The allegory of the prisoners in the cave watching shadows on the wall relates to us today because we, as human beings, supposedly, learn things all the time whether it’s at school, work or any other miscellaneous place and it is never one-hundred percent accurate in how it is being told and as a result, our point of view of that certain topic has been distorted, skewed and horribly misshapen.
One way that the allegory relates to us today is through advertising, distribution of products and marketing because companies from all over the globe such as, Nike, Apple, and/or Target try and sell their products to you, claiming that their products will make you a better person and/or help you in life with whatever it claims to provide. In actuality, while it is true that they provide merchandise that people can use on a day-to-day basis, the feeling of satisfaction wears off and you will just need to buy the materials again to try and feed your never-ending desire for material things that the market offers. In other words, the illusion of excitement of ownership of a popular product, whether it be the new smartphone, or the new pair of shoes, fades incredibly fast and you are forced to buy the next big thing to try and satisfy your desires and wants, but it can never be done, which is why advertising and marketing materials are keep us prisoners of our own ignorance, like in The Allegory of the Cave. Ads make you buy their products, thus making you believe that the real thing to achieve in your life is actually material, but, on the contrary, is actually not material at all because buying things like shoes, phones, and other materials for yourself doesn’t make you a better person. All you do is feed into the illusion and have your own reality distorted around you of what you should strive to do because you should strive to give back to the community, which is the complete antithesis of trying to feed your desires.
In Reyna Grande’s book The Distance Between Us, Grande explains her father’s situation from Mexico to America saying, “Like most immigrants, my father had left his native country with high expectations of what like in El Otro Lado would be like” (7). Grande’s father believed that America was going to be a wonderful land where anybody could get a job, but Grande continues to narrate, “Once reality set in, and he realized that dollars weren’t as easy to make as the stories people told made it seem” (7). She says that reality set in or in this case, her father got out of the cave and went up to the light because before, his shadow illusions, so to speak, were people giving him false information and false hope, which is why he has had such a rude awakening when he came to America. He listened to the shadow illusions instead of using a better source. He was a prisoner of his own ignorance, much like the people chained up down in the cave. His perception of what was real and what wasn’t real was skewed because he didn’t “Come up from the cave and rise into the sunlight” or get verified sources about America so that he wouldn’t be in the bad situation that he is in.
Plato’s allegory incredibly personifies our perceptions of what we think that reality is. It could be false perceptions like, watching television, a computer screen, or staying inside your own microcosm of what you think that reality is. All these shadows distort our perception of reality because we have grown so accustomed to these things and we, for the most part believe that television, computer screens, and staying in our own introverted microcosm is reality because we are so used to these customs. But what if we could break that introverted and inhibited mold and be able to see the world for what it really is? Would we not be amazed ourselves? The only way to do so is to find out for ourselves.
- Grande, Reyna. The Distance Between Us. New York: Washington Square Press, 2012. Print.