sábado, 18 de novembro de 2017

Subjectivity and Reality

The subjective world is rather tricky.
We start thinking about what really is, instead of what appears to be, to question beliefs and feelings, and quickly becomes obvious that we don't know anything at all.
It's a very slippery thing. Like that rainbow you can only see with the corner of the eye, and disappears once you focus your vision.
How do we know when we like someone? Sounds like a stupid question, but is it?
It's easy to convince ourselves that we like someone when we are in the middle of nowhere, lacking options, feeling underappreciated, lonely, etc.
First it's required to figure out what you value. In a way the brain attributes ponderosity to each thing, and with that it proceed with the task it was made for: calculate.
Maybe that's not so obvious to everybody but the brain is a huge calculator which presents the results in feelings, instead of numbers, probably to convince us of authenticity. And this calculation isn't always accurate. And it is far from seldom how often we cheat during this process.
A temporary situation enters the equation as much as something more permanent, and it doesn't have to last a long time, be very intense, or require that we put a lot of effort to convince ourselves of its perenniality. And then our results start losing their reliability.
Say you value beauty, and end up going to a place everybody is what you consider ugly. Even if you stay for a short time, you'll quickly choose the least worse, and in no time you'll believe you should be together with that person. But how is this "least worse"? You analyze how good looking people are (since in this example beauty is the key factor) among those you believe you stand a chance with (be it real or imaginary, and that will depend both on the beliefs you have based on your self-esteem, as on reality, I.e. from the standpoint on the other person to be interested in you), and if the result is too tight between some people, you will insert on the calculation some other attributes that you value a lot. But the biggest ponderosity is what happens between the two of you. If you never had anything with a person, that won't make it to the equation, but you have been going out with someone, everything will be amplified. The positive sides will be much more important, the pleasure of being with the other person will make a very relevant part of the equation (which by itself ruins the whole calculation already since you can't estimate how pleasant would be to be with someone you never been with), but the negative sides will go through the same changes, and you will believe that none of those negative things would be felt with other people, with those you never had anything with.
Let's say you have much more good moments than bad together and, even though rationally you don't find that person gorgeous or possessing many of the secondary (for you) traits, you end up distorting your perception and considering this person better than you would really see them. And then you start a relationship.
You think you are very happy in your relationship, until you move to another town on which everybody is much better looking (you can easily change the example of what you value for whatever you want: intelligence regarding what you appreciate, sense of humor, ambition, etc.) than your partner. Soon enough you start finding your relationship insufficient (in so far as looks matters more than the experiences you had together). It wasn't that things grew sour, your calculation just changed. You start convincing yourself of the opposite, for worse. And so you break up.
That's why many relationships don't last. Say you have low self-esteem and haven't been with anyone for a while. Whatever comes will be good enough, because your expectations are low. It's like starving: getting something to eat seems to be the best thing in the world, but when food stops being an issue you start to need more, like safety, for instance. And if you have food and safety for granted you'll start considering bad that you don't have culture. Nothing but Maslow's Pyramid (read about it, it's worth!).
But we can't forget how much our brains value positive experiences with someone. It's a mechanism that makes us create strong and long-lasting bounds with those who gives us pleasure, or helps us in time of need. That perpetuates relationships far beyond ideal (as if there was such thing as an ideal situation...). This happens not only regarding people, but also places, jobs, hobbies, etc.
So we face a dilemma. We know we are fooling ourselves, but, on one side thinking just about the possibilities (never real ones, always believed ones) will prevent us of wanting to be with someone, because there will always be someone "better", and on the other side believe only in the illusions we create for ourselves will make us settle for dissatisfaction.
We like books, soup-operas, movies, tv shows, etc. e feel real emotions with such fantasies because our brains like to believe things are real. It's all content from someone's mind, who wrote that story. Same goes for liking videogames: it's nothing more than an intricate myriad of equations hidden by images and sounds. It's our propensity to deceive ourselves that allows us believe in the veracity of such products (the immersion). If you take your time to analyze you'll see it's all just words or calculations that someone came up with and, as a magic trick gets boring after you get how it works, those medias will also lose their value for us.
My dad mockingly says a sentence "Fool me because I enjoy it". And that, to be honest, is our definition as humans. We like illusions, and they give meaning and color to our lives, but our other option, too see everything for what they really are, is a cold and disconnected world.
What a ironically cruel destiny, this one!

