News Narrative

The news paints a narrative. And according to the news, human life is primarily composed of crime, corruption, exploitation, and suffering. Imagine aliens watched nothing but our news, what picture would they develop about humanity?

News is not telling a tale that benefits its consumers, it’s junk-food. Junk-food approximates food, but lacks nutritiousness — and if you attempt to live off of it, your body will be at a disadvantage compared to consuming a healthier diet.

In other words, the news is not what’s happening, it only approximates what’s happening — and in fact it’s the worst of what’s happening. Consequently, if we feed our mind the worst of what’s happening, it will affect the way in which we perceive the world.

Tragedy will seem a common component of everyday life. People won’t be people, they’ll be outlandish caricatures. The news is not a simple survey of current events, it’s comprised of the opinions of producers, editors, publicists, managers, marketers, and reporters.

The simple fact is this: there is no source by which we can receive an objective survey of the ongoings of humanity. Even our own perspective skews our interpretation of events.

The point is this: don’t feel obligated to “stay informed” — it’s an impossible task. And if you attempt to “stay informed” by consuming a junk-food-diet of information, you’ll be worse off.

This condition of unknowableness is a good thing by the way, it gives us license to paint our own picture of what’s going on. And the most sensible picture to paint, is one that looks good to you — one that fills you with feelings you actually want to experience.

If you truly enjoy fear and hopelessness, then sure tune into the news. But if love, laughter, and delight suit your tastes better, then seek out sources that paint a more palatable picture.

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Real or NPC

Being that I believe in Simulation Theory, I tend to evaluate people on the basis of whether they’re actual players or merely NPCs (non-player characters). I was thinking about designing an evaluation to determine who’s who — like a Turing Test. But of course it relies on the assumption that other players share my perspective — it’s possible that other players relate to the game in a vastly different manner than I do. But I suppose it’s also possible that I’m not really a player, but a confused NPC.

From my perspective at least, I tend to judge people as actual players if they exhibit the following behaviors.

They demonstrate an appreciation for the absurdity of their humanness. In other words, “wow existence is weird huh?”

They demonstrate a well-functioning sense of humor. Being a human that poots and poops is a silly thing. Because we’re not natively so, being a human is an awkward experience that’s inherently funny.

They demonstrate an inability in dealing with humanness, i.e. they’re not an automaton effortlessly performing an assigned role. In other words, they don’t mechanically adhere to pre-fabricated societal roles. They’re confused or frustrated at times by the concept of existing — they may have an existential crisis for instance.

They try to figure out who they are and what their character is capable of. They engage in introspection and wonder about themselves.

Well those are just a few quick ideas. Again, I can obviously pass this test because it’s designed around me. But perhaps other players have a different way of experiencing the game. So, it’s not a sure thing. It’s also possible that we’re all players, and some of us just have a shallow gameplay style.

In other words, some people aren’t providing their full attention, their character is on auto-pilot most of the time. Whereas in a lot of video-games I’ll turn the “assists” and “auto-pilot” modes off and try to do everything manually. It could be the case with this world too, where I’m attempting to manually control my character without relying on too much assistance (or I just suck at this game even with the helper settings turned on).

Dramatic Analysis

Last we left things, I had just mentioned the dramatic-overlay I placed upon a simple task I was required to perform. In other words, I had to do something pretty easy, and through my creative imagination, it became so much more. Instead of a boring job, suddenly it was the most exciting thing I did all day — maybe all week!

Unfortunately though, I picked the “hardship” interpretation instead of the “lighthearted” interpretation. If you ask me, I’d never admit to enjoying the “hardship” option, but why do I keep selecting it!!?? Does that mean I secretly enjoy it? Honestly, it’s probably just the easier, lazy option. For example, if you want to get someone’s heart beating fast, just jump out and scare them — it’s the cheap and uncreative option, but it works.

So if I want to stave off boredom, I can simply scare myself. A random noise now becomes cause for alarm. How exciting! Otherwise, I have to come up with some other means to amuse myself. But what can compete with fear when it comes to intensity? Yet if I’m sick and tired of hardship-based entertainment, what am I to do…?

I suppose I need to find a way to create dramatic-overlays that are exciting yet appropriate for my temperament — you know, enjoyable. And we can’t live life without dramatic-overlays by the way, otherwise we’re just automatons. No, life implies that we’re to make mountains out of molehills within our imagination — that’s the game of pretend we’re all playing.

I think what I’m missing is the grand narrative, the “why” that underlies my existence. Why am I here? I don’t have a good answer. My default answer was: I’m a fragile creature born by chance attempting to survive within a harsh environment — my only goal is to avoid dying in an uncomfortable manner. As a grand narrative, that sucks and obviously leads to high-anxiety.

So, a better “why” it must be — a purpose. Hmm. Hold on, I’m thinking. Well fundamentally, the underlying purpose of any game is to experience enjoyment. We play in order to have fun. Okay, so, why am I here? I’m the manifestation of an infinite being attempting to navigate an embodied existence — my only goal is to extract the delight out of life.

