Editor’s note: Here is another article by our friend Ruricolus.
Founding Questions has an ongoing discussion of the NPC mind that’s worth a look. For background: A guy named Jaynes wrote a book on consciousness where he argues that what we think of as full consciousness can be defined something like “the ability to talk to yourself about yourself.” As I understand it, his theory is that primitive people, and some today, don’t have this ability, but have what he calls a “bicameral mind,” where instead of the whole mind thinking to itself, one part of the mind talks to the other, giving orders or ideas, and the person operates mostly on autopilot following those orders. I haven’t read the book, so that’s what I’m getting from the discussion about it.
What makes it interesting for us today (and why FQ is talking about it) is that the pod people seem to be regressing, or are being trained, into this bicameral state. They carry their phones around the same way primitive people carried idols containing their personal gods to advise them; and their opinions and screeching are on autopilot, obeying the social media mob’s voice. And there’s a feedback loop, where the little emotional charge that comes with each like and retweet trains them to think of that as real life, more real than the life where people aren’t constantly making them feel good. Eventually they want to live in a pod and order all their food delivered so they can spend all their time posting outrage and harvesting likes for it.
It explains how they can turn on a dime like a school of fish, because they don’t have to think about it. It explains why they feel no hypocrisy if you point out that they tweeted the opposite thing yesterday, because they literally aren’t conscious in the way you have to be to feel hypocrisy. If you’re always telling yourself the story of yourself, being caught in a lie matters to you. If you’re just following your programming, you don’t even notice when the code changes.
People being “programmed” was already observed with TV, but I think the always-on nature of social media has enhanced it exponentially. Which means that before an NPC can be deprogrammed, he has to be weaned off his social media/phone addiction. With TV, it was enough to get someone to go outside for a while, but now it’s much harder to take away their idols.
Two previous articles on the topic: The intro [https://foundingquestions.wordpress.com/2022/03/16/programming-notes/] and the second one [https://foundingquestions.wordpress.com/2022/03/17/jaynes-i-thesis/].