As long as we create our own stories…

life is not a movieWe all like to think our lives should be special, that it should be like in a book, a movie or a fairytale. That’s fine alright, but things seem to go wrong when people realize their life is actually not a fairytale or a movie, and things seem to be to regular…in any case, not as special as we would like it to be, or moreover, we’ve come to expect it to be. It’s my life, I’m the one living it, and it’s gotta be damn special for it to be worth it, for God’s sake. The things we do have to be special, the feelings we must be special, our life should be like a movie, a fairytale or a book with outstanding thoughts, feelings and events.

You shouldn’t blame yourself though. You, and I for that matter, can’t help it. There’s thousands of stories, movies and series around us withal great stuff happening. People with hundreds of friends, loads of parties, romantic scenes, adventure. The thing is, all these stories appear to be actually possible in real life. Appear to be possible but not actually possible. Of course what people want to be entertained with are these great stories, nobody wants to see the daily life of an average person going back and forth to his work and the supermarket. But the events that take place on television are not real, neither could they be. Of course, we can have a high school party with loads of people, and there might occasionally be a pool party at a giant mansion, but not every day and especially not for people like you and me. People who are not extremely fortunate and rich, do not have the chance to give pool parties at their uncle´s place or have a couple of friends who own houses with pools.

If we look at modern American life, it seems that everyone is trying to turn their lives into a movie, or rather living their own story. We see people who are not satisfied with anything and everything has to be big, expensive, better. Now the sweet 16 phenomenon might have been existing for quite some time now, but when did it turn into a competition of who´s dad can afford the biggest car and who can be the bitchiest and feel the most special? It is as if fairytales and movies have become reality, or that people at least want this to be. The big castles, mansions, airplanes, sky castles that movies speak of, have become the people’s desire in reality.

People themselves can fantasize about things, how they want it to be and what they want to have, but only up to a certain point. In general, people always maintain a sense of reality and know what fantasy and what reality is. Sure, there will always be a story teller, the person who comes up with great things that speak to people’s imagination and gives them a new world to think about. People know that they cannot have palaces to live in, a thousand cars to have, shining in the garden, where horses run around freely. Maybe in the case of flying horses and sea castles, they would not start to believe that these things can becomes reality, even if you tell them that this could be reality long enough. But if you replace the unrealistic things in the stories with real things, things that could actually exist, if you directly speak to the people and their lives, they might just create a world in their head. Yes, a world that does not exist in the given composition, but with the same things that exist in the real world. The composition of it all doesn’t matter, it’s for the listener to decide whether it exists or not. And of course everyone wants to be princess in a giant palace, surrounded by gold and diamonds, everyone wants to be a prince or a warrior slaying dragons.

The concepts of stories, and the people, always stay the same, only the physical beings in the story change. If we translate the older material into the newer and we turn a non-existent world in an existent one, we have created a fairytale in the modern world. Leaving the concepts as they are, for this is another discussion whether they are realistic or not, we still want our fantasy world to be magnificent, glorious and sparkling, as that is what attracts people’s interest. Then we make a movie out of it. Naturally this movie is a huge success. So we make another one, and another, with slightly different concepts though, so it doesn’t get boring. Then we start making series. These series might be slightly closer to reality, but they’re still not actual reality, simply because the actual reality is not what draws people’s attention. Glamour, glitter, noise, big things, large amounts of people, that’s what draws people’s attention. So it’s only logical that series are made like this. At the same time people do want to see something that speaks to them. And what is it that speaks to them? Most of the time what speaks to people is something in which they recognize themselves, something with which they associate more or less directly to their own lives. So we have two completely understandable ingredients that together form something dangerous: a world that appears to be ours, but in fact is not. People want to recognize themselves and their lives and at the same time they want it to be bigger, ever so slightly, so that they won’t notice it’s not their own actual world.

So in the beginning there is one series, which is actually very much like reality. Then the next person thinks of another story, which is slightly different, but cannot be too different, because they have to stick to the popular concept of what most people want to see. But to not make it the same when they have run out of concepts, they have to make it slightly bigger, so it will be something new that attracts people’s attention. But the only things that can really be changed in quantity and size are the non-living physical objects. So everything becomes slightly larger, slightly more modern, maybe even bigger in quantity, or you place the content in a different scene. Not in a house, but in a school, for instance. A school allows for larger quantities of people and objects. But let’s not get into specific places too much now. The stories have to stay close to reality though, otherwise people won’t buy it, or they might find it lame because they are not into fantasy. As time progresses and the years go by, people are becoming used to ever greater and more luxurious things, bigger events, bigger places, in short, more wealth. Because new stories have been made up over time and the size and quantity of things have graduately been growing, people don’t realize how far from reality everything has come to be. Because of the graduate process, they don’t realize what the first stories looked like.

People get fed with these stories, day after day. As they are having their breakfast, they are having their soap opera or their high school series. As they drink water, they drink images of their own world, which is not actually their world. But they don’t realize this. It all started with a story in a normal life, which might as well have been theirs. In the second story everything was slightly bigger, but no matter, it’s just a story and it’s fun to watch, and it is hardly noticeable to the common eye, that is watching series as it’s preparing to go to bed, to work, or is having dinner. When the third line of stories begin, the people have forgotten what the first story really was like and they keep but a vague image of it. It was like their life though, which is something they won’t forget about. The second story was absolutely fascinating, such marvelous houses they were showing, and oh, the wealth of the people. When the third story begins, the previously second one has replaced the first one in being the first. Now the second movie is the first one people recall to be miraculous. And it looked so much like their own life. If only they could have the wealth, the money, the clothes! The third movie, though, is a bit of a fantasy, not quite realistic. The wealth and the parties these people had, and the things they did, and the romances they had. It would be beautiful to have all this and to experience it, but it’s all too far away, too high, they could never reach it, reality is just not like that. Or is it? Why wouldn’t it be? No, nonsense, it’s all just a film.

