Internet paradigm IV: Hyperreality, Simulation, Spectacle

This week’s lecture confused me. I was lost.

That is until Plato’s Allegory of the Cave was mentioned. I am familiar with Plato, and so that background information contributes to my frame of perception. Understanding new information given in this lecture (the new stimuli) through the lens of the allegory (my frame of perception) made it all the more accessible.

It is likely, however, that I understood it in a different way than someone who doesn’t know about Plato.

We are all in Plato’s cave in terms of hyperreality and simulation, the accessibility and excess of choice we experience as people living in the modern digital age. We each live in our little self-curated bubble. We aren’t chained to a wall in a cave, but we each choose how we perceive our reality.

We join Facebook or Instagram or Spotify or Netflix, and we consume content that we like. We follow people that we know, pages that we like… we see content that majoritively affirms our own perceptions of reality. (Hayes, Smock, & Carr, 2015)

In the same vein as The Cave, even when we are made aware that our perception of reality isn’t correct, people photoshop their bodies, that someone’s Instagram feed isn’t representative of their entire life…we can’t completely separate ourselves from that perception.

So, do we live in a simulation? Yes, of course. It may not be a computer code or aliens sitting in a sports bar on mars placing bets about their favourite characters on a TV show called ‘Earth’. But we understand reality based on our constructed perception of ourselves and our world. We create our own simulation in many ways.

For my remidation, I’ve created something extra annoying! It’s a song by Mumford and Sons called ‘The Cave’ (yes, in reference to Plato), except with lots of annoying social media sounds in it. Enjoy!

SoundCloud: Reading Plato but Your Phone Keeps Going Off


Hayes, R. A., Smock, A., & Carr, C. T. (2015). Face[book] management: Self-presentation of political views on social media. Communication Studies, 66(5), 549-568. 10.1080/10510974.2015.1018447