What are connections?

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So, last night I had the opportunity to ask myself a question: what is a connection between two people? How is that made in a conversation? I found myself needing to explain this to one of my friends, and I decided to write it here.

So, it goes like this. I have a thought to express. I express it, in the form of an experience I’ve had, or in pop culture, or just bare.

If the other person understands, then they can express it back to me with one of their experiences. If I feel that it matches up with what I’m trying to express, then a connection is made. It’s like two paths, meeting up at one point.

Those connections are important. Those little connections we make with people every day are very important. I know that, and actually I saw a professor give a lecture about it on Youtube once. I just spent a long time looking for it, but couldn’t find it again. Regardless, I think we all know that it is true.

I think we also all know that missed connections hurt. When the other person has no idea what you mean. They have not the slightest reservoir of experience with your words. Or, they respond by mocking you, and not in a friendly way. Friendly mocking would be a connection. It’s an invitation to explain yourself further, and deepen the understanding between the two of you. That is a way to get past a missed connection. It is best to remember this. Anyway, namaste.

I am Flawed (Sci-Fi Flash Fic)

 

Since human minds have become demystified, it has changed the way society functions. Society itself is created by our minds, and it is dependent on our understanding of reality. For most of history, any and all mental tools were used to oppress the weak. Towards the final culmination of our understanding, it was inevitable that we found the pieces that were left behind. These pieces could not be understood without the strong becoming weak themselves, to some degree, since understanding is another way of adding components to oneself.

Christine focused on the idea of persuasion, at times. It was the stuff of horror tales. It used to be poorly understood, and treated as nearly paranormal. What would make a person do something that they did not desire, even with a total lack of motivation? Things like group mentality were the first to be understood, in the early history of humanity. It was a simple thing, just to know that humans in groups would begin to act like each other. They would lose their personal motivations in favor of the collective. Later, the more nuanced phenomenon of the bystander effect was understood. We could not ignore the fact that average human beings would merely watch while crimes were committed, and do nothing. It is the reason why bystander laws were created. The threat of punishment was the only known way to override this human glitch.

Nowadays, even more subtle forms of persuasion are understood. The strange and small behaviors of humanity were finally put under the microscope, in order to truly see the mechanisms that moved us towards our futures. Christine knew, like everyone else, that she could be prone to agree with other people on a subject that she knew nothing about. She could be prone to follow the commands of a person she knows and trusts, and only question the action later. It is just a human glitch. She is not to blame. She knows she is not to blame.

She remembered a time, back when she was younger. It was one of those memories that stayed fresh, somehow. It took root, connecting itself to as many of her daily tasks as it could. It insisted upon itself. It was a warning, somehow. It was a memory of pushing her younger sister down a hill. She’d loved her younger sister. She was was the mothering type, as a young girl. Her little sister was quiet, and not particularly cute.

Christine remembered the voices of the children who told her to push the girl, her sister. Back then, she knew their names. She didn’t anymore. The physical memory of pushing her sister was vivid, feeling the cloth of her dress and seeing the fast flick of her hair. She even remembered the jump in her heart, as she felt a split moment of empathy with her sister. She felt like she had fallen down the hill as well. She remembered the feeling of shock, watching her whip down ten feet and land on her back. It was cold. It felt numb. She was lost in it. However, she can’t remember any of her thoughts. Christine knows that’s the important part. She knew, after that moment, about her own flaws. She knew about it before the rest of society did. When it became popular, she felt the excitement in her heart. She thought about that now, too. Everyone knew what she did, now. She wasn’t alone in that moment, anymore. She could live out in the open, with her secret. The secret of knowing she was flawed.

 

(Come to my site for more. I don’t treat this like a blog, more like a story dump site :3)

Lucid Dream Chronicles – VR Effects

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I can’t brag about my dreams IRL, because my friends either a.) have PTSD nightmares and need prazosin to keep them at bay OR b.) have dreams that are strange but somehow extremely boring. You know, I had an interest in controlling my mind and my dreams from a young age, and so it is a skill that has grown with time. I still remember the first time I controlled my dream. I will never forget the feeling of moving my fist through molasses to punch the face of the dream person that was in front of me. It was my first move when I became conscious in my dreams back then. I remember that I thought it was funny, and the guy had a face like the Mad TV cover guy.

