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Maggie's Farmville: new ways to be irrelevant

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 11:46 am    Post subject: Maggie's Farmville: new ways to be irrelevant Reply with quote

Considering the source, one might conclude that work does not set you free.

On the screen I saw a notice that a "friend" had some extra metal pieces, and, since I'm looking for this kind of thing, I clicked, and found that these metal pieces existed only a realm of shared delusion: Farmville. I really don't know much about it, and any comment I made about it would pose a distinct risk that I would be unfair to it and it's army of millions of "farmers". I don't want to be unfair, or at least, to be seen to be unfair. I've embraced plenty of "irrelevant" diversions in my time. But this seems different.

Scientists think that we, as flesh and blood beings, are merely "carriers" of our particular collection of genes. Our existence turns out to be an expedient way of preserving and propagating the (useful) genes we contain. We are secondary. Epiphenomena.

The things we do, and, subsequently, the way we feel about those things, fall further out on a "line" of abstraction, from the "primary" reality of selfish genes, to the tertiary and quaternary considerations of, say, making a meal, and whether we enjoyed it, respectively.

Life itself, though, would seem to be an epiphenomenon of matter, which derives it properties from the play of sub-atomic particles which "froze" into stable existence early in the history of the universe. We can see this because when we "smash" atoms in supercolliders, we simulate a small portion of the froth that would exist when the Universe was smaller and more densely energetic.

At high levels of energy, there would be no stable matter. That is, the electrons that would otherwise cleave to protons would be instantly bombarded by the frenzy of activity around them, and would be sent flying off, only to add to the ongoing maelstrom. A "landmark" of this high-energy era exists all around us, in the form of the "Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation" (CMBR). In a froth of colliding energetic particles, even photons can't get far without colliding. This is why our view of the first 300,000 years of the universe is blocked. Before then, the universe was operationally "opaque".

Just as at these high levels of energy, matter doesn't exist, at even higher levels of energy, the proton and electron don't have a stable existence. We only see them when the energy drops to the point where it has "frozen" into the form of a proton, or an electron, say. It appears that as you increase the energies, you are going back further into the history of the universe, to points where the fundamental forces we perceive, magnetic, nuclear and gravitational were subsumed by a more powerful unified force, and were not directly relevant to that energetic realm. In other words, the different forces in our universe "froze" into the forms we see today from some other, more energetic state.

I hope you see where I'm going with this. We are epiphenomena n-levels deep already, a little section of the universal explosion that happens to notice itself. If our actions amounted to a tenth-level abstraction related to the play of energies and forces, and atoms, and creatures, then our actions in *purely* imaginary realms (and whatever satisfactions we might derive from these) must be even more abstract and removed from "reality".

To be sure, even a simple solitaire game can teach me to weigh good and bad possible outcomes from my actions, to try to take actions that are reversible, until I know which situations are most favorable; how to recognize advantage, and how to best secure it; skills that will help me in our shared, consensus reality, the one of surviving, and carrying genes.

But all this cosmic talk has cooled my mood, or at least put it into perspective. I suppose having a Farmville life wouldn't be so much different than collecting postage stamps or watching TV. It's just that, pre-facebook, I didn't have to work to avoid learning about it, and its millions of virtual farmers. I was happier not knowing.
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