Is unreal really unreal if, strongly believing in it, affects our lives? This could happen in many ways. Religion, economics & finance, politics, social issue and so on. Is not just for kids with imaginary friends, hopeless dreamers and mentally ill. Is no coincidence that the word of the year 2016 chosen by Oxford Dictionary is post-truth, where “post” stands for “irrelevant”. So the truth is secondary, facts are no longer facts but can become “alternative facts”. Sure, once they were called “lies”, but the whole thing is deeper than state falsity to cover the truth.
Let’s take religions. Ever since, humans all over the planet grew up a mystical sense, partly because they felt something beyond rationality, partly to explain what they didn’t know. Nobody got proof whether gods exist, but let’s suppose for a while that there is none. History and religion are intertwined, in good and evil. Wars, crusades, inquisition, terrorism, but also art, culture, monuments, from greek, roman, aztec, chinese temples to all the paintings commissioned by the Vatican; from arabesques in mosques and decorations in pagodas to the delicate manoeuvring of the scrolling monks, who preserved classic masterpieces. We can’t say that religions don’t affect how the world turns or the faithfuls behaviour, that goes for any confession.
And talking about faith (or trust), ain’t that the principle on which capitalism stands? Cyclical global crisis are due to intangible mechanisms that have very little in common with reality. For instance, what are derivatives? Financial instruments with no intrinsic value, but worth only if related to other products and the variations of their prices. Stock markets are based just on predictions, but even if they seem the opposite on concrete, they can bring countries down. Another borderline case is about banks. If every single account holder decided to withdraw to the last penny because he thought that his savings were in danger, the system would colapse. So the balance is extremely delicate.
Fear can steer political choices. How many progressive governments lost the elections (or were brutally stopped) with communism used a “scarecrow”, with no real basis. In Greece, Tsipras lost his first elections because propaganda said that he would get off European Union and euro. Now that he’s prime minister… nothing changed! The same happened in Spain with Podemos or in the U.S. with Bernie Sanders. When a slogan is repeated so much with the convintion that is true, it becomes true, as it distorts regular competion.
On the other hand, right wing parties use security and immigration problems to gain consensus. Media and politics, despite what Donald Trump says, cooperate in this. Internet is not a stronghold against tv and newspapers lies. Like any other media, internet lies itself, because technology goes on, but the logic of human beings is the same, always. So we are flooded with fake news, shared and shared until become viral and credible. Like the invasion of immigrants, the islamisation, the denial of climate changes. We just went from “it’s true, the television said that” of 20 years ago to “it’s true, i read it on the internet”. Different tools, same manipulation.
Imaginary world isn’t all bad, anyway. Dreams make us wake up with a mood that can affect our day, reading the horoscope can too. But also movies, novels, songs, not necesarely based on true events can inspire us, letting us relate to situations similar to the ones we experience and cheer us up, even a little, give us some answers. As long as we don’t lose touch and use all them to escape from reality.