In the first film of the Matrix trilogy, Neo has a choice to make. He can swallow the blue pill, continue living in a simulated reality and “believe whatever he wants to believe.” Or he can take the red pill – and wake up in the real world.
You make the same decision every single day.
A lot of what you know about the world is false. You were brought up to believe in a bunch of wacky, artificial rules that limit what you do every single day. It’s a comfortable existence, but not a very liberated one.
Here’s the harsh, empowering truth about who you can be and what you can do if you take the red pill and wake up to the real world.
Welcome To The Matrix
There’s a basic list of “life rules” we don’t question. Examples are:
- You need to do well at school and get into a good university.
- You need to get a good degree and get a good job.
- You need to work hard and get promoted at your job.
- You need nice things – cars, clothes, homes – to enjoy life more.
- You need to find a nice girl and commit to her.
- You need to get married and start a family.
- You need to own more nice things.
- You need to follow social norms (e.g. have manners) in order to be accepted by people.
You might be thinking: “I’m not like that! I know money can’t buy me happiness! I know monogamy isn’t the only lifestyle choice I can make!”
Well, you might know those things, but be real: you’d feel awkward if you had bummy clothes or an old phone. You probably want to get married eventually and think a college degree is great to have.
That’s because these life-rules are deeply embedded into us from decades of social conditioning: “the process of training individuals to respond in a manner generally approved by the society.” (Thanks, Wikipedia!)
Yep: you’re trained to act in certain ways by everyone around you your whole life. Why is everyone – from your parents to big corporations – interested in training you this way?
Blue Pill: Living In The System
In The Matrix, the humans live in a simulated reality while the machines use their bodies for energy. Our world isn’t too different: when you buy into society’s rules (the matrix), society as a whole benefits – just like the machines in the movie.
- The company you work in benefits when you follow the rules because you become a good, productive employee.
- Governments benefit when you’re a responsible member of society and good taxpayer.
- Your parents pass their social conditioning onto you instinctively to ensure your survival.
- Businesses benefit when you have a good salary because you can give them more of your money.
- Women benefit from you having money and nice things because this makes you a good provider for prospective children.
- Society at large wants you to follow the rules because that’s what’s good for society.
Obey and you get to enjoy a stable existence within the system. Your employer will pay you; your parents will support you; you’ll find a wife and have kids. Your life might not be exciting our outstanding, but it will be pretty nice.
That’s the blue pill. Eat it every day, don’t question the rules and have a comfortable life.
Red Pill: Freedom
On a deeply subconscious level, people want others to do what they do and think how they think. In fact, people get very angry when you challenge their reality. (If you’ve seen people get protective of their religious beliefs, you know what I mean.)
This is what makes social conditioning so potent. Everyone is swallowing the blue pill every day – and they genuinely want you to do the same thing. They really want you to do what’s best for society.
If you refuse, you’ll be under a lot of pressure to change your mind. Some people will think you’re weird, crazy or an idiot. They’ll do everything they can to turn you into a “normal” person through social pressure.
But guess what?
Tonight, tens of thousands of people are making money by writing about their travels; playing online poker; winning video-game tournaments.
Tonight, a guy and a girl will walk out of a club and have some great sex.
Tonight, someone will climb a majestic mountain; surf a 15-foot wave; challenge what’s normal and realistic to everyone else.
All those people – and many others – exist outside what most people understand to be reality. They do the impossible and their lives kick ass. That’s what the red pill is all about.
The red pill isn’t a magic pill. The red pill is the simple understanding that you don’t have to live like everyone else; that you can do extraordinary things. You don’t need to impose the same limitations that everyone else does on yourself.
And that’s what’s magic.
The geek in me came out for this article; hopefully, I’m not the only one who remembers the Matrix movies!
Really though, I think it’s a good comparison. In one scenario, people comfortably live in a simulated reality and the machines benefit. In the other scenario, people comfortably live in an artificially limited reality and society benefits. Sounds pretty similar to me!
If you commit to being a Red Pill kind of guy, you’re in for a rude awakening. People will hold you back and society will withdraw its support. Unless you’re committed to breaking the rules long-term, the pressure will crush you.
Freedom, I hear, isn’t free.