In the early stages of human development, people had a much different lifestyle and practiced hunter gathering. At the time, there was no agriculture, so people had to go and hunt if they wanted to get food. This was very demanding physically. Because AMAB(Assigned Male at Birth) people were more likely than AFAB(Assigned Female at Birth) to have the physical and mental characteritics that would be effective for hunting(Testosterone can lead to increased muscle mass, lack of empathy, sweatiness, and agression, all which would be helpful for hunting), and because AFAB people were the only people that could have children, and typically did not have the same kind of hormonal/physical sex characteristics that would be advantageous, it was effective for AMAB people to hunt, while AFAB people did other things, like gathering, caring for people, having children, and other important tasks needed to create and sustain life for the people living with the group.
This kind of sex based specialization led to societal roles that we now know as gender. Because preforming that the role based on the corresponding sex was effective for ensuring that food and children were in good supply, there was societal pressure for each sex to preform their assigned roles. This is what gender is. It is essentially an assigned job expected for you to do, based on your sex. However this expectation of certain jobs, or gender roles if you will, quickly creates problems. Gender becomes an opressive force, preventing people from being able to self-actualize and live their life how they please. Those who do not submit to gender roles are attacked, whether through emotional abuse or physical violence.
Children are raised to consider their (typically sex based) gender as a part of their identity, regardless as to whether they truly want the roles, and so retreat from the roles becomes an attack on their personal identity itself. In this way, gender and gender roles are able to be passed on through threat of emotional pain, violence, and loss of identity and community. They are also passed on by appeal to tradition.
Those seeking to retain the gender binary (The genders of Man and Woman) will say that things have always been this way, therefore they must have validity out of their consistent use, to imply that if they were bad, people would have abandoned them already. This appeal to tradition is also a hidden threat. It implies that by rejecting your gender roles or gender as a concept, you reject your community and their cultural ideas. This is also an implication that you are defying the authority of your parents, who have power over your life as your caretaker until you are able to care for yourself.
This appeal to tradition is also made stronger by the human desire for homeostasis and safety. To change the cultural idea of gender, one has to change the way they act within society, they have to face backlash against those who do not accept new ideas, and they have to develop their identity and sense of reality on their own, something that is much harder when people don't believe your ideas. This kind of change is painful and takes lots of effort, and because people avoid pain and effort, ideas that require cultural change are less likely to be pursued or expressed. In this way, traditions are continued, and new ideas are quashed.
An additional way traditions and their corresponding ideas are maintined is through the idea of being "crazy." Ideas and people that are not socially acceptable are considered "crazy." This sort of statement has two purposes, one is two state that those ideas or those people are not ones that the person wants participate with, and that those deemed "crazy" are going to be abandoned and alone or hurt by other members of society or by themselves, if they do not conform to the ideas and customs of that society. The second is to mark the "crazy" person as an unreliable source of ideas, the implication that nothing they believe can be true due to some sort of mentall illness, character, or genetic flaw. In this way attention can be drawn away from the "crazy" person and their ideas, as they have been marked as a source of danger to other members of society.
This agressive negative reshaping of the identity can have negative effects, such as the belief that what the person saying is true, and therefore the "crazy" person must isolate themselves from society to avoid hurting the rest fo society, loved ones, or themselves. This leads to loneliness, depression, and worse mental health. The forced reshaping of other's identity can be used to make what was projected onto the person become a reality, even if it is not true. In this way, it is still an effective means of control. The person accused may realize that the accusation is ridiculous, but eventually the person's previous anxiety and insecurity may make them begin to question themselves, leading to a cycle of worsened self esteem. The lack of mental health caused by the end results of such repeated interactions can prevent the person from stating their core beliefs to an unnacepting person or society.
This is not only a stated interaction, but an underlying threat in all social interaction as a whole. Social interaction is a game of attempting to connect and communicate under the threat of loss of identity through negative social and internal reactions. The threat of being percieved of as unworthy for social interaction or not mentally sound, extends from society around you, to the people around you, and eventually into the self conscience, where the abstraction of societal acceptance, morality and identity, comes into play.
Tradition is the continual caving to the fear of change. It is the representation of the fears of those with the power to enforce and disseminate cultural practices. The powerful surround themselves in aesthetic beauty constantly as a tool of idealogical force, essentially an artistic manipulation of those they have power over. This works in the same way as the Pavlovs Dog Experiment. In the experiment, the researcher would ring a bell then give the dogs in the experiment a treat. This process would be repeated, until the bell became associated with the treats and positive emotions. Eventually, the researcher would be able to simply ring the bell, and the dogs would begin salivating, expecting food, despite bells having no relation to food whatsoever.