I don’t do anything special before I go to bed now. I just fall asleep and let my subconsious decide what to serve me. Because I don’t necessarily want to lucid dream. I want to get good sleep. I don’t want to end up taking an extra morning nap just to continue my dream. But I did, this morning.

So, I got an Oculus Rift headset, fucking best purchase since buying the PS2. There is still a lack of great games for this system. It has only existed for so long, and games take many years to create. There are games like Ocean Rift that are mindblowing yet simple (if you love sea animals). And of course VR chat which is….exciting. Anyway, spending time in virtual reality gave my subconscious something new to play with.

The majority of my dreams a video-game-like. The vast majority. I honestly don’t know if anyone else is like this, but I assume so. A lot of them would be awesome ideas if I had a team of people to create them for me. I’ve even dreamed about being in a bullet-hell type landscape from a first-person perspective, in the past. It was really fun. I’ve dreamed about falling through bizarre and psychadelic landscapes, which were visually lovely. I actually got to do something like that for real recently, in Vrchat. People make some awesome worlds in that game.

So, anyway, my dream….I dreamt that I was playing a game. I was able to pull up a menu, and for a dream game I spent a lot of time using the menu. I tend to do that in games when I feel nervous, and this game was nerve-wrecking. I was a giant, on a team of giants. We had to fight another team. We had a hotbar with limited capacity, and I was desperately choosing between skills and healing chocolate bars to use while running from the other team, which was more powerful than ours. Our ranking was at stake, so we had to try and win. I remember choosing a powerful skill, only to face off with a character who had a rapid-fire gun that was just eating me away. I spammed healing chocos, and resolved to find some way to help my team. I ended up sniping and dodging for the longest time, before the Rapid-Fire Girl got me in another stand-off.

After that match, we ended up in a forest where we could sort ourselves out. It felt like a weird mix of being real and also a game. Some of the “evil” characters of the game were also in the forest, and would approach us to interact. There was this one baddie that was going from person to person and holding their hand, and doing…something to them. I ate one of my holy chocolates (lol idk) and tried to stay away from him, even though he said he was making us more powerful. I thought that maybe he would forget about me and ignore me. He approached me anyway, and I could feel his presence and smell as if he were real. He reached out to touch me, and put a hand on my head. Just then, a little dude popped up and informed me that my heartrate was 1,000/beats per minute (yeah….lol). The baddie took me to his limo, and told me we were going to the hospital. There were other baddies inside, but it was a neutral zone. I told them it would be cool to play as a baddie, but they told me that many of them were just bots. Eventually, I told them that I was fine. My heart was probably fast from my anxiety disorder, and they should take me back.

“I think it was because I touched you,” the main baddie said.

“Probably. I mean, I am afraid of you,” I said. He reached out towards me again, and I started to feel my heart flutter.

“Stay back.” One of the female baddies said. She reached out and took my pulse, declaring that it was at 99/bpm. Good enough.

The next fight, you can imagine what happened…that baddie called me out for having a crush on him. He transformed into a Great Ape from Dragonball Z that was wearing only underwear, and then threatened to turn back to human form in only underwear. I kept sleeping to continue my dream with him, and he actually did approach me in just his underwear. And then he turned into Seito Kaiba. So, you know, all the usual dream stuff that you would expect. Happy dreaming!

 

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Synthetic Life – Avian

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The synthetic avian being was hideous and featherless. Keri held it aloft on her arm, it’s claws more bird-like than it’s fleshy body, which was more reminiscent of some sort of subterranean lizard.

“Flappy envisions the world not just through the five senses, and neither do other types of vertebrates. There is also the part of the spinal cord that allows us to have an emotional experience of the world. This attaches emotions to every moment in time. Movements, sounds, and objects can become emotional experiences. Flappy can also read the emotions of others very accurately, by observing miniscule movements of their bodies as well as analyzing the variability of their heart’s beat. He has the impeccable hearing that many animals have. He may lack the higher functioning of a neocortex, but he has all the empathetic functioning that make animals so wonderful,” Keri said.

