We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Hyperreality?

By Garry Crystal
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Although there is some debate about the exact definition, hyperreality is generally defined as a condition in which what is real and what is fiction are blended together so that there is no clear distinction between where one ends and the other begins. It is a postmodern philosophy that deals in part with semiotics, or the study of the signs that surround people in everyday life and what they actually mean. French sociologist and philosopher Jean Baudrillard researched hyperreality to note how humans were starting to accept simulated versions of reality. As the line between what is real and what is an altered representation became blurred, he questioned if anything was truly real in the age of mass media.

To understand how something real can be blended with that which is imagined, the example of a royal crown can be used. The king's crown symbolizes his title and power; the crown itself is meaningless, but it has come to take on the meaning that society has given it as a representation of the monarchy. The reality of the crown and the hyperreality of what it stands for — wealth, power, fame — are inextricably interwoven.

In the modern world, much of "reality" is mediated in some way. Information is edited and packaged into news programs, so what is real is often processed and shaped to fit a particular narrative structure. In hyperreality, the copy becomes more valuable than the real thing, and what something symbolizes is more important than what the thing actually is. How the use of money has changed is a useful example of this, as what was once an exchange of two things with similar value — the barter of two objects of equal value, for example, or the exchange of precious metals for goods — has become the trading of digital ones and zeros with a credit or debit card for goods, the price of which may have little connection to their actual value.

Hyperreality can also take the form of reality by proxy, in which a person takes someone else's version of reality on board as his or her own. Some people who watch soap operas for a long time develop a view of interpersonal relationships that is skewed by how the soap opera writers depict the characters, for example. Some people start to relate to these extreme dramatic relationships as being real, and begin to judge social relationships and situations by this heightened lens of reality.

Some theorists argue that more and more people in modern culture exist in a state of hyperreality, often becoming more engaged with the hyperreal world than with the real world. Media images, the Internet, computer games, and virtual worlds are taking people out of the real world more often and for longer periods of time than ever before. As a result, their connection with the real world becomes blurred with the unreal, and it may become more important to take on the symbols than to achieve the reality; some people, for example, may believe that they can be rock stars or celebrities just by acting as if they are.

Hyperreality is exploited in advertising for almost everything, using a pseudo-world to enable people to be the characters they wish to be. Advertising sells the public through strong, desirable images, and many consumers buy into the brand's point of view and products. If the consumer wants to be seen as a sex icon, he or she should buy the most expensive jeans as worn or designed by his or her favorite celebrity. Although the clothing itself has limited actual value, they symbolize a state of being that some consumers want.

Every time a person enters a large shopping area with a certain theme, he or she may be entering a hyperreal world. Theme parks such as Disneyworld® or the casinos in Las Vegas are hyperrealities in which a person can get lost for as long as his or her money lasts. There is no reality in these places, only a construct that is designed to represent reality, allowing the person to exist temporarily in a world outside of what is real.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Link to Sources
Discussion Comments
By steveip — On Nov 03, 2015

I think we must be careful to distinguish between what's just an illusion and what's hyperreal. When people go to Disneyland, everyone knows it's fake' it's an illusion. When you leave, you know it's over. The simulacra Baudrillard was talking about that produces hyperreality is more subtle; it has reality within it so we are fooled into thinking it's real. For instance, the images shown on TV news.

By anon315009 — On Jan 21, 2013

From what I remember from reading Bauldrilard, hyperreality goes farther than confusing or blending the 'real' with the symbol which represents it; it involves creating a symbol or set of signifiers which actually represent something that does not

actually exist -- like Santa Claus.

his is what marks him by many as a post-structuralist or post modernist, the latter two terms representing modes of thought inferring an ability to distinguish 'the map from the territory' where Bauldrillard writes instead of a map representing a territory that does not exist. The metaphor I'm using here is a paraphrase of one of his own writings.

By anon139662 — On Jan 05, 2011

When was this article written? I'd like to reference it please. thanks, Phil

By anon97417 — On Jul 19, 2010

The definition of hyperreality posted above struck me as so profound I made a RAP out of it. It's paraphrased slightly but says almost exactly what it's defined as above, word for word! I want to thank the wise folk here at wise geek and hope they'll enjoy the fruits of their labor on my behalf. Look up shademachine to check out the video.

By anon58654 — On Jan 03, 2010

It seems as though the entire western culture is hyperreality. Instead of grass, we roll out turf, we plant hedges around gardens. None of it is real, it's a hyperreal nature, that we've created.

By anon54491 — On Nov 30, 2009

reality is what it is and hyperreality is reality but is "enhanced", changed, or altered by the person perceiving it.

By kiksss — On Apr 20, 2009

What is the relation between reality and hyperreal?

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.