The Reality of Fiction

The Reality of Fiction

In Jonathan Gottschall’s article, “Why fiction is good for you”, he speaks on the benefits of fiction in modern society. When arguing for fiction, he states, “Fiction enhances our ability to understand other people; it promotes a deep morality that cuts across religious and political creeds.” With this, one can see how fiction can help emotionally develop us. When comparing fiction to reality, we humans take advantage of that comparison and use it to understand the world in more specific ways. On the contrary, when Gottschall looks at the negatives often associated with fiction, he states, “… fiction’s happy endings seem to warp our sense of reality. They make us believe in a lie: that the world is more just than it actually is.” Throughout this article, Gottschall continues comparing the positives and the side effects that fiction brings to us; leaning more towards the benefits it can bring. 

From my perspective, I’ve single-handedly seen and experienced the influence that fiction has on people. From deep-dive societal arguments to seemingly small moral beliefs and values, I have gained an understanding of myself through fictional worlds and stories. Fiction is a very complex idea—taking reality and morphing it into something we’ve never seen before. Although most of us have grown up with fiction around us, it’s gaining more and more popularity as the years go forward, which makes me wonder; could this be the effect of a poorly built society? In my opinion, fiction is good in moderation, but if we begin to be deluded into it, it will affect our reality poorly. 

In the past ten years, many advancements have been discovered as a result of technology—things like artificial intelligence, monumental medical discoveries, and more extensive space exploration. On the downside of these technologies, I can see the other trends in technological advancements further producing false expectations of our reality. Things like TikTok, Instagram, and other popular social media platforms tend to pose our reality as something it’s not. We compare ourselves to these people’s lives when in reality, it can all be manipulated to seem a certain way. 

When reading romance, young people especially are taken under this fallacy that love is this wonderful commonality of our society, and that it is treated with poise. However, this only ups the standards that these hopeless romantics dream to be their own love story. Another example of this false reality is when we read or watch stories about the greater good seemingly always winning in the end. Even Gottschall mentions this in his article, stating, “Readers learn by association that if they are more like protagonists, they’ll be more likely to live happily ever after.” As these consumers of fiction read and watch all of these villain versus hero stories, they will begin to assume the real world works just the same. However, as we see on the daily, things like organizations that are trying to raise awareness about difficult topics or raising money for their cause, in general, don’t end up reaching their main goals.  This proves that the good does not always outweigh the bad, as fiction usually attempts to pose as reality. 

Further thinking into this topic, the question arose for me: if we had a strong foundation in society, would we really need fiction to help our mental focus? Considering the faults of our government and our society’s constant need to fight, it proves that people need some form of fiction as an escape. Some examples of this would be the political warfare in the world, some current examples being the Ukrainian and Russian war, but also could be the injustices faced by different groups of people in America (i.e. slavery, the difference in the social classes, etc). In my experience, when the world gets to be too much, cracking open a book and just drowning in it tends to take away most if not all of the stress. I’ve personally read many dystopian novels that have had many parallels with our reality. It not only opened up my mind to the reality of our reality—something I’d never understand if I only heard that assertion—but it also helped me understand the true power of fiction. 

Fiction to me, if put simply, is an educational tool that can help us understand existential topics and the true morality of our race. With that though, comes the complexities of the human brain, like how we process our society, how we choose to perceive the in-depth issues of our reality, and how we are sometimes blinded by these fictional realms. This topic is a difficult one to dissect, and I know that there will more than likely be people who completely disagree with my stasis, and that’s okay. One could argue that fiction is what we need to be a well-functioning society, but in contrast, fiction could also be causing us to be further blinded. I don’t mind there being opposing sides to this topic, as fiction is a multi-faceted idea, and without different perspectives, fiction would cease to exist. 


Works Cited

Gottschall, Jonathan. “Why Fiction Is Good for You – the Boston Globe.”, 29 Apr. 2012,

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