But then the fourth story comes out. It is absolutely stunning, something never seen, as brilliant and marvelous as the creator Himself. And people do not think about the possibility of living that story anymore: it’s just so amazing that they convince themselves it is possible. And if it were not possible, how could it be shown like that? The previous series were also a bit like that, weren’t they? That’s how people talk. They have forgotten about the first story, where everything was as it is in their own life, or about the second for that matter, where everything was just slightly bigger. They see the magnificence that is shown in the movie as if it were their own, as if it were their own lives, depicted by the movie. And here is another important element of the human mind, which creates a way of thinking that leads it further away from reality: wishful thinking. Like I said, who doesn’t want to be a princess on a flying horse or a king looking out over his land? There just has to be one slight modification: it has to fit into reality. Sure, a huge house with twenty pools and five thousand maids fits. It’s just not realistic. But that doesn’t matter anymore. Through the gradual process of the reality shift throughout the stories and wishful thinking people want the largest and most expensive things to be their reality. It’s what has been fed to them from the beginning, so there is nothing else.

There might even be some people who have it all. Yes, kings and princesses and giant castles and palaces do exist. This great wealth has been reserved to only a few fortunate ones though. But since the stories of which I have talked above have shown the common people that these riches can also be theirs, they start to think it is actually possible for them to have those riches too. After the fantasy stories and the modified-to-reality fantasy stories, the ‘reality show’ came into existence. Real people in a real setting. Whether they are acting or not is irrelevant. In many cases, the people displayed in these reality shows are of great wealth, dress fancy, have lots of stuff and can actually have giant pool parties at their places. As there are more and more of this kind of reality shows come up, the former wishful thinking of the common people has now reached a new level. It is not just a wishful thinking based on fantasy anymore, it has become a wishful thinking based on reality. Although it is still not their reality, it is someone’s reality, and that is enough to make people think they can have it too. With the argument: ‘if they can have all that, why can’t I? Who is to say I can’t?’

From this point there’s no turning back. He who wants it all, will never share. Or rather, he who wants more than he can get, will always try to get as much as possible and will not be willing to give anything away, share that is, as this will prevent him from getting more. This is the point where people become greedy. They might not be greedy yet, but when they feel they are actually able to get their own castle, they won’t stop taking until they get it. The irony is that it is most unlikely for everything they want to have to ever be in their range of getting, but they have the illusion they can. The idea that they can actually get their own castle has been given to them by the follow-up of all those stories they’ve been watching, from the first realistic family drama to the latest reality show. The idea that the sky is the limit has been printed in their minds. This idea has now begun to grow by itself, like a cancer, and cannot be stopped. And people will pursue this idea until they’re old and have finally found out that there is nothing more to get out there but life as it comes, normal, common, but not without meaning, or until they’re dead. Unfortunately the younger generations always seem to pick up the same big delusional ideas as their parents and grandparents did and don’t seem to be capable of letting these go, until they are old and grey themselves. This is how society turns into a great nest of greed and envy, envy towards those who have more, as everyone has gotten the idea that everything is for them to have.

If we look at this reasoning, it seems that modern greed in a certain way comes from not being in touch with reality. One could argue that the American dream is based on the idea described in the above and that it is one great illusion, shared by many. The American dream is that one can go from cleaning toilets to being world’s richest man by working hard. One is able to get from nothing to everything just by working hard. Obviously we’re talking about possessions, money. This idea is older than the television, so I won’t say that it has been created by reality-like stories, but it has been and is definitely being fed by them. What used to be words or just ideas people created for themselves has become pictures, movies, ideas created for them, merciless. What a normal man would never have been capable of thinking of, has been thought of by one with a large fantasy and has been put into the mind of every person out there, creating a total delusional picture of what one should be able to achieve. Now this is likely to create strong feelings of despair and of failure: if the ultimate goal is practically to get to heaven and this is basically pictured as the standard, how should anyone be able to feel the least bit of adequacy?

WRONG! If there’s one thing we’re not, it’s special. We think as if we’re the only person in the world and that we are the only person who has certain feelings. But come on. There’s a few billion people in the world, there have been trillions of people in the world and there will be ever more on the whole. Do you really think anything of what you do is special, that is, unique, there’s not so many people out there having done that? There’s thousands of people who do what you do right now, thousands of people having done what you’re doing and there will be thousands who will do what you’re doing. And not only in acts, especially in feelings and thoughts we like to think that they’re special. That our life is a fairytale and that to us that unique thing happens, that normally only happens in fairytales. But…see the irony? If we all like to think to us happens what happens in fairytales, nobody is special anymore.

The whole point of writing stories is because we want to create a special world with special events, feelings and thoughts. But why the heck would you wanna create a special world, write about it, if your own world is already so special? Well, you wouldn’t. It seems our lives are not quite fulfilling when it comes to specialness, and we resort to fictive worlds. And don’t get me wrong, I think that’s only praiseworthy, if you have the imagination you can come up with a fantasy world, but don’t think your actual life should be like that. Live your own story by living itit’s already darn special. MallienWho loves philosophy?As long as we create our own stories... We all like to think our lives should be special, that it should be like in a book, a movie or a fairytale. That’s fine alright, but things seem to go wrong when people realize their life is actually not a fairytale...Bezinning op het controversiële - Tijd voor een nuchtere beschouwing