The Allegory of the Cave

Reading Time: 3 minutes

There’s a famous story by Plato called the Allegory of the Cave, which has really resonated with me recently, so I thought I’d share it with you too:

In the allegory, there are a group of prisoners chained together, in a cave, facing a wall. They’ve been like this their whole lives.

Behind the prisoners is a fire. And this fire casts shadows of various objects and puppets being carried by people walking along a raised walkway. So, the prisoners can only see the shadows of the objects and not the people themselves.

As they look at the shadows, they believe that this is their reality. As they’ve seen nothing else, they don’t realise that these shadows are just objects in front of a fire or inspired by real things outside the cave.

Imagine then, one day, one of the prisoners is freed and exposed to the fire and the real world. He’d see the true nature of reality and realise the shadows were just an illusion.

Believing the world outside the cave is superior, he’d return to share this knowledge with the other prisoners.

But, the returning prisoner would struggle to see inside the cave now his eyes have become accustomed to the sunlight. And the other prisoners would interpret his ‘blindness’ as though his journey out of the cave had harmed him and, therefore, they should remain within the safety of the cave.

In fact, they’d go as far as killing anyone who tried to free them, as they wouldn’t want to leave the safety and comfort of their known world.

This allegory got me thinking about my own life.

I spend many hours a day looking at screens. Whether it’s working on my laptop, scrolling social media on my phone, or watching my favourite show on TV.

I’m constantly looking at the world of projections through my devices.

And the more I think about it, the more I realise how these digital experiences have shaped my beliefs, my values, and even my relationships. Which is especially worrying when you realise that your consuming curated social media feeds, biased news articles, and the filtered reality of tv shows – all these create a semblance of reality that’s easy to accept without skepticism.

So, like the freed prisoner, I want to encourage everyone to step out of the digital cave this year. There’s a world beyond these shadows – a world that’s more real and unfiltered.

Spend more time in nature. Journal more. Spend more time with friends and family.

And make this the best year of your life.

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