In the same way, those with power surroud themselves with artistic beauty in order to get the people under their control to associate them and their ideas with the positive emotions evoked by that artistic beauty. In this way, the negative aspects of their control and ideas can be covered up, like a rotten apple coated with caramel. By doing this, the ideas of those that have the power to spread them, don't even have to be good or true to become mainstays in the cultural conciousness, because the people are so sedated by the artistic beauty of those in power.
This is how gender is maintained as well. Those in power, typically rich, white, able-bodied, neurotypical, cisgender, straight, religious, societally attractive and men, are able to continue the gender roles by coating their ideas motivated by personal gain and pleasure in aesthetic beauty. For example, in the 50s in the United States, there was the idea of the housewife. In reality, being a traditional 50's housewife is demanding work, (Including physical and emotional work, such as childcare, cooking, cleaning, parenting, therapy, and more.) is not a job that is respected by society accordingly, restricts freedom, reduces your self esteem, places you below your presumed husband, restricts you to a sexuality and gender that may not be yours, expects you to submit to emotional abuse and rape from the husband, and makes you do unpaid labor. (This is slavery) Regardless of that, men in power were able to manipulate and coerce women into that position for their own convinience, ego, and sexual gratification. This was done by using aesthetic beauty. Advertisements, television, and literature flooded the cultural conciousness with art about the housewife, appealing to the idea of stability, comfortable or pleasurable submission, motherhood, children, and physical beauty, such as the "white picket fence" or the beauty of the women featured in the gender role propoganda. In this way the gender roles were worsened for women, while getting many of them to accept or at least swallow the cultural ideas, by getting the women to associate being a housewife with those genuinely positive things.
Living a life as a person is to feel separate from the universe, to see yourself as its own being because you have your own perception which is a self-meaningful reality. To die is to return to the reality of being inseparable to the universe. You go from perceiving the world through the lens of your own experiences as “your reality.” But most people also recognize that they are part of a universe with laws and rules and are contained within that universe as a larger reality. But because you do not experience the universe the way you might your body, we cannot experience that reality in its completion, and our perception of it is limited to our circumstance. Therefore, life is basically an experience of the two realities, the reality of the self, and the reality of existence.
We are incapable of observing the whole of physical reality, due to our short lifespan and limited perception of the natural world. So reality is an entirely different experience for each system (organisms, viruses, machines and tools that detect input) that can perceive input from physical reality. We will only learn, see, and experience so much in our lives. Each person will have a completely unique experience based on what they can take as input from the physical reality. We are incapable of learning everything, but we can learn more and more about the physical universe through observation, even though our perception is limited and not always reliable.
We also commonly create our own realities, fiction, thoughts, stories, ideas. They are still realities even if they are made up, because we create them as a part of our reality. The contents of a fantasy book may have many things that do not exist in what we know as the physical reality, but nonetheless people may experience the fictional and explore it in a similar way to the physical reality, by learning and experiencing the systems of the respective reality. A person undergoing a delusion still experiences it as a “real” part of their reality in that it affects them and them being affected will affect the physical reality. For example, a person engrossed in a good book may stay up too late and sleep through their class in the morning, affecting the physical reality.
The concept of some sort of innate truth or “realness” to the physical reality is muddy. The “realness” of reality is not agreed upon. It’s similar to how an idea may be significant to one group of people, while to the other, it is not. There is no way to prove the “realness” of the physical reality, it is basically an emotional expression. To people that feel more emotionally attached to the physical reality we know, those people would argue they believe it is more “real. If someone does not feel emotionally attached to the physical reality, they might say it is not “real.” The word “real” is often used to assign value to something. For example, a “real” diamond is typically associated with more worth. If you work an undesirable job, someone might say to you “get a real job.” Even though on the literal level the job you are working for exists in reality, to them it is not significant enough for the effort and so they don’t consider it valuable or “real.” “Real”-ness is basically a statement of something’s relativistic personal value.
I think discussions about reality might be better served if we discussed it based on the assumption that the concept of something being more real is a personal emotional one. It would be like trying to scientifically measure style or beauty, which are qualitative measurements. For example, a nihilist most likely feels emotionally disinvested in their personal experience of reality, (what they perceive the physical reality as) and therefore feels life is meaningless, because existence lacks value in their experience.