Where should we draw the line between been objective or been fooled (and fool ourselves)?

Postado por Ricardo Ceratti.

Mental states and silence

I imagine nowadays everybody knows already what it is to be and introvert or extrovert. And also that 2/3 of the population is extrovert (or at least falls more on that side of the spectrum).
I will overly simplify to approach the topic I want to talk about: extroverts need things happening, interaction, high stimuli, and freak out when they are alone or in the silence; meanwhile introverts are more sensitive to stimuli and have a lot to do inside their heads, which gets disturbed by real life interactions, therefore freaking out without moments of silence.
Silence: generally speaking unless you isolate yourself it is more rare than gold.
We live in a permanent state of noise, but that's okay, since most of the world's population likes that, or don't even notice it. But that's an immense torture for introverts.
I propose a test, which would be very nice if a lot of people did taking it very seriously and later share their results. Analyze, during a whole day, the frequency of noise on their daily basis. But this way: living normally, go to work, study, see friends, read a book, go to a park, have breakfast at home, watch tv, whatever. Live your day normally (preferably a week day, otherwise you might hole yourself at home on a sunny Sunday when everybody go to a park, and you will end up having the most silent day mankind ever experienced). It would be good to write down when a noise starts and when it ends, as well as to identify how many are active at the same time (for instance, one is a tv on, the second one is a dog barking on the street, the third one is the waste collectors talking loudly to each other while picking the garbage, a forth one is a car honking at another one on a not so distant street), and if I would be so lucky, create a scale to measure the experienced intensity (I.e. how loud the sound was where you stand).
It's not necessary to do the test to know that a normal day is almost fully polluted by noise. There are very rare moments of silence unless it's the middle of the night while everybody is asleep (and maybe that's why I like so much to be awake during the night: to have a few hours of silence while awake).
Now it comes the interesting part. Shall we invert that? Make the whole world to experience the opposite, having silence almost every hour of the day, only noise and something going on during the night, or unless you isolate yourself in a noisy Buddhist temple, or in a farm that is more resembling to a rave. Tell me: how long would it take until all the extroverts freak out completely, kill themselves, develop psychological illnesses, or simple break once and for all with reality, becoming psychotic?
I wouldn't give them a week or two. Wonder why so many introverts are depressed or suffer from mental disorders? Why would that be, right?
Have you felt chronic pain? I broke a ligament about ten years ago and every time the weather gets too humid or the temperature drops quickly I feel a somehow small amount of pain. But that usually lasts for a few days. A few days feeling a bit more than a bit of pain. It ruins my mood. I get a bit sad, get irritable, can't concentrate, etc. Just a few days, and not any serious pain or anything. Now imagine this constant nuisance that the noise is, often not so low, during YOUR ENTIRE LIFE. Who wouldn't go crazy?
It's impossible to live a silent life without isolating yourself, but it's possible to drastically reduce the noise. You might think it isn't, but compare the silent environment (or what approaches that) that is the capital of Germany, to the chaos that is the surroundings of Gare du Nord in Paris, to the city center or the neighborhood of Azenha in my city, Porto Alegre.

While a device that allows you to go deaf better than our eyelids allows us to go blind isn't invented, exercise your empathy, think about the minority (not that much minority) that lives in constant suffering, and try to reduce the noises you produce.

Posted by Ricardo Ceratti.

Ignorance is bliss

Ignorance is a bliss - probably humanity's most cliche sentence.
But there's some truth behind it.
A small child, in normal conditions, would see the world in a warm, optimistic, hopeful way. She believes the unknown will be positive once it is revealed, and it is exciting the infinite things to discover. Not all kids are beams of joy, obviously, but most of them are in a way.
An old man, in normal conditions, sees the world in a cold, tired, pessimistic way. Unless he have had become wise enough to protect himself from reality by focusing the positive while ignoring all the rest. He already experienced too many things and his statistic brain realized that most of them are negative, that there is a not so pretty reason behind even the beautiful things, that the world isn't fair, and rules aren't for everyone, that illusion and deceive are more like to be the rule, not the exception (not always intentional or conscious).
He sees reality and realizes it's not exactly a pleasant thing to see.
What differentiates drastically those two groups? The experience, knowledge. The first one is ignorant, while the second one knows more than he would like.

