Well-oiled Machine

If I made something, I’d like if it functioned as expected. For example: if I made a chair, I’d like it to be comfortable and free of wobble. If I wrote a computer-program, I’d like it to perform without error.

If I made something that didn’t work correctly, I’d attempt to alter it until it functioned as expected. Maybe I’d add a cushion to the chair and file down the legs until they were even. Maybe I’d keep hammering away on the computer-program, chasing all the bugs away until it did what I wanted.

Likewise, perhaps whatever manufactured my existence prefers me to function as expected. Perhaps this manufacturer would attempt to alter said creation until it performed as intended.

In that regard, maybe the “good” and “bad” days I experience are the conditioning mechanism by which a creator molds his creation? There are things I value in this world and I’ve noticed that such things have been used as sources of pleasure AND pain.

For example, in one moment, my wife might yell at me, belittle me, question my very worth. But in another moment, she might make a delicious meal while telling me about something interesting she heard.

Another example: in one moment I might gaze upon my tools with complete satisfaction and lose myself in a new project. But in another moment, I might see my tools simply sitting there unused, and lament my lack of inspiration.

Another example: I might browse through the video-streaming platforms and find an awesome and engrossing show or movie to watch. Perhaps it excites my imagination for days or even weeks (or months if its a show with plenty of seasons). But sometimes when I browse the streaming apps, there’s literally nothing to watch, it’s a graveyard of dismal selections. I see the exact same titles I saw in late-1980s VHS rental shops.

And just to belabor the point: sometimes the foods I eat taste like the best versions of themselves and sometimes they taste like bizarro off-brand variants that taste nasty.

What I’m saying is this: perhaps something is attempting to manipulate my behavior through a reward/punishment system. But here’s the problem: because human-memory is so poor, I can’t connect the dots. I’m not sure what I did or didn’t do to warrant the consequences I received.

Here’s one way to conceptualize it all:

As in most games, there’s an external player controlling a character in a virtual world. But in this particular game, the player can only indirectly control his character. The character doesn’t know the overall objectives, but kinda meanders through the world via a simplistic AI system.

The player does know the objectives and tries to influence his character via in-game signs and signals. Some of these signals might be relatively direct whereas other methods of influence might be through a reward/punishment mechanism.

If the character doesn’t heed the benign signs, the player might ramp up the signal intensity, piling on rougher and rougher punishment until the character stops and does something different. And this punishment isn’t merely internal to the character by the way. Actual external circumstances will popup, utilizing the senses as antennas for annoyance and distress.

But when the character and player align in deed and purpose, good things happen for all. Well, that’s the theory anyway.