P.S. I could probably say: extract the “significance” or “greatness” out of life — but for my temperament, I think delight is more apt.

Dramatic Overlay

Just think about the ongoings of life for a minute.

Let’s use my mother as an example. Her day consists mostly of smoking cigarettes, handling animal poop, some light landscaping or interior-decorating, applying makeup, shopping, watching sentimental shows on cable, listening to my sister, babysitting her grandson, eating some quick-to-assemble food, napping, watching prime-time TV shows, and going to bed. I’ve known my mother my entire life and we even lived in the same house for several decades — in other words, I’m pretty familiar with her narrative. She’s in her seventies and doesn’t expect much more out of life at this point.

Although I described her current routine, her routine from several decades ago wasn’t much different. Externally, her life hasn’t been too exciting I’d say. Internally, she’s very anxious and worries a lot. Every phone-call has the potential to be a life-changing disaster. If I dare call her outside of my normal routine, well then something MUST be wrong. So internally, I’d say her life has been very exciting. She’s captivated by the fear of terrible things happening in her life (despite the fact that so little has happened in all those seventy-plus years).

My point is this: I’ve directly witnessed a few people’s lives. And I gotta tell ya, from those examples, existence seems like a pretty mundane affair. Do some people have super-duper exciting experiences? I dunno, I don’t know those people. The lives I’ve personally observed are boring on the outside and a veritable high-intensity electrical-storm on the inside — my own included. So what’s the take-away from this?

From a simulation standpoint, that means the rendering and scripting of daily-life can be simple and repetitive. If everything interesting happens in the imagination, well that’s easy-peasy. That means life is more like a book than a movie — a scene is suggested and you simply picture it in your head. In the external world, just follow a basic pattern of activities — but inside your head, infuse some drama into the mix, add some fear or anger and suddenly a basic interaction becomes so much more.

How many times do we find ourselves lost in thought, imagining the motivations of others? These people have literally done nothing, yet we craft an entire soap-opera around the way in which they did or didn’t say “Hello”. In the external world, nothing happened — but in our internal world a grand epic just took place. This is very convenient for players that lack skill in maneuvering their character through the wider world — a noob can basically stand still while experiencing an entire range of intense emotions.

We wake up, eat, defecate, perform some mundane tasks, interact with others in a minimal way, talk about everyday topics, travel to and fro in short uneventful trips, read some stuff, watch some stuff, sleep — our external experiences are almost nothing compared to the excitement on the inside. The dramatic overlay we place upon these very basic activities is amazing. We’re authors writing our novel each and every day.

And here’s the thing… if so much of life is written inside our heads — maybe 90% or more, then we have the ability to control 90% or more of our life through the shifting and directing of our focus. By writing our novel in a way that fills us with delight, we can craft the best possible experience imaginable. It’s within our power as soon as we realize we can do this — and actually apply it. All lives are essentially boring, it’s the same stuff everyday — they all suck UNTIL you place a dramatic overlay that you enjoy on top.

Loser Baby

I’m a short guy with messed-up teeth and poor-posture dressed in clothes that don’t fit right. I wear hats in the sun. I often relate to the people being made fun of in “iAmVerySmart”, “im14andThisIsDeep”, and “justNeckBeardThings”. I used to own a ninja sword and nunchucks. I can count the number of friends I have on one finger. I’ve lived in a trailer park for the past six years with no job, just doing my own thing. Oh and let’s not forget that I’ve written a blog, this blog in fact, for six years and each post receives anywhere from zero to six likes on average. A couple posts received twelve likes in a single day — so I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.

WHAT??? But Rich!!! You’re… You’re… wait… you’re a loser..? Well in my last post, I noticed that I tend to seek out loserdom. Apparently I don’t want to win, and when I do, I get bored and look for something new to lose at. I guess losing is very captivating to me. But Rich, you’re my idol!! You can’t be… a… a… loser!!??

Well, you’re right. By almost every metric, I’m a loser — but the thing is, I don’t see myself as a loser. In my mind, I’m the smartest guy on the planet, I’m tough, super-strong, and ruggedly handsome. Of course I realize that my unwarranted overconfidence only makes me more of a loser — but that irony just doesn’t register with me. And lest you forget, this is Trump’s America now, the place where unwarranted overconfidence wins.

So don’t feel bad for me, losing just happens to be my particular brand of fuel, the magnet that draws me through life. We all have a magnet of some sort. Some people have daddy-issues or other emotional voids to fill. Some have a need to succeed in order to prove their worth to a parent they could never please. Some have an obsession with personal appearance, allowing it to rule their life. We all have weaknesses that draw us along — that’s how narratives work.

