Despite of how it looks - I'm not part of a coup d'etat


Blake Miner recently wrote an interesting blog entry called "The Infinite Version of You". It is an interesting though experiment based on a concept known as "Theory of Mind". In a nutshell, the people that others interact with in their minds have a version of "YOU", not the real you but the "YOU" they believe they "know".  Similarly, the people you interact with are not really them but simply a 'copy' of them you have made in your own mind, based on your experiences.

This has some personal relevance to me, specifically as a young child, when I was between the ages of 9-11 my dad was diagnosed with a type of Schizophrenia. My dad believed that 'GOD' was taking to him and had given him special abilities, for example, the ability to move objects with his mind.

What I came to realize though this experience (and through others following) was that the 'Dad' I knew was only a part of the picture. A bunch of pieces of my memories and interactions that summed together in my mind to be my 'Dad'

One part however, that seems to be missing from Mr. Miner's entry is that their is a social aspect to discussing shared experiences about others. Actually there is a specific word for it called 'GOSSIP'

The logic works something like this:

    In your mind, you have a copy of someone else, let's call him "Steve". You believe "Steve" to be a decent person, you do not know him very well, but in those times when you interacted acted you always found him to be polite, reasonable, and 'normal'.  Later that afternoon, you overhear a few of your other friends talking about Steve, and they are not being so polite. They are sharing stories of how is a lying, cheating, backstabber. Someone who manipulates others to get what he wants at the expense of everyone else.  This description does not fit the narrative that you were creating in your copy of Steve in your mind, and since intuitively you assume their can only be "one Steve", and everyone else seems to think differently then you. You reach the conclusion that your 'copy' is a mistake, so you decide to throw it out, and adopt the story you are hearing from others. ie: If 'everyone' thinks Steve is a lying backstabber, then you MUST be the one who is wrong. - Right?

Of course, here is the problem, everyone else in that group, is having similar thoughts in that exact same moment, doubting if their 'copy' of Steve is correct based on what they are hearing. You hear something that 'sounds off', but then you start to think about it and find yourself finding similar stories, perhaps things you somehow didn't notice before, but now when you look back in your memories it is clear now, maybe he was manipulating me too? - So you share that with the group, and suddenly hear agreement. Yes he was manipulating me! How did I not see it before?

Steve now has suddenly become the villain in the narrative of everyone in the group, and he was never even there to defend himself, yet you have already pronounced him guilty.

To be fair, I don't think people engage in this idle gossip 'deliberately'. I think their is something 'built in' that to feel a sense of belonging, a sense of being part of a 'group'. We need to define "the other". The entity that does not fit into our group. The sharing of the differences of 'others' somehow seems to bring others together in some sick, demented way.

But of course we then fail to realize, that the same 'togetherness' we feel for one group, makes us 'the other' in some other group, who also simply have made copies of us in our own mind, shared those with others, who now suddenly agree with them.

Perhaps you have experienced this for yourself? - Have things ever seem to be going along well for you with someone, and then suddenly, and without reason, things seem to take a negative direction? Perhaps you gut tells you they have suddenly changed in the way they think and act around you, but you are not sure why?...and you are left wondering why has 'he/she' turned against me? - Is it something I have said or done?  The copy you have had of them in your mind, is now 'upset', confused and shocked ??? If this person has turned against me will others? - Is someone sharing false rumors about me? - Why am I being excluded.

If only we could remind ourselves, in these times, that it is unlikely that the world is actually against us, their is no grand 'coup d'etat' trying to take things away from us. That it all revolves around seemly 'innocents' sharing of experiences we have with others. Stories that come together and mess up the image we form in our own mind of people like Steve. Sometimes, people even mislead themselves into thinking they are 'helping' us by warning us about Steve before we even meet him and judge for ourselves.

For there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so...

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