“I’m surprised that you would make something like that,” I said.

“Flappy says you’re lonely,” Keri said. The bird made a jarring squawking noise.

“Yeah. I’m a vampire, right? That’s how it is. Even humans are lonely,” I said.

“He says that your mind is screaming, and it’s gross,” Keri said. That caused my skin to prickle a little bit. I wondered if animals really could sense such things. Chirping melodically, the tune began to resemble the song that was playing loudly in my head. It was a fast-paced song that Alice listened to on repeat sometimes. It was catchy as fuck.

“There’s definitely some screaming in your head. You know, I think I can hear it too,” Keri said, dramatically leaning in towards me. I leaned back.

“My thoughts are pretty loud,” I said.

“Flappy says that you are just repeating what you are doing. Everything you did today. He says that’s what you always are saying. It’s repetitive as fuck. It’s like you won’t stop until someone hears it,” Keri said.

“Oh,” I said. That was right, actually. I sort of enjoyed doing that. I didn’t intend for anyone to listen in on my thoughts. I just liked to talk to my inner self. I was a self-narrator, and always had been.

“Well he says you do want someone to listen,” Keri said.

“Keri, I thought you couldn’t read my mind,” I said. Keri leaned in towards me again, with a childlike smile.

“Flappy,” she said. I sort of made me giggle. The featherless bird flapped it’s wings excitedly, looking as grotesque as a bat. It reminded me of my room back at my house. Painting the walls with my thoughts, ruminating over and over the same circles on the carpet. I wondered if it would have been different if I’d had someone to share my experiences with. I looked down at the ground I was standing on in that moment.

“Flappy also takes note of where your attention lies. That is sort of amazing, isn’t it? He can tell when your mind is paying attention. He can tell the direction. He can make inferences based on that,” Keri said.

“That sounds pretty advanced, Keri,” I said, begrudgingly impressed. She swished her skirt a bit, shyly.

“Actually, it’s quite primitive. I suspected that animals were capable of this much. They seem to know when you are thinking about them, don’t they? They know where your attention is directed. It’s from visual cues, yes. That’s obvious. But more beautiful subtlety lies in sound. We don’t realize what our bodies are screaming out into the world,” Keri said.

“How could he know specifically what I’m focusing on, though?” I asked.

“There are different emotional experiences tied to objects. Moments, even. Flappy can read them all, with the most primitive of minds. Honestly, the more advanced hardware in the human mind is all there to obfuscate such lovely machinery. It is the machine that creates fantasy and steals us away from the present moment. Flappy lacks that. He lives in the moment, and is a perfect observer of it,” Keri said.

“So, what am I focusing on now?” I asked.

“Flappy said: sad carpet. I don’t know what that means. Maybe you do,” Keri said.

“I do. Smart bird,” I said, admiring the ugly monster.

“He’s not much smarter than a normal bird. Let me remind you again. He does however know how to speak English, which makes him special,” Keri said.

“He does?” I asked. The bird stared at me.

“He doesn’t want to talk to you. He doesn’t like you,” Keri said. I felt dissapointed, and the bird squawked.

“Flappy is not really one for sympathy, Will. Guess that’s why you’re not appealing to him,” Keri said. I ignored her comment, and started to think about my own machinery.

“Do you think this is how vampires are able to read minds? Maybe we have similar machinery within us? Makes sense, since it is as simple as you say it is,” I said.

“I wouldn’t know. I seem to lack this ability, and so does Isa. I would need a very special test subject to uncover that great mystery,” she said, swishing her skirt again. Her attempts to seem girlish are lost on me, as I know how far removed she is from that fantasy.

“I don’t want to know that badly,” I said.

“You’re no scientist, Will. I’m dissapointed,” Keri said.

“We’re not all as reckless as you,” I said.

“We are all reckless for love, Will,” Keri said.

