Thinking About Thinking - 2020


I Have Become Them!

By Balaji Prasad

“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into." ~ Jonathan Swift

Chakravarthi was running hard, sweating profusely, his heart palpitating as if it would burst out of his chest. His assailant was in hot pursuit closing rapidly in on him. The poor man ran and ran until he could run no further. He felt his lungs collapse, his legs caving under him, and as he began to flounder in despair, the evil arms pushed relentlessly toward him. And, as Chakravarthi felt the wet clammy hands closing around his neck, everything suddenly stopped, just as quickly as it had begun. He woke up from his nightmare, drenched in perspiration.

The shadowy thoughts from the dream lingered, allowing him to realize what the “me" in the dark world had just gone through. The monster he had been running from was himself too, a different “me" - it was a new “me" chasing an old “me". And it was indeed a strange new “me" that was no longer the “me" he had been. The new “me" was “them". Horror of horrors. He had turned into them!

The death of me

The scariest dreams are those that are rooted in some seeds of reality. Those roots lend some plausibility, allowing such dreams to seep through from the dead of the night into the daylight. They linger on, gnawing at us, making us relive the experience and cause us to worry that they could come true.

Can the nightmare that Chakravarthi went through come alive? That is a question that should bother us, if we live in a world such as that which Chakravarthi lives in.

Arguably, we are nothing more than our minds. Yes, there are other bits and pieces, a few stray molecules of Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen here and there, but it does seem fair to say that our minds disproportionately dominate what we think of as our lives. If others possess our minds, and we become them, in effect, we cease to exist. There is no “me" anymore. All of our thoughts are really others' thoughts that are channeled into us, as we become willing mouthpieces that serve as repeaters in a network populated by billions of such repeaters. And the same thoughts go round and round, echoing off the walls of the universe, amplifying themselves into a crescendo that is the only thing we can hear. We cannot hear ourselves anymore. We are dead, for all practical purposes!

A complete death of the “me" is a bit of an exaggeration, of course. Nature is a bit more resilient than that, and will certainly not let us completely succumb to our madness. However, a diminished “me" lives somewhat less than a “me" that is driven by its own sense of itself. Our arms and legs may be the visible extensions of ourselves that allows us to roam the earth, but it is not hard to see that our arms and legs have an invisible counterpart inside us that drives them to where they go. That mastermind is what drives not only our physical selves but also the innate senses we experience deep inside that we see as our feelings and emotions. Surely, we would prefer to have a bit more control over those things than we would if our minds were driven by remote controls operated by others?

Help! I have been hacked!

“But how do other people hack into my head!?" frets Chakravarthi, puzzled that what seems a self-contained brain encased in hard calcium would allow itself to be compromised thus.

When you are part of a network, you are always vulnerable, as any security expert will attest to. We humans are part of a complex and intricate network of nodes that constantly communicate to us, and are communicated to from us. There are many “ports" that are open to the outside world, that allow all kinds of things to come into us. Sometimes there is junk that enters, and sometimes it is something worse than that – malicious software from hackers that takes over our system and overwhelms it.

Who are these hackers? Some of them may just be other repeaters in the network who don't create their own junk, but serve as pass-through nodes that are directly or indirectly connected to the source of the malware upstream of them, and to us on the downstream side. But some may be deliberate hackers that are motivated to take over our systems. We must always be vigilant, if we are to retain a “me" that operates with agency, and lets us live fully.

From Hackraworthy back to Charkravarthi

All this sounds a bit cryptic and a bit conspiracy-theory-like. However, if you read between the lines, it will be quite clear. We are bombarded from all sides, networked as we are with social media that is primed with all kinds of nonsense from news media that has moved from its roots as bearers of news to purveyors of views and amusements.

These last two decades have hacked Chakravarthi much more than he enjoys. He needs to be reborn from the Hackraworthy he has morphed into. He needs to think freely and independently. If he sounds like a talking head from TV, spouting the same language, words and ideas, he must introspect. He must diligently inspect each packet that comes through the shadowy networks we inhabit. He must read not only what is written, but must read between the lines to see what is said but not quite said.

Please pray for Chakravarthi to have the right chakras, and to be worthy of being reborn as a real thinking human being. And the billions like him. That may be much more important for our survival as a species than is realized.

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Balaji Prasad is an IIT/IIM graduate, a published author, SAT/ACT Online and Offline Coach, interview, resume, and career coach at NewCranium. Contact: 704.746.9779 or balaji.prasad@newcranium.com