"people are not machines but in every opportunity where they are allowed to behave like machines, they will so behave." -- Ludwig von Bertalanffy
first, let me get this out of the way: while entirely fascinating, i do not mean a simulation like in "the matrix (1999)," or elon musk, or even an ancestor simulation constructed by some distant descendants of ours with massive computing power in the far future. while entirely plausible, i find the distinction redundant as most of what we experience as "reality" is already completely illusory. see: plato's titular allegory of the cave.
when i say simulation i'm talking about it in a more sociological sense, like a socially constructed reality (aka: social constructionism). i first encountered this idea when a friend of mine turned me on to Mike Cernovich's youtube channel but as it turns out i had already been primed to the idea by listening to countless hours of Terrance McKenna lectures in my youth. McKenna is often quoted saying, "Culture is your operating system." and spoke at length about how culture is actually always working to shape you in to whatever sized widget it can manage depending on whatever sized widgets it currently needs, regardless of what you think you want. this idea is also explored in other books such as "zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance".
so what is a socially constructed reality then? i believe Shakespeare first popularized the idea that "All the world's a stage" and in essence, a socially constructed reality is a formalized version of that statement. it's only because of the immense networking power of the internet and the modern web of connected devices that we are now able to actually observe (and change) this fundamental mechanism.
there are people, groups and governments in the world who seek to use this data precisely for this reason, to program you. usually, and most innocuously, they wish to sell you things but that's really only a consequence of how new all of this technology is. it's been about 10 years since cell phones became "smart phones" and about 15 years since dial-up internet became ubiquitous every-where-you-go wifi. with so many of us spending an increasing number of hours online each and every day the number of eyeballs on any given youtube video, facebook post or news article share has grown to astronomical heights. this came to a head in the 2016 presidential election and resulted in the often flung around term, "fake news".
fake news, whether true or not is of no importance in this regard, what actually matters is how many people saw the story, took the bait and believed what they thought it meant at face value. these are the people who are targeted: people who will have their already held beliefs subconsciously reinforced that also will do no further research on the subject and simply accept it as true. that is how fake news operates: it programs you deeper in to your own currently held beliefs until such a point of cognitive dissonance is reached that you actually begin to lose your mind (or, alternatively and very rarely, change your beliefs).
these are the types of ways a simulated or socially constructed reality operates. it has become the defacto tool of both major political parties in the united states (see: Cambridge Analytica) since popularized by the 2016 presidental election. we have crossed a threshold in history and there is no turning back, we are indeed now in the age of the simulation.
so what can we do? how does one "unplug" from this simulation ? the good news is: you've already just taken the first step by reading these words. by being aware of the fact that you have been passively consuming information without ever challenging it (and yourself) you can begin to slowly remove all of these "virtual buttons" placed on your forehead that people seek to press to make you stop doing something.
the first button i would recommend removing is the "self attack" button (aka. "ugh, i'm sorry, why did i do that.. i'm so stupid"), also known as privilege, white guilt, patriarchy, racism, etc. this is by far the most used attack by those wishing to control the behaviors of others and by removing it you innoculate yourself to the majority of all attacks you will ever see in your lifetime. how can you do this? it's long and ardorus but you need to begin by rewriting the scripts in your mind, rewriting the stories you believe and begin to believe in yourself and your own conscience/judgement/faith above all else. anything less than this will leave you nothing more than a glorified marionette. check out some of the books in the /books/ section to get started.