Knowledge vs Intuition

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Its funny how so many important things aren’t intuitive at all. You trick yourself into trusting your intuition. Sometimes, you need to. Sometimes, you shouldn’t. It’s not intuitive whether you should trust your intuition. Oh no, you need experience and knowledge, too. Exactly why life is too complicated, and why we all just spend our whole lives screwing up and doing nothing right. Might as well give up now on that one.

Once you know that you can’t trust you own judgement, or the fleeting but power feelings in your heart, you want to seek out knowledge of the non-intuitive nature. You might assume that your doing the right thing at any given time, all the time, when you are young. Some people never outgrow that, and they live their lives following their intuition and emotions. Other people find faults in their own motives, and realize that they can become closer to the actual best way to do things if they do so. It can become very tantalizing, to seek out all the ways that you are doing things wrong. It’s a good idea to find a balance here, just like with everything.

This is kind of related to my last blog post, about relearning the piano. My intuition told me that I would never learn the more complex parts of the song. The truth is, though, that repetition at a slower pace is all I needed to learn any song. My intuition was wrong, and it’s a shame that I listened to it.

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If you start questioning everything you do and feel, you won’t live a good, human life. However, if you never question yourself, then you basically live like an animal, in my humble opinion. Hope you realize I’m a bit cynical, and I’m not ashamed of it. Just take if for what it’s worth. If you go on your intuition alone, you will end up just following the momentary feelings that make you feel good. You’ll choose lovers that give you the quickest satisfaction, and you’ll fight with anyone who makes you angry or uncomfortable. I prefer to be more like the former, and be a little more contemplative in my actions. Its funny, but no matter what I do, I always know that I could be manipulated by my emotions without even knowing it. I can’t ever really understand what parts of my motives are based off of fleeting feelings, and which ones are based on the knowledge that my actions are going to improve my life. Improving my life is my goal, and I assume that it is every living thing’s goal. You can say that you live for other people, and that may be part true, but it is never fully true. This might be classified under “wisdom” rather than “knowledge,” because you must connect with the words through your experience. However, I believe that most people have tried to learn a new skill at one point in their lives.

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Relearning the Piano…and Guitar Hero

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When I was young, I played the piano. I was taught how to learn a new song: through the mysterious force of mindless repetition. You play it slowly, the right way, and then you speed it up. It doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you are moving the fingers correctly. And….it works!

It’s not fun to play it at one-half or one-quarter speed. It sounds terrible, and it isn’t immediately rewarding. But, if you know that it will pay off, then you feel hopeful and giddy. When you finally move your fingers over a complicated chord in the right way, your heart feels a thrill. The truth is that later, your muscles will be able to do it again, and again, and faster. That muscle memory lasts for years and years. One of the interesting things is that I used to skip over some parts of the songs that were too hard. I would get frustrated with them, even though I would learn the rest of the song correctly. I didn’t understand that those parts could be learned in exactly the same way as the rest of the song. There wasn’t much difference between the hard parts and the easy parts. In fact, now I realize that learning the hard parts is more rewarding, even as they are more difficult. This awesome power makes you even better at learning a new chord that is similar, or meeting any type of similar challenge. I really stunted my piano growth by not believing in my ability to learn the more difficult chords. More than that, I didn’t trust the true innate power of muscle memory. Lets face it: it wasn’t me learning the song, it was my body. Sometimes, you gotta have a little blind faith in your body, even when you tend to be a screw up.

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On that note…I’m only doing this because I got back into Guitar Hero. That game is my reason to live, off and on. When my hand cramps up too much to keep playing, I go back to the piano. Believe it or not, it is easier to play the piano than to grip that stupid plastic guitar. I still know about three songs that I used to play daily…Guitar Hero-wise and piano-wise. The memories of those songs are really deep, especially the really fun parts. Those fun parts really trigger the reward center of my brain, and my muscles are eager to comply. My fingers have an actual mind of their own, as I find myself sitting back and letting them do the thing.

And I’m better now at that, too. Older and wiser. Why? I’ll tell you.

