You won’t get a five point listicle because I lied. Truth is however, we might just learn to deal with dishonesty at the end of this.

Earlier this year it was found that there were some inaccuracies in the US Government’s recantation of the Bin Laden raid. Veteran journalist, Seymour Hersh, found that Bin Laden may have not been in hiding but in fact captured by Pakistani intelligence officials and kept prisoner until the US security forces could stage the raid. The killing resulted in the hit book turned movie Zero Dark Thirty; it was a compelling narrative.

Turns out it isn’t uncommon for politicians to fake danger for the sake of building a compelling story. George HW Bush had a public announcement making the nation aware of the threat of drugs to society by exhibiting a bag of meth that was confiscated in a drug bust near the White House. It later turned out the executive had requested officials to purposefully arrange the drug deal outside the White House in an attempt to invent a narrative; that drugs were becoming so prevalent that dealers were unashamedly selling them outside the home of the Leader of the Free World. Lies. Damn Lies. You hate liars.

Don’t change the channel just yet

We live in a time where you could be so easily found out, and shamed for lying (because the internet). So why not make your own reality? Have a shot, get inebriated, screech when your song comes on, put on a show, everyone loves you; you’re such a genuine person. It cuts deeply because we are all invested in this narrative. I’m as much an actor as you are, let’s get through this together. At the end we learn a brief lesson in existentialism.

Truman Burbank Played By: You

You don’t like being lied to. It makes you feel unintelligent and undervalued. Jim Carrey’s character in the Truman Show is initially unaware he lives in a “constructed reality”; had one of the actresses in his made up life not broke character and made him aware that it was all fake he might have well lived without care. Before that the lie was perpetuated by using fear; his father being killed on a fishing trip instilled a fear of the water and this would prevent him from ever setting sail out towards the edge of the dome which was his world. Likened to an existential wet-dream, he eventually discovers the truth and an end to his near-perfect world. Let’s have you play Truman for a while.

We are the audience. We read your tweets, see your snaps, ignore your calls and take part in the making of your inspired Instagram feed. You’re an honest person, and to be honest your life is not all that interesting at the moment; as Jerry Seinfeld pointed out you’ll be part of a long list of contacts we’ll use our finger to “flick through like a gay French King”. That is unless you give us a show Truman.

Now we are intrigued. The locations, the pictures with your friends never aware the camera was on them, screaming, wasted, living the life we all want to lead. Everything that is about you is followed by a clever caption and a handful of incoherent hashtags and emojis. Don’t listen to the crazy bloggers who tell you it’s a lie, they want what you have. Dare you venture out into the ocean.

I guess the question is: if it’s a good time why should it matter?

Let’s quickly track back to the US. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center showed that Americans exhibit the highest levels of fear, while Chinese citizens had amongst the lowest. What it came down to was the style of reporting in the media, the one country had a press that was set on reporting the “blood and guts” like a Hollywood thriller to increase profits, while the other country clamps down on press freedom. The reasons I denounce the two approaches by the fourth estate comes down to how the US perpetuates the illusion of freedom and China restricts it.

The most important takeaway is that we’ve been baited into creating a scene from the movie Network(1976) on our own timelines. Social media is media, and sadly how we rank content has adopted what is a deliberately manipulative method of manufacturing awe and sensation by the old press. How we report has slowly crept its way into becoming how we live. In the Truman Show, the viewers themselves became captives of the illusion.

The rise of reality TV isn’t because we demand more honesty, its because we tamper with our reality to such a large extent that it’s not hard to believe that a few housewives could lead lives plagued by so much drama and intrigue. We have put Gatorade into our water supply, and now regular water is only found in your toilet; so we want none of that. Our lives could very well become a collection of scenes from a Scorsese epic. To be given a stage, so this bull can rage. “Now that’s entertainment”

A horrible means to an end

We all think we are interesting. We have a powerful narrative that the world needs to hear. For some odd reason, we have to create a persona outside of ourselves to earn an audience and so a right to be heard. I remember a story in Dan Ariely’s book, “The Honest Truth about Dishonesty“, where an impostor taking on the persona of a celebrity became so consumed by his character he came to genuinely believe he was the celebrity. True story, it’s not just an analogous statement. Sometimes real life is stranger than fiction. There comes a point where we’ve moved around the furniture so often to please the guests, we’ve forgotten how the room used to look like. The transition is often so smooth and slick it goes unnoticed. It almost reminds me of an existential paradox about identity:

The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned from Crete had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their places, in so much that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same

Read more:

Is the ship still the same?

We aren’t innately bad people. Don’t get defencive.

There is nothing wrong with growing, and a little spit ‘n polish. What I fear is the original perspectives we may lose to the comforts of the mob. Your voice, however unpopular or uncanny, matters. Even if you love the trappings of a life as the star of your own show, fear ought to not keep you from a sea of variety and a life of exploration. That is my honest opinion.

On the bus from Granada to Algeciras. Clouds rolling in over the mountains. The only clouds I would see the entire trip.

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