More Anti-Randomness

Just to belabor the point a bit more: true randomness is not a thing. Even in computer-programming, randomness is only ever approximated, typically using a pseudo-random computational method. And beyond that, randomness is usually constrained even further by a set of rules — for instance, if a music-playlist was truly random, there’s a chance you’d hear the same song five times in row (random is random) — but instead, there are constraints in place that disallow a song to be repeated before all other songs in the list have been played.

So the random things we believe are happening are not really random — we’re being tricked into feeling as though randomness exists. Why? Because surprises are fun. If you could predict all the actions of your opponent, you’re no longer playing a game, you’re dancing a choreographed routine. Why is “random” even an option on music-playlists? Obviously because we enjoy it when our routine varies — we enjoy experiencing the element of surprise.

Similarly, the circumstances we experience in life are well-designed surprises, not randomness at work. Randomness is birds regularly flying into your head, buildings collapsing unexpectedly, meteors crashing into your car, your oven exploding, your knee joint now bending the opposite way, clouds forming into the shape of your mom, your great-great grandfather attending your graduation, electricity shooting out of the socket — yet we don’t really experience randomness — do we.

What we experience are surprises that conform to a certain set of constraints. Narratives can’t happen in a world comprised of pure randomness — yet where do we so often find ourselves — but deeply involved in narrative after narrative. Narratives are literally the opposite of randomness, they’re manufactured stories that utilize well-designed surprises to entertain and delight. There is just no denying that this world is a cleverly crafted work of fiction. And that’s a good thing, because true-randomness sucks.

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