Shadowlands: Are we in the Midst of Living in Plato’s Modern Cave?

Allen Ginsberg once said, “Whoever controls the media, the images, controls the culture.” Mr. Jim Morrison of the Doors mimicked this assertion by declaring, “Whoever controls the media, controls the mind.”

But is this true?  Are human beings that susceptible to mind manipulation that they’re actually becoming by-products of a fabricated world that they’ve ironically fabricated for themselves?

Since the beginnings of time, individuals have relied primarily on sight to form their beliefs on the material world. Maybe we see what’s really in front of us, or maybe we see what we want to see.  Either way, societies have adopted the belief that “seeing is believing."  However, at the foundation of ancient philosophy rests the Platonic claim that everything we see might be nothing but an extended illusion of existence—until we ascend from the shadowed lands and learn to wake up.  Plato saw the common man as a prisoner in a shadowed world of becoming and envisioned a cave capable of blinding individuals from the ontological reality of the universe.  He imagined a society incapable of distinguishing between reality and illusion, where individuals-imprisoned and lonely- sleepwalk through life with their cellophane compensations for reality.

These prisoners might just be us.

In today’s modern world, the media influences the way we live and our preconceived notions of identity. We’ve all become passive receivers of information and ideas, whether we realize it or not. The government and the media use images of projected reality and truth in order to influence and control. People exist and subsist as puppets playing the game and acting in a disheartened state of unconsciousness.

We’ve started to live in a society where false sources of material happiness triumph over knowledge, nature, truthfulness and virtue.  Television sets, computers, and smart phones have become the closest physical outlets of connection for human beings.  We are sold products that enhance, alter, and distort while the companies that sell them make money off our many insecurities and fears.  We’re living in a pill popping, Perez Hilton enthralled, MTV dependent, technologically induced society in which the media floods our minds and perceptual senses with images and thoughts that we simply can’t avoid.  A society in which Reality TV is actually considered entertainment…and sadder still…reality.  We’re at a turning point in history in which Reality TV shows no longer stand as symbols of reality, but rather of depressing virtual realities that are considered real.

During presidential elections, wars, and natural disasters the media projects information constantly.  These images fuel the way we think and the way we interact.  And not only do they influence and control us, but often times these images become us.  Furthermore, being normal is no longer satisfactory.  The media has placed heightened, unrealizable expectations of normality because of what we see on TV and in magazines.  We live in a society that preaches the marginalized extraordinary as normal.  These false expectations oftentimes cause individuals to lose their grasp on reality and their place in the world.

In a world so divided and weakened by political, social and climatic chaos, now is the time to stand up and begin to see the veracity of existence and live by the tenets of love, compassion and truth.  Now is the time to come together because, at the very foundation of everything, we are all human.  We need, now, more than ever, to seek truth through ourselves.  We need to wake up and realize that we’re the ones who’ve put ourselves in chains and it’s up to us to break free.

I’m talking about an internal revolution of sorts.  A revolution of mind, thought, and social interaction.  We might then begin to see things as they truly are, without the shadowed impositions of external factors.  We might then actually start feeling alive instead of merely being alive.

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