Living the Illusion: How TV Alters our View of Reality
I’m pretty certain my future self is a manifestation of New Girl’s Jess Day. In two years, I completely plan to be a chilled teacher with effortlessly fantastic hair and the perfect group of friends waiting for me when I get home. Oh, and of course I’ll have a seemingly coy and nerdy look that everyone actually sees as really rockin’.
This is the future I choose to see, rather than the future I hear about in the newspapers: overworked teachers shifting through unachievable curriculum in unsafe neighbourhoods, only to come home to their tiny studio apartments, because (once again) their salaries have been slashed. Yes, I made the choice to believe that life will be rosier than that—because of what I see on the screen. And I know I’m not the only one. I mean, who hasn’t briefly considered becoming a doctor since the on-call-room sex and thrilling surgeries on Grey’s Anatomy? (Granted, this is no longer an aspiration as I’ve watched the whole cast die-off from unusually catastrophic events.) But is it actually bad to have a more idealistic view of our realities? Does living the illusion mean you’re setting yourself up for disappointment, or does the illusion slowly alter how you perceive your reality…maybe enough to permanently change it?
When Top Gun came to theatres in 1986, the Navy reported increased numbers of recruits wanting to join the Aviation Officers Training School and become part of the famous teams of fly-boys. This, of course, was not a coincidence. But these eager young men who watched Maverick triumph in the skies, enlivened by the memory of his beloved wingman, and then return to the arms of his blond-bombshell former teacher, must have known that being part of the Navy is not actually like that. Unfortunately. But even though they probably knew that signing up would not allow them to have a job quite this lofty, what they did gain by seeing their futures through “Hollywood glasses,” is a vision of excellence and distinction. And this is something that they could make a reality with or without Kelly McGillis.
So to have the same vision as these future Navy-men, means you would have to prescribe to the old adage that “perception is reality.” The way you view your future self is actually who you are. And even though the “reality” might only be in your mind, if you begin to live the life you wish to have, that reality will magically creep into sight. In other words, if you walk, talk, and act like a duck (which I don’t recommend you to do), you will get pretty close to being a duck. Living the illusion helps bring your illusion to reality, so maybe letting TV alter your view of it is not such a bad thing.
Remember that when you bring your kids into my classroom and mistake me for Jess Day.