What do I mean by this? I mean people are no longer in control of their world – instead, their world controls them. We can no longer imagine what inside forces or internally-directed individuals or social movements, could be. Because these have been destroyed completely. Everyone lives in fear of being discovered – just the opposite of the normal situation.
In this situation it is worthwhile to consider what is real and what is not. Not too long ago this would have been a foolish question: what is is simply what is and it is bombarding us with its presence continuously. But most of these sensory and emotional impacts are no longer felt; we have restricted ourselves to one kind of input: the image on a screen or display.
Everything else is seen as happening on a virtual screen in our minds. Only it is real, and there is nothing behind it. People have become consumers, reacting to these images.
It is instructive to trace this development, which started with the invention of photography in the middle of the 19th Century. Immediately photographs became more real than the reality they imaged. Reality had been condensed into an image on a surface – automatically! This was much better than a painting, which was produced by a human. The external force (a technical process which controlled human events) had made its first appearance.
This was soon combined with printing, and every newspaper had to have its photograph, front and center. One photograph could be reproduced millions of times. This was power! People noticed, and were influenced.
Moving pictures were next – and their influence was hypnotic. People could sit for hours in a darkened theater and watch the image on the silver screen – bigger that life! The addition of sound made it much more powerful – and the lives of their movie stars became more important than their own. The external force had become a world of its own – the real world, as they saw it.
But this was nothing. The advent of television quickly took over – and soon became the new reality – and is still our dominate one. McLuhan said “The medium is the message,” and the medium was the television screen. As far as the public was concerned, there was nothing behind this screen, and this seemed perfectly natural. As far as business was concerned, it was perfect way to manipulate the masses – and they set about doing just that.
But this was nothing, by comparison to what came next – a something that is still happening. The computer/software/internet made a new power structure possible.
Here again, as far as the masses are concerned, everything happens on a magical surface – that of a computer display (preferably a hand-held one).
Behind these displays, powerful (even global) interconnected forces are at work – but they too are controlled by forces they do not understand.