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  • Writer's pictureKate Hill

What Does it Mean to Manifest?

To manifest is to turn a thought into a reality. The concept’s religious origins have influenced American culture since the 1860’s when the term “Manifest Destiny” was coined to signify the hopeful possibilities of Western expansion. Nowadays, society has strayed from its colonial roots in exchange for modernization. As such,“manifesting” has a different connotation. Is the term still tried and true?

“I know a lot of different religions use manifesting…I think manifesting is the same thing as praying…but I also hear that people use it with astrology,” said freshman Ava Stopczynski. “There are definitely religious aspects to it…but I think [manifesting] is more along the lines of personal beliefs—you’re hoping [something] becomes true because you’ve put it into the universe as many times as you possibly could,” reinforced senior Tia Stopczynski.

What does manifesting look like in the digital age? Social media is heavily driven by vanity, one’s indulgence of their own self-image. The concept of manifesting sets one on the hopeful path to achieve whatever they desire, making it a sensational social media trend—especially amidst the new year as people falter to achieve resolutions. Social media has arguably made manifesting a superficial ideology. Tia said, “I hate the [posts] on TikTok that are like, ‘Like and subscribe for it to come true!’ I can’t stand those.” Even so, she said, “I will watch them,” proving her point that, “I think TikTok’s bringing more attention to manifestation, but I [also] think it’s making some people lose their appeal to [the concept] because [influencers] are just using it for clout.”

The influencer tactic seems to be effective. “I get very anxious…about TikTok’s version of [manifesting],” said freshman Anna Yoder. “It’s like, ‘If you do this, good news will come to your dad.’ I skip it, and then my brain is like, ‘Oh, my God. What if something bad happens to my dad?’” Yoder was referring to videos of this sort, randomly recommended by the algorithm:

These types of posts are everywhere, easily seen across all social media platforms.

(The Hollywood Reporter via Twitter)

Companies even use the ideology as an advertising ploy: (via Instagram)

The prevalence of manifesting begs the question of its effectiveness. Yoder said, “I remember the day that the cast list came out. I was very anxious…On the way home, I saw a TikTok…that was like, ‘When everyone’s looking at the cast list, and that one freshman gets the lead—a Disney princess-type role.’” She spoke about this memory as the current freshman lead in MHS’s upcoming spring musical production of The Princess and the Mattress. “I kinda think TikTok might be listening to you sometimes…It might be coincidences that you don’t notice until you think about it,” she summarized.

These “coincidences” can be consequential—a direct result of the invasive qualities of social media that are overlooked by its convenience. “Social media-related terms, algorithms measure what is being talked about, how swift it's being talked about, and if an influencer is talking about, among other levels of discussion,” reported ABC 13 Eyewitness News. For example, “...your behavior online is used for Facebook advertising.” This is no cause for alarm, but “ should inform social media users about data collection,” noted the station.

Manifesting and dreaming are commonly interchangeable words; both take action to ensure a desired result. Ava, who is presently “manifesting towards getting into Notre Dame” when she graduates high school, said, “I have a Post-it note in my room, and so that any time I’m feeling down…I can look at it everyday…and then keep myself moving…”

But, as is the case with all dreams, the danger is that it won’t come true. “There’s also a scary aspect towards manifesting,” said Tia, “because if you’re manifesting toward something that you want, but in the end it's something that you don’t need, and it’s bad for you, did you put that on yourself?” “I won’t be mad at myself for manifesting [my goal],” assured Ava adding that, “ gives [me] a goal.”

It appears that manifesting is a topic that, for many, mixes equal amounts of philosophy with realism—forging enough hope to be believable. Yoder best explained the psychology behind manifesting. She said, “When you’re thinking about manifesting something, I guess, maybe you don’t notice, but you may, yourself, work harder to get that thing.”

Whether used for public relations, clout, or as a way to spiritually better oneself, manifesting comes down to “a gray area question,” said Tia. She asked, “Is manifesting really you putting out [a wish] into the universe, [does] the universe already have your life situated, or is it [determined] by the choices that you, personally, make [which] get you to where you are?” There is no right or wrong answer. Similar to photography and any creative, unconventional art form or way of thinking, manifesting is all about perspective and what one chooses to take from it.

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