We have free will, with which we can choose what to believe. We can choose to only see what is in front of us, but we can also choose to believe things about which we have no proof. When the latter consistently ignores reality, we venture into la-la land.
Reality is the only view of the world that can possibly hang together in a consistent way. Anything else will show a discontinuity somewhere, which will unravel any reasoning or rationale based upon it.
For so much of the world, we don't really know what is the truth, but just accept that mostly the world will carry on, continuing to do the things that it did on all the previous days, with only some minor variations to make us notice that something is changing. We then rely on those whose job it is to inform us, like news outlets, scientists and others, to fill in the reality gaps with information that makes it still all hang together for us.
Unfortunately, reality started taking much more of a back seat in mainstream journalism when the circumstances around Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky were being released by bloggers who did not wait for corroboration, so we now have much more of the 'release now, maybe retract later' mentality. While that item was true, the mainstream media has itself to blame for failing to stand up for integrity since then, so allowing their reputations to wane in the onslaught against them from those who have no qualms about ignoring reality altogether.
Reality is our fallback, because it is something we can reasearch and check for ourselves, though that can be a rather involved and time-intensive process. But, it is the assurance that there is the potential to verify perceptions that we trust in.
Ever since we could ponder upon what was not directly related to providing our basic needs, like about how we came to be, theories have been put forward and many have supported them without proof.
This is the basis for religions and their scriptures, as well as political and other ideologies. The central similarity about these is that they are all based upon opinion, which may or may not be true, and which are usually largely unprovable. Yet many believe them, some parts in their own way, but mostly subscribe to the bulk of the belief set of such ideologies. This makes life easier for adherents, as it makes for a lot less brain strain, because a lot of situations in life then have a prescribed course of action, saving the believers from having to think through things from scratch.
Such mass-accepted ideologies are usually based upon the teachings of one or a few people, and while they are around, people can get clarification of how they apply it to their current situations. Later on, when new situations arise, and the originators are no longer around, others, supposedly well versed in the basic principles of the ideology, extend or clarify the teaching. How else could such things be handled?
When those who extend the ideology do not know the material well, or have their own agenda, the original ideology might be improved, but largely the ideology is currupted or perverted, and instead of being a way for people to manage their world, it becomes a way for a few to control a lot of people in a way that benefits them. People who do such manipulating have usually been able to demonstrate how what they want done fits into the ideology, so allaying the natural tendency of people to be suspicious.
All religions and political ideologies have had local variants, guided by a local religious or political leader, though many seemed to end up having only a resemblence to the original in name only, such has been the amount of ongoing manipulation involved.
Until the printing press came along, such variants tended to remain local, but afterwards, every person could propound their own variant or interpretation, in willful ignorance of the basic tenets or principles of the ideology they supposedly espoused. Of course, readers could choose what to believe, but they now had access to a variance of opinion, and not just what their local community believed.
Come the internet and the exponential expansion of opinion, that in order to be heard above the noise, authors have espoused many twisted ideologies, or even downright lied. At the other end, readers have been able to choose what they want to believe, no matter how off the planet.
The outcome of all this is that there has been an expansion of the number of people making choices without much reference to reality, but purely based upon what they choose to believe, often making them more at risk of being led astray, just because their thinking doesn't do the reality-checking required to ensure their actions will lead to realistic outcomes.
La-la land has arrived!
Now, an opinion is a fact, by merely being stated, but the subject of an opinion can be quite incorrect, or even outright fantasy, as there is no inherent mechanism to force an opinion to be true.
However, it is the conflating of the fact of having an opinion as somehow validating the subject of an opinion that is creating a huge number of alternate views of the world that vie with reality for the attention of each person. Some choose to limit what they let in of all that information, just to avoid overload. The problems occur when what they let in is just a lot of opinions that belie the complexity of the modern world, and pretend that we can just do with a much more simplistic view of it.
That that simplification is at the expense of consideration of others means that the needs of those others become less worthy and thus those others can be disregarded. An easy rationale for disenfranchisement and alienation. Until opinions are recognised properly as a possible source of garbage in-garbage out reasoning faults, people will keep justifying successively unreal versions of fake reality, which, as we can see, are distorting those formally reliable sources we used to use for reality.
The galloping rate at which information is intruding into our lives tends to swamp us with a whole lot more that we could ever think about.
Perhaps this glut of information may make our own needs and desires seem inconsequential, compared to what others are going through. Thus we may underrate our own needs, sometimes to the point of undermining our ability to feel empowered to make changes. However, most people will only go so far with that attitude, and at some point will push back, and demand that they be given more consideration.
Thus, while the underlying conditions for change had been brewing for decades, 2016 finally saw the rise of the opinion agenda, where what people want is the most important consideration, and anything stopping them getting it is interfering with their freedom. The reality of their situation becomes secondary, if really considered at all, and whatever they did to create their own circumstances is considered irrelevant.
The main problem with focussing on opinions is that they don't really give us a means of solving the problems, other than to demand it of others, and perhaps misguidedly of those that made essentially empty promises of false solutions, just because they said they knew what was needed.
Opinionated people do appear to be up front, assertive and in control, but rarely have the thorough grounding in reality to make lasting and meaningful improvements to people's lives, just because making such changes involves a lot more than some token symbol of change, but instead requires the cooperation and good will of a lot more people to put the deep infrastructure in place that guarantees that the changes will endure and provide lasting benfits and support.
A lot happened in 2016 that seemed to turn all what was considered normal on its head, but what happened is a result of chasm in life outlook that has been developing for decades, if not centuries.
2016 saw the clash of opinion versus reality come to the fore, deepening divisions in societies as those favouring opinions tended to want to discount anything that required them be respectful. Conversely, those espousing focussing on reality tended to discount their opponents, merely on the basis that what they were upset about was not really valid, totally ignoring the fact of their being upset, and thus totally underestimating their ability to change outcomes in the political arena.
Those favouring opinion seem to be ignoring that they are constantly being lied to, taking such double-think, to use George Orwell's contrarian phrase, to be as good as true. Thus, they are setting themselves up to be even more disappointed, as those who they have elected just serve their own needs, just like many of those they supposedly were going to get rid of. The swamp just got filled with the biggest alligators around, and none of them give a damn about those who wanted it all to change. A case of fooling some of the people all of the time, but in this case, those being fooled want to be.
Fortunately, reality will eventually cause all the lies of the opinion-pushers to be exposed for what they are, and undo a lot of the nonsense being spouted, though not before many more have been hurt due to their unfounded trust in unreality and their own delusions. La-la land cannot guarantee beneficial outcomes, as very little will be done to alleviate the conditions that it promised to reverse. If those making the false promises carry out their selfish agenda, the conditions for those sucked in will get worse, as the resources needed to make things better will have been squandered.