But ignorance is a false form of happiness, based on reveries with little or no contact to reality. I don't know of a single grumpy realist that would like to forfeit what he knows in exchange for a little more of illusory happiness.

Posted by Ricardo Ceratti.

Estados mentais e silêncio

Imagino que hoje em dia todo mundo já saiba o que é ser introvertido ou extrovertido. E também que em torno de 2/3 da população é extrovertida (ou ao menos pende mais para este lado do espectro).
Vou super simplificar para entrar no tópico que quero abordar: extrovertidos precisam de coisas acontecendo, interação, alto estímulo, e surtam com ficarem sozinhos ou com o silêncio; enquanto introvertidos são mais sensíveis aos estímulos e possuem muito o que fazer dentro de suas cabeças, o que é atrapalhado pela interação na vida real, e por isso que surtam se não conseguem uns bons momentos de silêncio.
Silêncio: de maneira geral a não ser que você se isole, é algo mais raro que ouro.
Vivemos num estado permanente de barulho, mas isso é okay, pois a maioria da população gosta disso, ou sequer percebe. Mas isso é uma tortura imensa para os introvertidos.
Proponho um teste, que seria bem legal se muita gente fizesse levando bem a sério, e compartilhasse seus resultados depois. Analisar durante um dia inteiro a frequência de barulho em seu dia-a-dia. Assim, viver normal, ir trabalhar, estudar, ver os amigos, ler um livro, ir para um parque, tomar café da manhã em casa, assistir televisão, o que for. Viva seu dia de forma normal (melhor dia de semana, senão você pode acabar se entocando em casa num domingo ensolarado que todos vão para um parque, e acabará tendo o dia mais silencioso da história da humanidade). Seria bom marcar quando um ruído começa e quando termina, bem como identificar quantos estão ativos ao mesmo tempo (por exemplo um é a televisão do vizinho ligada, o segundo é o cachorro latindo na rua, o terceiro são os garis falando alto uns com os outros enquanto recolher o lixo, e um quarto é um carro buzinando para o outro numa rua não muito distante), e se eu fosse tão sortudo, dar uma escala de intensidade experienciada (ou seja, o quão alto foi o som onde você está).
Não é preciso fazer o teste para saber que um dia normal é quase que inteiramente poluído por barulho. São raríssimos os momentos de silêncio a não ser que seja de madrugada quando todos estão dormindo (e talvez seja por isso que eu gosto tanto de ficar acordado na madrugada: para ter algumas horas de silêncio em minha vigília).
Agora vem a parte interessante. Vamos inverter isso? Fazer o mundo inteiro viver o inverso, no qual há silêncio em quase todas horas do dia, somente barulho e algo acontecendo durante a madrugada, ou caso você se isole da sociedade em algum barulhento templo budista, ou numa fazenda que mais parece uma rave. Me diga: quanto tempo levaria até que todos extrovertidos surtem completamente, se matem, desenvolvam doenças psicológicas, ou simplesmente rompam de vez com a realidade se tornando psicóticos?
Eu não daria mais que uma semana ou duas. Por que será que tantas pessoas introvertidas são deprimidas ou sofrem de transtornos mentais? Por que será, né?
Você já sentiu dor crônica? Eu rompi um ligamento há uns dez anos atrás e toda vez que o clima fica muito úmido ou a temperatura baixa rapidamente, eu sinto uma quantidade relativamente baixa de dor. Mas isso costuma durar alguns dias. Alguns dias sentido um pouco mais que um pouco de dor. Me estraga o humor. Fico meio triste, irritadiço, não consigo me concentrar, etc. Só alguns dias, nenhuma dor grave nem nada. Agora imagine este constante incômo que é o barulho, muitas vezes não tão baixo, durante TODA A SUA VIDA. Quem não enlouquece?
Não é possível viver uma vida silenciosa sem se isolar, mas é possível reduzir imensamente o barulho. Você pode achar que não, mas compare o ambiente silencioso (ou que se aproxima disso) que é a capital da Alemanha, com o caos que são as redondezas da estação Gare du Nord em Paris, ou com o centro ou Azenha da minha cidade, Porto Alegre.
Enquanto não for inventado um mecanismo de se ensurdecer melhor que as pálpebras nos cegam, faça um exercício de empatia, lembre-se da minoria (não tão minoria assim) que vive em constante sofrimento, e tente reduzir o barulho que você faz.

Postado por Ricardo Ceratti.