Reality Distortion Field

A concept I am becoming increasingly fascinated by is something called the “reality distortion field.” It’s a concept that was introduced by Star Trek (like many great concepts, right?) but was really picked up by Apple to describe the way Steve Jobs could redefine reality based on nothing more than his drive, charisma and vision.

It’s a concept that appeals to me greatly. As soon as I heard it, I thought, “You mean to tell me I can create my own reality just by willfully insisting it already exists? Well sign me up!” The truth is that I already do this to some degree – and so does pretty much everyone else. The real issue isn’t, “do I create my own reality?” but, “what kind of reality am I creating right now?”

You know what I mean. This goes beyond “glass half full” and “glass half empty.” This goes to people who can’t get past the look of the glass to see that what the glass is half full with. A chipped jam jar half filled with Prosecco is different than a crystal goblet half filled with blue Kool-Aid, but if you can’t get past “chipped jam jar” to see the contents, then whether it’s half full or half empty is irrelevant.

But I digress. Back to the reality distortion field.

In the context of the RDF belief system, it doesn’t matter if it’s a chipped jam jar or a crystal goblet. What counts is that you have the power to make it into anything you like and with the right marketing, it becomes something coveted by others as well. If you don’t believe me, then ask yourself how burlap became a decorative item. Burlap is the least decorative utility fabric of the farm. It’s used for gross things, like for hauling bags of horse poop from the horse poop pile over to the garden. And then someone discovered that if you cut it into small squares and set it under a jam jar tied with a piece of ribbon, as long as that setting looks reasonably urban, it becomes folksy and coveted. And as long as we all tacitly agree not to ask if it came from an urban chic store (new) or from your grandma’s farm (used) then we can all agree that we need more burlap in our place settings.

But here is where it gets good: by agreeing that urban chic means “quality,” and not “horse poop,” then burlap becomes agreeably more expensive and organic. Mostly it becomes more expensive and that means a lot. (Especially if you work at Farmer’s Mercantile and you can’t believe your luck.)

Steve Jobs had this down pat. He managed to create devices – a computer, an iPad, an iPhone – that are compatible with nothing and require proprietary everything and that cost astronomically more than everything else. And then he convinced us we needed them. And then because he convinced us we needed them, we bought them. (Even as you read this, know that it was typed on a MacBook Air and edited from my iPad. One of those devices was twice the cost of the HP laptop I use for work, and yet here I am opting for overpriced style because the RDF belief system is one I fall for hook, line and sinker. I’m one Pinterest pin away from DIY burlap placemats.)

So off we go, armed with credit cards, to buy MacBooks that are disdainfully compatible with the thumb drives and mice we can’t live without when we use our HP. We leave the store armed with a sleek box and a credit card that is in shock over what you’ve done. But keep that credit card handy because you’re going to need it again. Sleeker is better. It’s a lot better. I mean, who needs all those USB ports so we can do things like use a mouse and a thumb drive? Certainly not me. I’m far too trendy to admit I might need to occasionally use a USB stick to back up my files. PssSHAW. Unplug that unappealing pink Hello Kitty thumb drive. We have iCloud accounts for $4.95 per month instead of a zillion gigs of space on the thumb drive we bought from the bucket on the Staples counter for sone-time purchase of $6.95. RDF, as it turns out, is expensive. But as long as the end result is that I am dancing at Steve Jobs’ reality distortion field, who cares?

And as a bonus, I look good when I’m in Starbucks. That counts.

(As if I can afford Starbucks after buying a replacement lightening cable. HA!)

So what kind of reality have you created? Remember that s what sparked all of this. Have you created a reality where sleeker, tighter, trimmer, and more expensive are better? Or is your reality based on the real world?

A few years ago, a friend of mine, Jonathan, said, “I believe in dreaming, as long as those dreams are realistic.” Which brings us to the whole RDF concept. You can have a realistic view of the world and probably you can lead a reasonably good life there. A lot of people do and they are what we call the fabric of our society. But if you are like me, you aren’t satisfied with reality. You like dreams. No, you love dreams. And your reality is whatever vibrant shades of dreams you have painted it to be.

In my mind, you can be a Steve Jobs or you can be a realist. We need both. But if you are destined for greatness, you don’t have time to hold back. You have some growth to do and you need to get on it now. Create your reality distortion field. Be the maverick. Be the game changer. And once you can see it so clearly it looks real, it’s time to bring others into your dream.

Good luck. I believe in you.