For me, it’s losing. It’s a perpetual-motion machine. Put me in a losing situation and I simply won’t accept it. “I’m a winner, f*ck you!” It’s a persistence that shows up unasked for, it’s simply the mechanism that makes my character move. Even if it takes everyone else quitting, and me being the only person left in the race, that’s fine — I win. In many situations I win through sheer inertia — I just won’t leave until I win. And when I finally do, it’s time for something new.

The actual games we play in life don’t matter. All life cares about is whether we’re captivated. I can’t stop thinking I’m a winner — consequently life places me in situations where I’m not a winner — but that doesn’t sit right in my mind, it excites me, causing me to react every time. I’m fine with that, it’s the role I’m playing this round. And who knows, maybe one day I’ll learn to enjoy success and enter into some sort of mastery stage. I honestly feel like I’m headed in that direction — stay tuned.

“But the thing is, I don’t see myself as a loser. It’s simply the fuel, the magnet that draws me through life.” — me

Life is Suffering

“Life is suffering” is a fundamental misunderstanding of existence. I think there’s a truer statement: life is captivating. And to be captivating, life is oftentimes hard. Furthermore, if everything is mere flickering pixels, there’s no actual body that suffers, it’s only ever a suggestion of pain — and we the consciousness can choose to accept or reject that suggestion.

For me, an engaging video-game is one that stretches my limits and beats me down. I lose often. It’s a drive to resist this subjugation that pushes me to play again and again despite my seemingly futile attempts. But then, for no good reason, or perhaps the game literally tires of my persistence, I start winning. All that anticipation finally pays off in a feeling of glorious triumph. Sweet relief comes as I finally conquer my foe. But that only means it’s time to find a new game.

Life knows what pushes my buttons and so, pushes them. As players we should expect nothing less. Of course not everyone has the same pattern of pushes — some are satisfied with the simple life, I’m a glutton for feeling like a loser, and some are downright freaks that bathe in blood and gore. Whatever it is, life will find a way to captivate us all.

Of course that can seem overwhelming. It IS overwhelming. It’s nuts — life is the ultimate video-game, reading our thoughts and customizing itself in a way that tantalizes us to our core, turning up the intensity until we literally think we’re part of it. You gotta admit, that’s pretty cool.

Life is SO overwhelmingly intense in fact, that even if you realize it’s only a game, you’ll STILL get lost to it. You’ll think, “Haha I got this! Whee! So fun!” — but all that goes out the window in the next roller-coaster drop. “OH SH*T!! WHAT THE F*CK WAS THAT!!??”. That’s life baby, and it’s got your attention — and you wouldn’t have it any other way.

Universal Mind

Why do we know things — individually and as a society?

From a purely physical perspective, all knowledge is held within the collective minds of mankind. In other words, every individual is a redundant data-storage module, that when combined with all other individuals, contains the sum of human knowledge. Society’s memory is simply stored in the memories of individuals. No one person contains everything, but multiple people hold the same information for particular areas.

There is a slower archival-storage mechanism, in the form of books and videos and such. But this still requires an individual to know enough to seek out such books and know where to find them and how to follow them. So primarily, society’s memory is stored in the active memory of individuals.

We also know that memories decay over time. As new things enter our mind, old things become less relevant, the past becomes even more distant and details fade. And memories aren’t stored digitally, but in an analog format. For example, when I try to recall something from decades ago: I kinda remember, I know it sounds like “mara…” no, no, it was “Sara…” wait no, “Kara…” that’s it! But I might be wrong and the memory becomes corrupted.

The details of not-so-popular things are probably corrupted the most since less people hold them in memory. But what if my own memory contradicts the memory of the collective mind? When a few individuals share the same contradiction, this concept has been termed the “Mandela Effect” or sometimes “Retroactive Continuity”. Some adherents claim there’s evidence of archival-storage contradicting the memory of the collective mind (sometimes called “residue”).

Since I believe in Simulation Theory, I don’t adhere to the purely physical perspective. My belief is that knowledge is held in a Universal Consciousness located beyond the confines of the physical world. When inspiration or understanding comes out of nowhere, I assume it comes from this Universal Consciousness. In other words, parents and teachers do not impart the knowledge we possess, it’s simply unlocked at the appropriate time when needed.

In my experience, there is no wisdom of the crowd. Instead, an individual is instilled with an inspiring idea that subsequently influences the crowd. And this inspiring idea wasn’t passed down, it didn’t come from society’s memory, it was fresh information that radically altered society as a whole. Spiritual leaders, political leaders, philosophers, inventors — the things these people knew didn’t come from rehashing old stuff into something great — aging leftovers don’t make the best meals.

And I don’t believe the simulation is absolute and concrete in its ways. It’s more of a dream that flows and forms based on feedback from the player. And in dreams, continuity doesn’t matter, corruption of concepts is a regular occurrence — so in my thinking, things like the Mandela Effect or Retroactive Continuity could readily occur. (I’m mentioning these concepts because my friend mentioned them to me this morning and I’m writing this to help clarify my thoughts on the matter).