The concept of a simulated reality or an alternative reality has been popular in science fiction since the earliest days of the genre. Either the protagonist falls though a portal into an alternative reality, usually similar to his own, or he discovers that he is living in a simulated reality controlled by others. The goal in both scenarios is to discover the actual reality and who is behind the deception.
Inevitably, that is the point of the alternative reality. The point is to deceive people so they do not notice something important to the deceivers. The movie The Matrix put this to good use by having the protagonist wake from a computer simulation to learn that he had been living in an artificial world. That world was created by the machines that had destroyed human civilization and enslaved humanity as batteries.
The enduring popularity of The Matrix and its many concepts like red pill and blue pill is due to the fact it touched on a reality of this age. That is, many people think there is something off about this world. People are trapped in hyperreality, an inability to distinguish reality from the simulation of reality experienced online. The world of the internet and mass culture crowds out actual reality for many people.
This is, in part, why we see so many people walking around staring at their mobile device, rather than experiencing the world around them. A group of people sitting at a dinner table will be staring at their phones, maybe even texting one another, because that online reality feels more real to them than actual reality. Human relations have become entangled in the simulated online reality to the point where they come to define reality for people.
You see this with the intensely online left. This is a closed world that operates by its own internal logic, independent of reality. These are people who interact with other members of the subculture on platforms like Twitter. Their outside sources are blogs and news sites that cater to that subculture. A few years ago, someone tried to quantify this subculture and found it was a closed society. These people are immersed in a fantasy world of their own creation.
The “many false realities” problem of modern technological societies has been brought to the fore by Covid. For most people, the virus has played no role in their life, other than the disruptions to their daily life by government policy. Most people know Covid to be local politicians giving speeches about something that may not even exist, while imposing restrictions that have no connection to reality.
On the other hand, the people in the government offices have experienced Covid as a genuine national emergency. It has been their war. Not a private war, but one shared with the other people in the government offices. They check numbers and listen to the latest reports from experts. Even though they are safe and warm, they are sure there is a war raging in the streets to defeat this terrible virus.
In the United States, this divergent reality has been made even more plain by the fact that many states did not put on the VR goggles and play Covid. Florida bypassed the mask and lockdown stuff and simply took some reasonable steps to make sure the hospitals had what they needed to treat the sick. Everyone else went about their lives as if Covid was just a bad flu season.