Our personal conceptions of reality are based on what we remember consciously and as unconscious habits. What we remember visually has changed because our vision is modified by our evolving media of information and of art. Our view of the world has been moderated the last half century by television. Our mental images of our personal past are greatly influenced by what happened in the world as mediated by TV. We all remember the vivid images of September 11, 2001, of the World Trade Centers collapsing, and that event has changed our lives. Seven decades ago, December 7, 1941 was remembered by radio reports, newspaper stories and images and a few weeks later by movie newsreels. 15 February 1898 was the sinking of the US Battleship Maine, which was the cause de guerre of the Spanish-American war and it was the giant newspaper event of the era.
Carrying this idea of our consciousness being moderated by our observed media into present times, it seems that current events are now being greatly affected by cell phone videos being transmitted live to the internet. Of course those are quickly rebroadcast by television, and within a day find their way into the newspapers and by the end of the week into news magazines, but the initial impact onto the minds of the people most involved is now being formed by the original sources – cell phone text, audio and video as transmitted by the internet.
A century and a half ago, published books like the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin had major impact on the American public’s perception of reality, and that book did much to precipitate the American Civil War and end slavery. And pure propaganda books composed of lies, like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, laid a foundation for mass hysteria. Books can still have an impact, but it is difficult to imagine one creating the havoc of those two. Whereas the chaos created by an almost non-existent movie trailer published on the internet created major problems for the Arab world, and the deadly effects became a plank in the Presidential debates. A hundred years ago it was just a diplomatic Letter to Garcia, leaked to the public, which created a major storm.
Media input becomes reality in people’s minds, as much as the real world events that happen to them personally. Fiction doesn’t imitate reality, it becomes reality. People remember the fictions in their lives just as well, perhaps better than their real life events, because the fiction is better crafted than random occurrences and thus is more exciting and more memorable. To carry that idea forward a bit, we are the summation of our most memorable experiences, and if our most memorable experiences are coming from our fiction-doused media-lives we are forming ourselves into fictional people.
When it comes to our minds – fiction goes in, fiction comes out.