrix, it’s also remained eerily accurate 40 years after its publication.
I’ll break the book down really fast.
Basically the main point of Jean’s book is that everything we perceive as reality is just a sign or symbol given to us by mass media and other outlets to help us understand our reality.
“What-a-what, Tom?” I hear you saying.
Take COVID-19, for example.
How many times did we see COVID-19 represented as a graph of deaths on our television, computer, or mobile phones? The graph was just a symbol telling us how our war against COVID-19 was going. It wasn’t real. The numbers might be correct, but it doesn’t get us closer to the reality of seeing someone with COVID-19 starving for air on a ventilator before dying.
In fact, it separates us from that reality so we don’t have to go through the uncomfortable experience of getting close to it.
You can use this same example with the war in Ukraine. For many of us, we know there’s a war in Ukraine, but our reality is one where we hear about it on social media every now and then.
For the people in Ukraine dealing with the war, their reality is much different. They’re seeing the destruction and death in real time.
Here’s the video version of this article, by the way: