Simulated Moments

I suppose another beneficial aspect of a belief in Simulation Theory, is that it facilitates living in the present moment.

Under Simulation Theory, it’s possible that Last-Thursdayism is a real thing. In other words, the world we know and its history (as well as our own memories) are completely fabricated — having been brought into existence just last Thursday (or whenever). With that being the case, we can never be sure history ever happened thus it’d be silly to get worked-up about anything that happened in the past — in our own life or otherwise. Did my ancestors really do that!? I dunno. Did that girl really say that to me when I was fourteen!? I dunno. With reasonable doubt, you can’t convict.

Another aspect to consider is that everything is just flickering pixels. Did that guy just offend me? Well first of all, he’s just pixels and I’m just pixels. Second, he might be an NPC (non-player character) designed to challenge me. Third, he could just be another confused noob like me, so I should cut him some slack. Under Simulation Theory, we honestly don’t know who’s real and who isn’t — so why get worked-up over something stemming from colored coordinates on a three-dimensional plane.

But Rich, if we truly are in a simulation, won’t exposing it and keeping it in our thoughts hinder the feeling of immersion? Yes! And if you’re an anxiety-ridden person experiencing life too intensely, then that’s EXACTLY what you want! You need a way to distance yourself from the action and lower the intensity. Whereas if you’re having a great time already, then no, Simulation Theory isn’t for you — move along and keep doing what you’re doing.

But for those of us that are constantly worried about life, this is a philosophical belief system that makes life easier by removing the reality from reality. Once you’re convinced of Simulation Theory, the weight of the world is literally gone — it’s replaced by pixels. And there’s no fear about becoming too removed from reality — for example I’ve always known movies and video-games weren’t real yet I enjoyed them anyway. We’re always susceptible to immersion, the difference is the ease by which we come out of it.

With Simulation Theory, at anytime you notice things getting too intense, you can deconstruct your circumstances and reduce everything to pixels and realize the fabricated fiction. From there, things become manageable.

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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.

Random Lie

The funny thing is, people are always acting by faith. In a truly physical world where randomness exists, relying on ANY future occurrence is an act of faith. Driving to work or school — are the buildings going to be open today? In a random world, anything can happen. Will your form-of-transportation reach its destination? Who knows. Meeting for a lunch-date? For the most part you assume the restaurant and the other person will be there. Planning a vacation months in advance? In a random world, how is that even possible? Think of all the things that need to align for that to happen! When throwing dice, rolling a 6 for 5 times in a row doesn’t make getting another six any more or less likely — random is random.

So many people just do things with the hope that things will work out. Going to college assumes that you’ll make it through all four years and then it assumes you’ll find a lucrative career in your chosen field. Many people move with the hopes they’ll settle into a new and prosperous life in a different location — they’ll find a steady income, friends, and fit right in. So much of what people do is faith based. And if that’s the case, then there’s no way in hell that this is an actual physical reality in which circumstances happen by chance.

I’m just amazed how clueless I was. For so many years, I believed the world to be chance-based. And because of that, I assumed NOTHING. Will the school be open today? I honestly didn’t believe it until I saw people walking in. Will the car get me there today? I honestly thought there was a possibility it wouldn’t. Will my lunch-date be there today? I honestly thought no, until the moment they sat down in front of me. But life wasn’t random, everything seemed to keep following along on a prescribed path — yet I was scared because I thought random-chance was real.

It should have been obvious to me — if you simply look around you’ll notice that society is not built around chance. If it was, people wouldn’t be driving 80mph in multi-ton metal machines within inches of each other. Of course I was anxiety ridden — ANYTHING could happen at ANY time!! But I was living a lie — for whatever reason I believed in randomness and rejected any idea that suggested otherwise. Well, it sure made for an exciting time at least! A sedentary and solitary time, but exciting none the less!

It’s tough to live life while maintaining a fear-based belief system — lemme tell ya. I’ve always disliked roller-coasters, but it turns out I was choosing to ride one EVERYDAY. But I’m over it now. And just to be clear, seemingly random things happen — yes. But truly random? No. In computer programming for instance, true randomness isn’t even a thing, it’s only approximated. The unexpected things we experience are more like well-designed surprises, not randomness. All these narratives we find ourselves within wouldn’t exist if life was truly random.

Simple Arithmetic

I grew up assuming 1 + 1 = 2. I assumed that life had strict definitions and exact consequences. But after a few decades of existence, I finally noticed that those 1s and 2s are simply variables, not absolute values. So a better representation of the equation would be: whatever + whatever = whatever.

The “whatever” is whatever we imagine. Life is not a concrete concept, but a simulation of a physical reality. And in a simulation, it’s mere flickering pixels that form the foundation — and pixels can be arranged at whim. Of course, if you believe in a strict ordering of pixels, they’ll tend to form that way — but then again, they often don’t.

All video-games contain at least some seemingly random obstacles that get in a player’s way. A perfectly ordered path would be called boring by any standard. Seemingly random surprises are what make games fun to play. And when we overcome the hurdles before us, we feel the wonderful sensation of triumph.

Just remember, you’re not supposed to overly invest yourself in a game — just enough to immerse yourself, but not too much that you’re too scared of losing. Games are supposed to be fun things, there’s no real point beyond that, so your true mission is to extract the enjoyment from life. And don’t worry, there will always be a game to play.

Schrodinger’s Cat

This is not its intended usage, but since “Schrodinger’s Cat” is a commonly used concept, I like to think of it in my own way.

Since I’m an adherent of Simulation Theory, I really do believe that the cat in the box remains in a nebulous state until observed. My belief about the cat actually determines whether it’s alive or dead when I open the box. My belief is what instructs the simulation to render the cat in whatever state I imagine.

So what? Well, I use this concept as a way to force myself to think positively. If whatever I imagine renders before my eyes, then I better make sure I think the highest-quality thoughts lest I receive the worst of what I imagine. And it works — my life has significantly improved since I started ignoring and suppressing my pessimistic tendencies.

In this context, I would define anxiety as the welcoming-in of pessimistic thoughts. In other words, thoughts come and go, both positive and negative — and that’s not a problem — the problem was my willingness to entertain EVERY thought that came into my head. And it was this unfiltered approach to thinking that caused my anxiety. Once I stopped inviting unpleasant thoughts in, anxiety went away.

Do some pessimistic thoughts get pushy and try to barge their way in? Yep. But I push right back, a process that improves with practice. And whether my life is objectively better or just seemingly better doesn’t even matter — awesome is awesome. But as it turns out, things did start out seemingly better but now you could say my circumstances are objectively better too. And all it took, was a more disciplined approach to thinking.

Self Convicted

I have a tendency to ascribe certain consequences to particular actions. For example, if I don’t eat right, my body will deteriorate — no doubt about it. But what’s it mean to “eat right”. What constitutes “healthy” changes with the times and even the region, like fashion. So in a way, my tendency to expect a certain consequence from a particular action isn’t really based in truth, it’s more of a belief system.

And if it’s a belief system, why do I bother believing in consequences I don’t like? For instance, I was taught by non-smoking ads that cigarettes lead to certain doom. Yet my mother has been chain smoking for the last 60 years without consequence. At least with her, smoking seems to invigorate and rejuvenate.

If the world is a simulation, I think our attitude about the things we ingest determines the actual effects we experience. My mom loves smoking, she started when she was a young teen in order to look cool. Smoking relaxes her, it helps her eat less, it’s a familiar routine that brings her back to now. (I hate smoking by the way, and resented all the smoke I had to inhale growing up.)

My father was a smoker too, but he got convinced that it was unhealthy. He also ate a lot, and got convinced that the food he consumed was harming him. You could tell he felt guilty about smoking and over-eating whereas my mom is an unrepentant smoker. He’s been gone about 10 years now.

I think we condemn ourselves when we commit certain acts, then punish ourselves with particular consequences. But really, our body wants to be well — yet we punish it because of our warped belief system. We ingest this, so we cause that — simple arithmetic right? But dreamworlds don’t work like that.

There are no definite paths when it’s all pixels, little dots assembled together to create the illusion of solidity. When you believe yourself well, you tend to be well. When you believe yourself ill, you tend to be ill. It’s the belief that leads the way and the pixels form to paint the picture formed in the imagination.

Virtual Excitement

Imagine you’re playing a game, it’s a virtual world filled with little characters running around. They all wake up at sunrise, gather food, eat, gather more food, eat, then go to sleep at sunset. There’s nothing more to the game. Everything goes according to plan and everything is in perfect harmony. Is it a fun game? Of course not, it’s a boring waste of time.

Now imagine a similar game, a virtual world filled with little characters running around. But here, calamity often strikes, resource shortages occur, and characters quarrel. Little goes according to plan and harmony is a sought-after but never achieved state. Is it a fun game? Yeah, imbalance is the foundation of most games.

If life wasn’t a game, a smoothing balance would occur over time. Yet as it is, turbulence of shifting varieties keeps the boat rockin’. Life will never reach a balanced state, and we wouldn’t want it to. Do we desire boredom? No, never, it’s literally the worst feeling ever. We’d rather suffer the harshest pains than submit to boredom. We’ll scare ourselves silly rather than be bored.

I could ignore everything that goes on around me, letting circumstances sail-by like water off a duck’s back, never absorbing — but I don’t. Instead I intently watch, waiting to be triggered. THERE!!! Aha! Now I’m scared! Now I’m angry! Frustrated in fact!! Good! Goooood! I’m energized by these little dramas that keep coming into view!

And that’s it. That’s life in a nutshell. Now you understand why things are the way they are. But games are not only meant to be engaging, but fun — if you’re not enjoying yourself then you’re taking it too seriously, perhaps too personally — lighten up. If flickering pixels make you cry then step back a bit and find another part to focus on.

In a way, you’re at a buffet. Select the stuff you want, and stop getting the stuff that grosses you out. Don’t even look at it, just stick to the stuff that delights your palate. Develop an appreciation for the nicer things in life or you’ll be stuck with the worst stuff possible. Fear and frustration are the easiest ways to get your heart racing, but they’re low-quality options that should be avoided.