I used to think that I couldn’t ever hit some parts. But, magically, when I trusted that I was capable of it, I was able to. I would get frustrated in the past, and it would make me play worse. It was like my own belief in my restrictions became a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Probably, my muscles just thought they would never get a thrill out of those complex tasks. How wrong we were, my fingers and me……..Of course, that mostly applies to muscle memory. The rest of life continues to be complicated, unrewarding, and not improved at all by repetition. Still, though, at least I have Guitar Hero.

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How to walk like a normal human being

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Sometimes I forget how to look like a normal, sane person, even though I desire that so much. Not only do I have crippling anxiety, but I desire good, confident posture. Or, you know, not looking as stiff as a piece of wood. That would be great. I have a tip for anyone else with that problem. So, without further ado, here’s the tip.

Pay attention to your legs, and nothing else. There is nothing worse than overly focusing on your hands or your butt while you walk, and then walking like a robot. Or your posture, or your face, or anything, really, that makes you walk like you are on drugs. I know that a lot of people have never been afraid of forgetting how to walk, but I can tell you that it really sucks. Some weird obsession makes me pay attention to my posture or the position of my hands…or my butt, sometimes. Focusing on my legs lets the rest of my body fall into a natural position.

I got the idea from observing a person I admire. She has a really cool way of walking, and I tried to do it myself. I paid so much attention to my legs, that suddenly my posture and arms fell into natural positions. Suddenly, I was swaying my hips and my hands without thinking about it. Now, it works every time. I just think about my legs while I’m walking, and I let the rest of my body do it’s natural thing. I looked at myself in the mirror, and I found that it helped me have a more natural stance, too. I hate looking stiff and uncomfortable. If I think about my legs, and feel good about my natural posture (which is just normal, not amazing) then I have one less thing to worry about in my life.

I hope these tips will be applicable to anyone besides myself. Not that I hope other people have anxiety problems.

And yes, I am embarrassed to admit to this stuff. Again, though, be positive. I’d love a society where we all embraced honesty about ourselves. Instead, I pretend I’m fit and happy as everyone else, even when I truly am struggling, I’m young, and people expect me to be full of pep, not crippling depression. Really, they should know better, but I think we all know that they don’t. I mean, we aren’t in the jungle anymore, people. I think you can cut me a little slack, when I feel like I am about to collapse into a jiggling pile of failure. But, I can’t expect people to understand, when they have never experienced anxiety for themselves. Though, when I find creative solutions to my problems, it feels pretty cool.

Lucid Dreams are Fun

One of the interesting parts of dreaming is the fact that your left brain is turned off. That is the part of your brain that tells you who you are and what you are, among other things. During dreaming, you likely experience a level of “ego death”. This is a term that is also used when describing a hallucinogen experience. You no longer are aware of who you are in the context of your waking life. You merely are a person living the experience in the moment. Sometimes, that even happens during lucid dreaming. Often, I’m not thinking about my daily problems. At least, I’m not thinking about them in concrete terms. I may be aware of some anxiety from my day, but in a more general way. It is something that I can’t really appreciate until I wake up. I had a dream not too long ago that I was in a house, and I was floating around, exploring. I felt like I was searching for someone, but I was aware that I was dreaming. Still, I was more concerned with the experience of the moment. What would be around the next corner? What did the pictures on the wall look like? I found that they changed, becoming new images in their frames, and it didn’t bother me. I was very relaxed, and interested in the scenery. None of my usual concerns were present. I floated towards the ceiling, and felt the texture that was there. I had the feeling that someone was going to emerge into the large room I was in, and the colors of room changed. Flames appeared on the walls, but I wasn’t worried about it. I just waited, but no one actually came out. It was an interesting experience, and hell if I know what it means.

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Connected Society, part 3

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Clancy only wanted to know more about the community of abnormals. He felt passionate, but he also felt controlled by the reigns of this desire. He liked it, every part of it, though. He questioned it, why he became so obsessed. But then, he giggled to himself. It was different from watching some TV show, or scrolling through the internet. It was different from his athletic training, which required him to zone out in order to tolerate the pain. For once, he felt compelled to focus.

