Updated: Mar 2, 2022
Reality shifting is the fictional belief that humans are capable of transferring their consciousness to other bodies that exist in unproven alternate dimensions.
The idea appears to be a novel psychological defence mechanism that gained popularity among children and teenagers as a response to the 2020 pandemic. It gained a viral foothold due to it being widely promoted on the social video sharing platform TikTok.
It is important to note that prior to 2019, there was very little discussion of reality shifting online.
The Experience of "Reality Shifting"
The anecdotal reports of the "experience of reality shifting" appear to be a series of misunderstood and misinterpreted altered psychological states, ranging from benign natural states such as imagination, hypnagogic hallucinations, vivid dreaming, lucid dreaming, and self-hypnosis, to more worrying reports of what are almost certainly symptoms of maladaptive psychology and/or undiagnosed mental health issues. "Reality shifters" incorrectly interpret these experiences and claim they are evidence of them transferring their consciousness to another universe/dimension.
Due to its viral nature, and popularity among impressionable children and teenagers, many irresponsible adult creators in the new-age sphere, decided to promote the idea of reality shifting in order to take advantage of this highly popular trend.
This led to the rapid invention of complex theories, often calling upon incorrect pseudo-scientific interpretations of quantum physics and the many-worlds theory, hybridization with other new age concepts such as "astral projection", and misrepresentations of CIA records — which, in turn, further cemented the belief among younger generations who were unaware of the nature of this misinformation and the financial motivations of these adult creators.
This combination of social "proof" and misunderstood unusual personal experiences proved to be compelling "evidence" for many young minds, and has led to a large portion of youngsters (and some vulnerable or naïve adults) accepting these irrational claims as factual.
Reality Shifting is a New Belief System
It is important to note that prior to late 2019, search analytics across the internet show very little use of the terms "reality shifting" and "reality shift", and the few examples of these phrases before 2019 are largely unrelated to the current usage of the terms or, when related, appear as a fringe concept on small new-age websites (2016 onwards).
It appears that the original seed for the current definition of "reality shifting" comes from the personal blog (24th September 2006) by a bizarre new-age author known as "Starfire Tor", a somewhat peculiar individual who claims to be a time traveller, alien abductee, and an "astral tagger".
However, this blog remained largely unheard of for a decade until, in 2016, the idea seemed to gain traction, albeit mostly insignificant and among fringe new-age websites.
Of course, the concept of travelling to other dimensions has been a popular staple of science fiction for decades, with shows such as Sliders, Quantum Leap, Fringe, Black Mirror, The Man in the High Castle, Awake, Rick and Morty, etc. all exploring this curious but fictional concept.
However, It wasn't until a TikTok influencer shared the basic tenets of the irrational concept of what is now referred to as "reality shifting" that the idea rapidly gained virality.
This can be further confirmed when looking at the current websites and YouTube channels of self-proclaimed "reality shifting experts". All of these creators shared absolutely no content discussing reality shifting prior to the year 2018, yet almost all of them claim to have lifelong experience as reality shifters.
This obvious disconnect from their claims and observable evidence clearly demonstrates barefaced deceit, and makes it obvious that these creators were simply jumping on a previously non-existent bandwagon that had suddenly gained massive popularity.
The Cult of Reality Shifting
Current discussion on reality shifting appears to occur mainly on youth-based social media platforms such as Amino and Discord, where a complex and strictly policed culture has developed. This culture firmly holds onto a rapidly evolving, yet scientifically incredibly inaccurate, belief system.
Worryingly, the culture and behaviours surrounding these groups shows many similarities with the early formation of cults. Rational rebuttals criticizing this irrational embryonic new-age belief system fall victim to "dogpiling", where large groups of believers bombard the content made by non-believers with downvotes and negative comments in an attempt to bully the creator into removing their criticisms.
Reality shifting is rapidly becoming a financial staple for many morally bankrupt adult content creators, who, taking advantage of the trusting minds of children and young teenagers, create content that further promotes this misleading and unhealthy belief system.
Unfortunately, social media platforms such as YouTube have yet to intervene in order to quell this form of misinformation and punish adult creators who are wilfully spreading misleading and potentially psychologically damaging ideas to vulnerable young minds.
A Psychological Defence Mechanism
At its core, reality shifting appears to be a phenomenon that erupted as a maladaptive response to the social isolation and psychological stresses of the 2020 pandemic.
Of course, young minds undergoing extreme stress and isolation are likely to wish that escaping to a better world would be possible.
Unfortunately, due to the unregulated nature of apps such as TikTok, this need for an escape was quickly filled by the invented concept of "reality shifting".
Reality shifting forums also offered a sense of community during a period of extreme social limitations.
Throughout history, new cults and belief systems have developed in response to events that leave individuals feeling helpless and out-of-control. It seems that reality shifting is simply the most modern example of such occurrences.
If you or a loved one has been affected by the irrational beliefs surrounding "reality shifting", it is highly recommended that you seek professional psychological help. Do not assume that it is a harmless trend, as it may be a sign of, or lead to, more serious mental health issues.
Help Fight Misinformation
The author of this article suggests that those who are concerned with social media platforms allowing the spread of misinformation such as "reality shifting" to vulnerable minds raise their complaints and concerns directly with the platforms involved; requesting more stringent safeguards, removal of misinformation, and proactive fact-checking.
The author also suggests requesting investigative research from the mainstream media to increase the pressure on social media companies to police their content.
Do your part: consider sharing this article on social media and emailing it to your favourite news outlet.
Together we can help avoid the miseducation of future generations.
Mental health support: Mind: https://www.mind.org.uk/ Mental Health America: https://www.mhanational.org/get-involved/contact-us Google Search (local results) https://www.google.com/search?q=mental+health+support+near+me
Advice and information for victims of cults:
Cult Information Centre: https://cultinformation.org.uk/
The Family Survival Trust: https://www.thefamilysurvivaltrust.org/
Google Search (local results) https://www.google.com/search?q=cult+support+charity
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