I may be late to the game here but I only heard this term a couple of weeks ago. A quick visit to Wikipedia suggests that:
Consensus reality is that which is generally agreed to be reality, based on a consensus view.
It very soon goes on to say:
Throughout history this has also raised a social question: “What shall we make of those who do not agree with consensus realities of others, or of the society they live in?”
This is a huge topic to add to this Thinking About series of blog posts. There is the consensus reality of small groups, of cultures, of trends, of religions, of a wider society, of countries, and of continents, and they are changing all of the time. As I watch the news or read the morning paper I sometimes walk straight into what appears to be a consensus reality, but one with which I don’t agree. Then I will find that the consensus reality of my alternate view is the consensus reality of a different group.
With the rise of Web 2.0 there has been no lack of opinions, mine included. With Facebook, Twitter, and blogs we have more opportunity now to voice our opinions than ever before. We can comment on posts and disagree, we can tweet our opinions, or post them up as Facebook status updates (I’m quite often overwhelmed by the noise it creates and need regular breaks where I leave them all alone for a while). Look through your Facebook News Feed and you will see the consensus reality of your chosen friends. There will, of course, be some things that you don’t agree with, but if your Feed is full of things you disagree with that is quite unusual. One thing is for sure, that Feed, and the opinions expressed, is not reality in its entirely. I have a lot of Pagan friends (funnily enough) and thus my Feed contains posts expressing a Pagan view of life. If I was of another spiritual path my feed would look quite different.
There is a pressure to conform to consensus realities, whether they are wider society-held views, or smaller group ones. I had a poster when I was a kid about walking to the beat of a different drum. A way of being I still hold dear. I’m quite happy to disagree with a consensus reality, but don’t always feel the need to express that disagreement out loud. I’m happy to hold my views to myself. Sometimes. I am human.
I think the point of this rather rambling article is that consensus realities are not fact. They are views held by groups of people of varying size, and we hold onto them as fact at our peril. Trends we see from politics to Paganism are simply the shifting of consensus realities. I say hold onto your own consensus reality if it is valuable to you. If hard facts come along to challenge you then by all means explore how that might change things, but never simply surrender to an emerging consensus reality. To me they feel like the mob-rule of opinions.
Always walk to the beat of your own drum.