By Caleb Keith –
The Matrix is one of the most recognizable movie franchises of all time. Not only is the series filled to the brim with action, but it also tackles moral dilemmas, and most importantly the philosophical idea of existence. The basic gist of the series rests on the unseen enslavement and harvesting of humanity by cybernetic beings. This race of machines relies on the electrochemical energy produced by the human mind. In an effort to harness this energy the machines imprison human minds in a virtual reality called the Matrix. Walking away from the first movie in the trilogy one might ask themselves, “Do I exist?” or, “Is everything just a dream?” There is something terrifying about the idea that the world might be fake, that no one truly exists outside of a phony digital program. Yet as technology advances we find more ways to upload ourselves into the matrix.
The world has gone digital. According to a 2011 working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, the average American spent two hours online for leisure alone each day. Combine that with the amount of time spent online for work, television, and video games, and the duration one spends online skyrockets to a whopping 11 hours a day. The average American spends almost half of each day in the digital world rather than the real one. Instead of fighting the machines like Neo in the Matrix, humanity is embracing the machines and freely handing over life to the digital overlords. The prominence of digital reality will only increase as virtual reality headsets move into the consumer world. In The Matrix humanity wanted out of the virtual world, so in the real world why does humanity want the opposite?
The online world presents itself as a safe escape from the hardship of everyday life. The online world becomes your online world with endless customization and filters. In this world everything is meant to entertain; and if someone bothers you, just forget about it and open a new page. Here, one can cultivate or even collect their own communities, excluding and un-friending anyone who goes against the grain. Digital media can be curated to near perfection, however, as the Matrix, it will always fall short. See, the Matrix and the modern digital world aren’t real at all. Whether it is robot overlords or dealing with the everyday struggles that come with living in a fallen world, nothing disappears while one escapes into the digital ether. Instead, the problems stew in the background, often getting worse than they were before.
The real world is often hard to face. It is filled with pain, exhaustion, and death. It is easy to see why the digital escape is so appealing, but the digital world cannot fix any of the brokenness of life, just delay it until things come burning down. God calls us out of our Matrix, out of our hiding, and into faith. Faith, not in the creation of men, but in the Son of God who offered his life, not as a temporary fix to our discomfort, but as the ultimate solution to our suffering. Thanks be to the risen Christ, who conquered the world of death and brought us into the real world of life.