Thursday, December 08, 2016

depressive realism and experiments

One of the changes I've seen as I grow older is that I have an increasingly long list of "things I really shouldn't think about because doing so will only make me crazy(ier)/despair/whatever. I still love to think, but many thoughts have to get quarantined as soon as possible merely as a survival mechanism.

But is that healthy? Is it a good idea, particularly for someone with mental issues? I'll have to discuss it with my therapist, really. One thing that's already come up is how people who suffer from depression (like me) tend to view the world more accurately than the neuronormatives. The name for this is depressive realism. I'm not sure I like the concept, but the name is at least pretty cool...maybe I'll use it for an album title somewhere down the road.

Usually, these types of thoughts are personal or emotional. Lately, however, the scientific world has started to breach my "don't really think about these things" list...because the more I learn about it, the more I realize that science is sure wackier than they told me in high school. Some scientists, for instance, claim we are living in a giant simulation. It seems we may not be any more than software in some highly advanced being's computer program analyzing the nature of identity or something.

I'm actually torn on this one. On the one hand, it would explain an awful lot. However, if the vast scale of human suffering and pain is really only a data point on some galactic spreadsheet, that would inevitably mean that the experiment designer is obviously a maniacal psychopath. I dunno. I certainly feel real, but that could only mean I'm a well-designed piece of software. Maybe my own depression is really just the result of some errors in the code which escaped the debugging process. These thoughts, though, are one reason why science is increasingly on my "don't think about it list."

However, I've got to say one thing to any cosmic experimenters (if any) out there. Take a break, already. Your experimental protocols are becoming increasingly transparent and defective. Look, I can accept some pretty wild things, but a reality star for a president who's already appointed a wrestling CEO, a blindingly stupid neurosurgeon, and a fast food franchise owner to his staff? A state government which wants to allow concealed weapons on college campuses? The criminalization of constitutionally protected acts? The rampant xenophobia? Enough's enough.

Your work, Mr. Alien Experimenter, will suffer if you don't take a break and go do something fun or enriching. If you get obsessed with testing the limits of our simulated species, you're going to seriously lose it. So go outside and have fun. At least watch an episode of whatever passes for comedy television in your dimension. Listen to some rock and roll. Learn an instrument. All work and no play makes for a grumpy manipulator.

Trust me, I know. I am, after all, in the middle of grading final portfolios, so I understand the pressure.

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