"You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.... You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. The Matrix is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth. 'What truth?' That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch--a prison, for your mind."
The above quote was delivered by Morpheus to Neo in the 1999 film _The Matrix_. This film had the Platonic/Kantian metaphysical theme of a dual reality, in this case the real reality and a coercively imposed, simulated reality. The following questions naturally arose for the main characters (and for the viewing audience): Which reality is preferable? Would you surrender your autonomy (or allow it to be taken from you) for an allegedly perfect, simulated life--or how about for the sake of maintaining dysfunctional relationships with your fellow Matrix denizens (so no one gets upset)?
Indeed, this topic hinges on the very meaning of one's life, that is, what it means to be a thinking and feeling person, capable of making good (and bad) decisions for yourself. We all have the natural right to do as we please, so long as we don't initiate force against others. To aggress against others and their property would be to deny their natural right to self-ownership and a peaceful life.
Similar to the the characters in _The Matrix_ who lived nonautonomous, simulated lives, a prison exists for our minds as well. Consider our many childhood attempts at freeing ourselves, independently exercising our rational minds and moral judgment. Our decision-making ability was oftentimes thwarted by various adults, in the home, in school, and in our culture, who were more concerned about controlling us than respecting us. We were taught in so many ways to not think independently, to not question "authority," to sacrifice for others, and to never, ever be "selfish." Such unjustifiable control over our choices by others tended to make their wrongs somehow seem warranted, practical, acceptable (or at least tolerable), even virtuous.
It was for our own good, we were told. As adults, we're told that surrendering our independent judgment and autonomy is for the common good, the general welfare, the public interest. Obey, conform, sacrifice. These are our societal duties as well-regulated, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens. And this is part of the unreal reality for our imprisoned minds. Essentially, we are ordered to follow unjust laws and immoral rules based on mindless tradition, rather than encouraged to use simple logic and common sense. We are supposed to accept it when innocent people get hurt or killed in the process, or are doomed to suffer at the hands of individuals who claim to be "just doing" their jobs. As in war, the victims are seen merely as collateral damage, the price paid for maintaining, ironically enough, a "law and order" society.
The other parts of the unreal reality concern supernatural beliefs foisted on us in defiance of evidence and logic as well as personal relationships that perpetuate all sorts of corrupt myths and disrespectful and unfulfilling interactions. Much of these processes are covered in a small book titled _On Truth: The Tyranny Of Illusion_ by philosopher Stefan Molyneux. It can be read for free here:
_On Truth_ deals mainly with our personal relationships that involve dishonesty and self-sacrifice, such as when a person seeks to manage their own feelings of anxiety or fear or anger through trying to control your behavior or beliefs. At this meetup, let's explore the profound impact of such modern day illusions and the psychologies that defend them, on your path to happiness--outside the Matrix.