As conscious beings, we have the ability to integrate our experiences into mental representations, into frameworks and patterns that we combine together. We call the main combination, the one that integrates them all, “reality”.
At the core of these frameworks lies the smallest building unit: information. We get information from a variety of sources. We get physical information like light, temperature, noise. We get conceptual information, like language. We also ignore information that our sensors can’t perceive, like radio-activity (but we do experience the consequences of exposure to that information).
It is safe to say, then, that the quality and depth of our reality is based on the information we get. To a certain extent, our reality is the information that we have access to.
Happy that you’re still with me, because things are just about to get interesting.
Active And Passive Information
I call an information active if there is a certain amount of resources spent for that information. The fundamental resources for that is attention. On the other side, passive information is whatever happens to us, but we’re not actively aware of (and yet, just like the information our sensors can’t perceive, we do experience the consequences).
An active type of information would be this article, the fact that you’re spending attention right now to get it. A passive type of information would be the fact that you get old, second by second, regardless of the fact you’re not keenly aware of this (sorry for the reminder, but that’s just true).
On top of attention, there are other resources that we spend too, while gathering active information. We spend time, skills and money, among other things.
So, a significant part of our reality comes from the resources we spend in order to gather active information.
What You Spend Is What You Get
This introduction had only one goal: to make you aware of the fact that whatever you call “reality” is a direct consequence of your focus. Wherever you put your attention, you create reality.
As you know, during the last two decades, attention was commoditized. Meaning it can be predictably packaged and sold, as a merchandise. It happens via advertising, on all the media channels you are accessing: print, video, tv, online. That also means there are people incentivized to get your attention and resell it, because selling attention brings good money. It has happened consistently during the last two decades, but it became more obvious during the last one, with the rise of social media, which allows for more granular segmentation.
So, there we are: the basic tool we use to craft our reality is a merchandise. Which means our reality is shifting from our own awareness, outside, to other circles which are trained to get a hook on our attention. They are extremely well trained and sometimes they know you better than you know yourself.
If you still believe you exert total control on your attention, you’re delusional. The mere fact that you’re reading this is proof that you’re not. I managed to hijack your attention and to bring you this far, and I’m not even incentivized to resell it (there’s no advertising on this blog, and I don’t actively monetize it anymore). Imagine what would happen if people would be really incentivized to grab your attention.
Your reality is escaping you. There are already at least a couple of hours every day that you spend on various social media channels. That part of your reality is no longer under your control. You are hooked – and it is very difficult to escape the hook, because it uses techniques similar to the types of addiction drugs are creating (dopamine surges, among others).
You are getting the reality you want (and became to crave) only as long as you pay with your attention. You are on a subscription model. Should you stop payments, your reality will crumble.
If you think this is frightening, I have sadder news. There are other parts of reality that you already subscribed to, this time with hard money: it’s called tax, and it allows you to move freely in your own country. Should you stop payments, your current reality will stop working.
As we speak, other models are tested to, this type by paying with under-the-skin data. The so called “vaccine passports” (if, and when they will be completely implemented) will limit even more granularly your access to whatever you used to call reality, shaping a new one, with less interaction and less civil rights.
But even with these sadder news, there is hope (spoiler, there is always hope): if you manage to get back control to your attention, you should be able to slowly reprogram reality.
It’s just a question of mind training.