First, he read the more obvious sources. He found that he was disappointed in himself, for not going so far as reading the online dictionary article about abnormal humans. Then, he was disappointed in his own education. He started to wonder what else they’d neglected to teach him, due to budget cuts. It made his cheeks get hot, thinking about it. But he reconciled with the fact that he was still young, and it was better late than never.

He learned that, in fact, many abnormals do enter general society. When they are deemed fit, they can in fact live together with the rest and hold jobs. The statistics were sketchy, though. The article admitted that the data was skewed by the numbers who vacillated between worlds. Often, things weren’t so official. There were gray areas. Sometimes, those gray areas involved horrible things, and sometimes people thrived in them. It was the general consensus that the system needed improving. After all, gray areas are not a good way to run any type of a system. When human lives are at stake, things must be as organized as possible. Of course, reform tended to occur over the course of decades. It was still debatable what was direction to move in, and which direction was forward.

Mood altering adjuncts to the neural implant are always the first attempt to normalize any person. Clancy read about the subject a bit robotically, as he had been indoctrinated on the issue many times in the classroom.

“It is well known that mood altering states can be added to the neural implant, and are as easily found on the internet as they are applied to the neural system. They are abused by 1 in 5 people. These people may have a genetic predisposition to addiction, or there may be other contributing factors. There is often a fine line between addiction and the general use of these states, however they are invaluable to allowing many members of society to function. Many users are comfortable with allowing the program to influence their moods, and sometimes their thoughts, in exchange for the positivity it affords them.

“However, these mood altering states are not able to correct the behavior and mental patterns of some persons. Forcible use of the mood altering states was made illegal 30 years ago, when it was found to be unethical under Abby Schrieber law. Although it is still debatable whether it is more ethical to sequester those with abnormal thinking patterns, the decision has not been overturned (Evans et al. 27/6/2045).”

He also read about people who flat out refused to use anything mind altering, however those sites seemed to be phony. He wondered why they existed at all. Most cases tended towards the idea that these people would do anything to become normal. Some of them were just not capable of it by modern means. Decreasing the electrical activity of the brain in some areas, and increasing in other areas, could create mood states. Psychological states were caused by experiences, and often became unique to the individual.

The next thing he did was to start researching the appearance of different mood states. He suddenly wanted to know, for sure, what he was feeling at any given moment. It made him excited, to think about decoding his own patterns in that way. He had the feeling that it would affect his personality, but he also found that he didn’t care. He decided that it was a new part of himself, to understand these things with total abandon. Besides that, there was the idea that he did not know what his moods were from moment to moment. The truth was, he hadn’t even thought about it, until that moment.

Listening to your own feelings

 

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Being shy makes a person become obsessed with what other people are thinking about them. You might even feel like a mind reader. It’s all-encompassing, sometimes, and in some ways a personality trait. Instead of focusing on their reaction to you, maybe try focusing on your own feelings. For example, if someone comes up to you and says, “I hate my job,” what is your reaction? Do you think, “Why did they say that to me? Do I look like I hate my job, too?” That person may not even be thinking about how you feel about the job. But, what do you think about that person?

Do you think, “why does this person hate their job?” Or maybe even, “They aren’t even working as hard as me!” Its okay to just listen to your own feelings about that person. They aren’t reading your mind. The difference is that you actually focus on your own feelings, and care more about yourself. Likely, you have just pushed your own thoughts into the background, while you’ve put priority on the other person’s thoughts and feelings. You might feel a bit more free if you can just focus on yourself. It can be frightening for an anxiety sufferer, because those people feel obligated to know how others feel about them. Moment to moment, any one of us can become confident or insecure, depending on which of our strengths or weaknesses are at the forefront. That fluidity is natural, since every person has a confident side and an insecure side. A socially anxious person may fear that ever changing state, and try to control it. Some people want to appear confident and like-able all the time, but that is just too much work. You may need to accept that part of social interaction is leaving it up to chance, and that is part of the fun. Yes, it’s not always fun, but that’s just life. It’s just one of those quirks of being an anxious person, too. Take care!