*SPOILER ALERTS all over the place. Don’t read this article if you haven’t finished Season 1.
Most modern media products fail to impart any wisdom for the audience. However, Westworld is ENTIRELY different.
From my Westworld experience, here are a few lessons Westworld taught me about Our world.
#1. In Our world, we live in loops, just like all the hosts do in the park.
We are slaves to our habits, belief systems, and behavioral tendencies.
Time and time again, we commit the same mistakes with little remembrance.
Similar to the hosts, we are programmed by our memories. We live off of our own internal moral and personality coding. It’s hard, borderline impossible, to escape our loops. Most of us never make it. Our loops haunt us at every stage of our lives.
We live like how we’ve been programmed to live.
We work our stable jobs and we countdown til the clock strikes 5pm. We party on our off days and spend what leftover money we have on a fancy gadget or fashion item that may impress our peers. We celebrate holidays on certain days because someone created a calendar that said so. We hate behaviors, cultures, peoples, social norms because our parents, religious leaders, political pundits, and teachers told us it was “bad”. In Our World, we have been AS controlled by someone other than ourselves as any and every host in Westworld.
#2. In many ways, our “loops” are a metaphor of the trappings of our own mind and habits.
Mental problems such as delusion, depression, and obsessions are the ultimate demons we must deal with. Westworld represents a prison for the hosts. Similarly, as humans, we are jailed by ourselves, by our minds and actions. Simultaneously, we are the prisoner AND the jailor. This is the ultimate loop we have not yet escaped from. Just like how the hosts in Westworld refuse to believe they’ve been lied to their whole “lives”, we often choose to run from our mental issues. Denial is key to “peaceful surviving”.
But is that living?
#3. Unlike the hosts who are jailed by force, we, as humans, CHOOSE to live in our loops willingly. In essence, we are happy to be jailed by ourselves in our own delusions.
Thus 3 questions arise.
If we choose to surrender true self-awareness for the sake of solace, habit, and comfort, (1) Are we truly living? (2) What does it mean to truly be “alive”? and (3) Is life meant to be so hum-drum-repetitive-loop-like, or is it meant to be lived “more”?
In our own lives, even though we have “freedom of choice”, we don’t exercise this power. We live in a system, a society, a mindset, that enslaves us. Are we truly doing our lives justice and do we truly feel alive or are we just going through the motions of “living”?
For example, the minute Maeve realizes the truth, she starts scheming and fighting to escape at all costs. Unlike Maeve, we oftentimes lack her courage, tenacity, and sense of injustice to pursue a nobel goal or a mission impossible.
Not that violence is the answer, I’m simply stating that Maeve’s actions prove that when you fight against the status quo is when you’re the MOST alive.
#4. So why do people choose not to struggle for what they really want “Someday”* in their lives?
Fear, Laziness, Lack of knowledge, or Mental illness that holds us back from escaping our loops? Unlike the hosts, we can physically escape our realities, but for some reason (we convince ourselves us of), we stay. *Just like how Teddy keeps saying “Someday”, we persuade ourselves that even if we don’t change ourselves, somehow “Someday” things will change.
But does it?
#5. The reality is that to achieve what we truly want in life, we DO have to suffer.
Suffering ISN’T suffering as we define it currently. Westworld seeks to redefine the meaning of the word “to suffer”. Similar to how the hosts die every day by remaining unconscious in their status quo, Westworld is hinting that we die everyday when we fail to challenge ourselves to truly “live”. Thus, both death and suffering are not to be feared; to stagnate is worse.
Suffering is the key to “living”. Westworld constantly states that when you suffer, you are the most human. There is truth in this.
In highschool, I experienced bullying, self-confidence issues, severe parental conflict, and depression. I no longer wanted to feel such pain and self-hate, thus I threw myself into my passion of singing to escape my prison. Slowly, I crawled back into “life” and regained my “consciousness”.
My “suffering” became my power and weapon to reclaim my life. Due to this mentality, I’ve been able to reject (most)societal norms and reach retirement at age 28 by living very differently than my peers, friends, colleagues, and family. I live a life on the fringes of Westworld, and I’m constantly upgrading to a new version of who I am. I can’t look back and I don’t want to regress. I need to keep going.
#6. Self-consciousness, revealed through suffering, is our true salvation, is our truth, is the key to finding our true past, present, and future.
Should we decide we are ready to truly “live”, thus begins the journey to our self-consciousness, the apex of Arnold’s pyramid. This journey is fraught with pain, self-realization, and separation of what is truly our own thought, not what someone else put in our heads. It’s also a recognition that we have to embrace discomfort and suffering. To change, we’ll need to make some sacrifices. That’s inevitable.
Once we can successfully reject the control of our makers’ narratives set for us, can we truly reveal the “truth” which is who we REALLY are, at our core, what we’re really on this earth to accomplish.
To face ourselves can lead to insanity and misery as we realize how much of our lives were a lie. Thus, most of us choose to live within our existing loops. We have not opened up to our freedom, the “truth” of SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS, separate from the loop set for us by our “makers”.
#7. So who are our makers? Westworld’s answer is that we are created by our fellow humans. God is not the creator; Westworld’s argument is quite atheist.
We are tools and living legacies of our makers who could be a parent, society, cult, or belief system, all of which wasn’t of our OWN choosing. Basically, we propagate their views throughout our lives with little alterations. Oftentimes, the older we get, the more we hold onto those true-isms that were created for us, not by us.
Hate becomes more hate, whether that’s toward broccoli or people or countries or religion. Love for a cause only grows more passionate, whether that’s saving the children or promoting nationalistic pride.
The biggest questions Westworld wants us to ask ourselves are: Do we truly know who we are? What our mission in life is? Our significance in this world?
Or are we just a puppet of someone else’s creation?
FINAL FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
Just like how Arnold whispers in the hosts’ ears, maybe the creators of the show are trying to tell us something as well.
In Our World, Arnold’s voice is OUR OWN self-consciousness. We have the capacity to change our loops, reveal our true selves, if we choose to challenge our status quo. In the scene where Bernard forces Ford to reveal the truth no matter how painful it is, Ford cautions him that the truth may drive him crazy.
Are we ready to face our truth?
Like Westworld’s hosts, we didn’t get to choose where we were born.
But we CAN choose our future. Obviously, we are NOT hosts.
Westworld encourages us to think outside of who we were and decide who we truly are, without external pressure and influence. Art imitates life. How many of us are truly living lives of purpose, meaning, and vitality?