Prescription or Subscription: Do we determine our realities or are they defined for us?

This post can go in so many different directions I honestly struggled to pick an angle. From western colonialism to the male gaze to the Influencer world of social media, this prescriptive or subscriptive nature of our reality is everywhere.

Before we delve into this topic, a few ground rules; by prescriptive, I mean the act of telling someone what they should do. By subscriptive (even though that’s not technically a word), I mean the act of someone following and paying attention to someone else’s view. Sounds pretty simple, but the distinction between the two will prove critical as we go further.

In this tumultuous age, I think it’s important to be aware of areas in your life where you are subscribing to certain views, and when these are being prescribed onto you – and, in both scenarios, how this can affect your reality. Take working life, for example. Some of my readers may be young working professionals, newly entering the big intimidating gates of corporate hierarchies, brands worth billions and ‘red tape’ bureaucracy. However, just that image in itself, is a prescribed view we were given of the business world (or at least, I was). It was always something daunting, powerful, “grown-up” and serious, that when I entered it, I struggled to feel like I fit in.

Some of you, in contrast, may be seasoned veterans in the corporate world; I wonder if you, too, felt this power, and whether you still do. Regardless, at some point in our lives, we were prescribed views on the world; perhaps through school, through the people we interacted with, and/or even through the events we experienced.

What we may not be as aware of, however, is how much of this we then consciously subscribe to, and how, even if we don’t do this consciously, it affects our reality. And, I’ve touched on this in previous posts, but what I really want to focus on here is the conscious decision of subscription, and what that means. Subscribing to a YouTuber is easy; a simple way for you to keep tabs on when someone you enjoy watching has uploaded new content. But, including this and in a wider sense, when you subscribe to a certain person’s view, say agreeing with the opinion of a new friend or stalking someone online, deciding you like their look and want to follow them (virtually, of course…), what then happens is they become a part of your reality, and inherently influence that.

This means that every model you follow on Instagram is adding to your reality an unrealistic, likely-edited version of beauty ideals. Every new friend you’re desperate to make in a new city, so you blindly agree with them and laugh with for the sake of feeling connected and part of something, is then tainting your reality with a false sense of security, a dilution of your own existence and being.

That’s not to say everyone or everything you subscribe to is inherently reducing your own self-worth; in many ways, subscribing to people is the latest ‘connection’; not friending someone on Facebook, not matching with someone on the hottest dating app (was that ever a ‘connection’?) but subscribing; choosing to regularly and consistently pay attention to someone’s content. Which is great, if you feel that what they’re putting out there is good for you, and helps. Note I didn’t say agree, because you don’t need to surround yourself only with people who share the same views as you, but that’s a post for another day.

All I’m saying is, it’s worth thinking a bit more consciously, especially in today’s world, about the choices we make and what kinds of people or energies we allow to enter our lives. These things can then, subtly, over time, have life-changing impacts, which may very well be for the better. But, whatever effect they may have, the least we can do is be conscious of the decisions we make, and be sure we wholly agree with them. Because if we don’t have a hold on our own realities, someone else will.

PC: Marc Schäfer

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