Are You Seduced by Hyper-Reality?

Unrealistically beautiful people. A glamorous lifestyle you can never achieve. These are the images the media sends us all the time. It’s a carefully constructed hyper-reality which tugs at our desires of who we want to be. The people are usually airbrushed to perfection, and the lifestyles appear equal parts pretentious and exclusive, yet also fun and without the drama or problems we incur in real-life. How can that be?

GAP ads, Abercrombie & Fitch, men’s magazines and fashion magazines all construct hyper-reality illusions which are the products of the brains of the photographers who attempt to construct a perfect lifestyle idealized by some plastic product. I don’t know exactly what the lives of the extremely beautiful and successful is really like, although I doubt it involves so much relaxing by swimming pools in Monte Carlo, with $400 shades and men having threesomes with models.

What these images don’t convey are people’s drug habits, the models who suffer from anorexia, the guys who suffer from emotional problems (just like everyone else does) or the successful man who just lost his business (a designer sunglasses company in Monte Carlo, I’d presume) because the economy went south.

I want to bring this up because I feel like people are always being seduced by these images. We all quest for this holy grail where we can experience a slice of this lifestyle, attainable through buying some type of shampoo, cologne, vodka, accessory or suit.

What I find interesting is that I don’t see how these idyllic lifestyles really convey happiness. I’ve never seen people genuinely happy in a clique before, especially any clique that is centered around image and how beautiful and high-status everyone is by comparison to everyone beneath them. There’s always fighting and ego-wars involved in cliques. Nobody would even calm down and relax long enough to experience those moments of hyper-reality on that yacht with the beautiful Ukrainian models and gangster-looking white dudes showing off their airbrushed six-packs.

So, what really is the attainable hyper-reality? Well, I think if you can find a group of people who are all legitimately happy around each other, you might have a taste of this lifestyle. You know, the best friends all hanging out, vibing off each other, and having fun (like you see in many of those ads). But, this doesn’t have anything to do with products or materialism. The thing that brings everyone together isn’t the shampoo they use or the brand of cologne, but only open-mindedness, enjoyment of each other’s company, and basically all non-clique behavior.

So, maybe that’s what they should sell in commercials. Open-minded, fun, positive attitudes. Maybe they can bottle it up and try to sell it retail. And then, they’ll be some truth to these advertisements. Because I can guarantee you, a group of people in their mid-twenties who are that obsessed with everyone’s status based on what wristwatches and perfumes are worn, are probably so insecure about themselves that they would be impossible to deal with in any lasting relationship.

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Comments

  1. There are two extremes: having an unrealistically high expectation for one’s life and working extremely hard to attain it while continually falling short, and accepting life at the bottom of the barrel, not caring about being healthy and looking good. Sure, fat, uncultured, short-lived people can be happy, but theirs is a happiness devoid of meaning.

    We see the clash of these two extremes as advertising peddles the former, and the political correctness brigade promotes the latter (with fat acceptance, for example – treating obesity as just another facet of diversity along with ethnicity, gender, and orientation is disgusting).

    A hyperreal lifestyle is attainable only to a select few in reality, but in virtuality, practically anyone can attain in a world such as Second Life. Decades from now, when the virtual is virtually indistinguishable from the real, full-time living in hyperreality will be a reality.

  2. Hey Aphradonis,

    Interesting perspective.

    I think what’s unhealthy is the idea you have to be part of some beautiful imagery from a fashion magazine in order to be happy.

    There IS a correlation, I think, between physical appearance and mental health. I’m a bit dubious of a “fat” gene responsible for people being overweight against their will. I think if you are in very bad shape it’s mostly a reflection on how you choose to live your life. So in this respect, ‘beautiful’ looking people may have some correlation with a happy lifestyle.

    But some people can have perfect bodies, yet are genetically unappealing. In addition, everyone ages. So, hyper-reality is still just an illusion, and those obsessed with it can become looks-obsessed, ageist, or elitist. Very bad things.

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