Recently I stayed at a hotel while attending a family event. It was a lovely facility, set in a wooded area with lots of footpaths, plenty of inviting seating throughout, a full spa, etc. The thing is, everything about the experience- from the driveway approaching the front door, to the toiletries in the bathroom- was all about the "experience". Staying there would make you feel picture perfect, glamorous, elegant, no worries, no problems, thin, tan and straight white teeth. And it was all fake.
Full disclosure- I haven't stayed in many hotels nor do I travel much. So it was a complete surprise when the television contained a menu complete with my name on the top, "Welcome Virginia Ruth.." as if they had taken such personal care in my stay. On the menu one could choose the television, internet connection, dining options and a myriad of other activities. Unfortunately it appeared that I could not connect to anything. All that would display on the television was a very slick ad repeating over and over, encouraging one to plan another stay with this hotel chain.
I was not interested in all the gadgetry. I just wanted to check the local news/weather.
At our son's graduation there was a swarm of camera phones being held up to film the momentous occasion. If one was from another planet, you would've thought that the crowd was performing some religious ritual in which each person raises a rectangular object towards a robed gathering on stage.
Certainly it is important to capture what we can on film. But when capturing the moment takes precedence over being in the moment it makes you wonder? The family sitting next to us was so busy trying to film their daughter walking across the stage via focusing their camera on the jumbotron. Each one had their eye through a lens but didn't look at the actual stage so that after their daughter passed, they turned to each other, "Did anyone see Jennifer go across the stage? Did anyone get a still picture of her?" No one had.
I think we may have come to a societal place where virtual ideas, experiences and relationships have taken over reality. Even our so called news can be questioned as to whether all or parts of what is reported took place and is true. Of course, we all know that Facebook pictures are a highlight reel of only what is the best and greatest disguised as "Ho-hum, our lives aren't that perfect. Not."
If you are like me and frustrated with this made up world, what can we do? How do we keep a reality check and how do we not get sucked into the vortex of virtual life?
I think we need to remember the basics. We are flawed as humans. No one is perfect. There is no perfect body, relationship, physical setting or material object. That doesn't mean that being flawed is bad it just means that is how it is. In some way that should cause a great humankind sigh of relief. Everyone falls short. No one is better or worse than another. That is the reality.
We need to be wary of anything smelling of slickness: advertising (All they want is your money), latest time saving gadget (Really? Will it add quality years and meaning to my life?), carefree lifestyle (And who is having the carefree lifestyle? The underpaid employees who keep the fake lifestyle going?)
Looking at life realistically does not mean that we should be pessimistic. When we view life realistically we see flaws but we also see possibilities and opportunities for change and growth. We see ways that others might be struggling and we can help knowing that we too struggle. It produces real relationship.
When we view life realistically we compare that what is promoted and said with what is true. When we use truth as a template, most things even if difficult, will fall into place. The truth will set you free. Free from disappointment in false expectations, free from confidence destruction comparisons with others, free from wasted time and energy on something that is not really there.
That is the reality check.