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Denying reality

Since the beginning of time – or at least, the 1950’s – television has stretched the bounds of reality.  The people on those screens were, more often than not, unusually attractive.  They always said the right things.  Every problem was solved within thirty minutes to an hour.

Then came reality TV.  And soon after, came the discovery that reality was much more interesting if it was manipulated.  But viewers didn’t mind.  They actually preferred the artificiality of this new genre and welcomed a new crop of celebrities.

Today, we know that the families in real estate shows already have a house picked out, and the TV contractors rarely do the actual work.  Those candidates looking for love are often more interested in fame and fortune than any potential bachelor or bachelorette.  And while fashion is subjective, your favourite TV stylists often relied on their own team of experts to decide what [not] to wear.

TV viewers have become sophisticated – and jaded – enough to understand the difference between what’s real and what’s artificial.  And yet, some are deciding that they prefer the fakery.

A 35-year-old Japanese man recently married a hologram of a 16-year-old virtual reality singer named Hatsune Miku.  She lives – and floats – in an expensive capsule-shaped device on his desk.

According to her “husband” Akihiko Kondo, she wakes him in the morning and turns on the lights for him when he comes home from work.  A 12-inch doll version of Miku also sleeps with him at night.

Despite evidence to the contrary, Kondo’s not crazy.  He knows she’s not real.  And he likes it that way.

Apparently, he did not do well with the ladies in high school or in the work force.  Consequently, he made the conscious decision never to marry.

Yet, he’s loved Miku for more than ten years and has never cheated on her.  And more importantly, she cannot cheat on him.  Or age.  Or even die.

Which makes his decision to exchange vows with a stuffed doll in front of forty mystified guests, an ironically practical choice. 
But that’s just one very unusual Asian man living half-way around the world.  Right?

Not exactly.  The company that makes the hologram has issued almost four thousand “marriage certificates” just like Kondo’s.  That’s four thousand people who know the difference between reality and fantasy and yet, have still chosen to make that fantasy their reality.

Of course, given the violence and anger and diatribe that blankets the media and spreads around the globe every day, is it any wonder that people are purposely turning away from reality?  It’s not pretty.

And whether you call prefer fantasy or reality, artificiality or authenticity, television has taught us how to expertly manoeuvre between both realms.  Some of us just use this skill more prolifically than others.

Some become reality stars.  Some marry a hologram.  And some become politicians and sell “alternative facts.”  While the rest of us just turn off the TV.

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