Revels and Rebels IX


Dear Santa,

Sorry that you had to chase me via email for my wish.  With world politics turning into a fairground attraction this year, I understand that you needed to know in advance if my wish was going to be as big as the BREXIT carousel we’re all currently riding on.  But worry not, Santa, my wish will not be putting a strain on your logistics, so you can tell the second army of reindeer to stand down, you won’t be needing another sleigh tonight.

And so to the deed in hand.
A trumpet of neighing reindeer if you please….
Herewith is my ninth Christmas wish.

Santa, for Christmas this year, I would like reality. 
Not virtual reality, not reality TV, and definitely not hyper-reality.  Just reality. 

And by reality, I refer to the type of existence where happiness isn’t merchandised.  Where there is more meaning and less information.  And where an Instagram filter is simply a clever piece of code rather than a way of life. 

For the last two decades, the media has drip fed us a reality that is more than reality.  Today, it’s hard to see where reality ends and the media’s simulacrum begins.  The media says, “Why work at defining happiness when you can consume it? Why contemplate life and death when you have anti-wrinkle cream and Photoshop?   Why have an existentialist crisis when you can run into our supermundane arms?” And we say, “Yes, let’s!” as we trade our humility for headlines, swap our thoughts for trends and mistake truth for status updates. 

Santa, for the last nine Christmases I’ve been warning about a tipping point in politics as democracy is marginalised and reality is misnarrated. And guess what, we tipped this year. It started with the breath taking storms of Brexit as it hammered on our front doors.  And then there were the political shifts in Hungary and Poland. Until finally we slipped into the abyss as the harrowing sirens of the White House bled out across the world to mark reality TV transcendeding politics.

And whilst many factors came together to create this political topple, the beating heart that sustained it was the smoke and mirrors of our hyper-reality.  We’ve been so busy chasing the lifestyle of the Instagram filter and status update – a place where pain is eclipsed by manufactured happiness – we’ve not noticed the power we’ve given away, or that we’ve turned into Icarus and are now flying dangerously close to the sun. 

So Santa, tonight, as you fly across the world, please prevent us from losing our wings all together.  Blast away the smoke and mirrors of our hyper-real existence so we can kick hubris into touch and make a run for freedom.  I’m sure there’s a hashtag opportunity in that…  I imagine marketeers sitting in fancy offices with an ironic drink in hand, brainstorming for hours to triumphantly emerge with the campaign #keepingitreal validated by a photoshopped model astride a pink standard poodle.  Though I rather prefer #mundane validated by a sheep in a wig. 

Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.”  Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

With love,

Louise x

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References:
Reflecting on the year that was 2016; Brexit and the dawn of Trumpage.

Revels and Rebels is an annual letter to Santa. Since 2007, I've used the form of the Dear Santa letter to reflect on the year that's gone and ask for a wish for the year to come.

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