Fragility and the Power of Suggestion

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Each time I go to the bathroom, I expect to walk into my bedroom and find myself sleeping on the bed. Not “myself” myself but a different me that’s still me. I always thought that time, aside from being the temporal dimension, is a very fragile and unforgiving one. Almost every story we hear and every movie we watch involves messing with time, turning back time, or going forward in time. People have always fantasized about time machines so they could go back in time to fix something or go forward into the future to discover something but hardly anyone dreams about living two timelines at once that are only a few minutes apart.

Sometimes you have those innocent and perfectly human moments where you have to use the bathroom but you are too sleepy to get up. Sometimes, you get up and sometimes, you sleep it off. When I wake up, I split these two realities in my head. Two, because it’s more simple to imagine. In the first reality, I get up and go to the bathroom and in the second reality, I sleep it off. Let’s invent a rule that there’s a certain hour, minute, second, and millisecond that no human is supposed to wake up but for some reason and I did. It causes a glitch where the two realities cohere. The other me got up and went to the bathroom while the other me decides to close her eyes and sleep again.

As soon as I get up, I wouldn’t notice that my reality has split into two. I would walk towards the bathroom, do my business, and walk back to the bedroom. As soon as I close my eyes and start falling asleep again, I wouldn’t notice that my reality has split into two. I would sleep and probably wake up when I hear someone walk into my bedroom. This is a spooky thought to think especially when you’re living alone like me. Sometimes, I peek into my bedroom or the bathroom to see if I am there when I am really “here”. It makes me feel like I’m going insane but I don’t see it as something so far from reality. After all, we don’t get just one.

Timelines can be so easy to mess up or duplicate because we never really notice when it happens. There is something that protects us from seeing the implications of the very small things we do each day. The butterfly effect, I bet you hear it all the time. How small causes can have large effects – as Wikipedia puts it. So let us see an example from a meta-human who sees these implications. The Flash, a speedster, is notoriously known for doing things to save other people and ending up messing the timeline. Every time he makes an innocently small change that causes good for someone, a big disaster happens in return.

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One of the greatest examples is The Flashpoint Paradox where The Flash saves his mother. Him keeping his mother alive steered another timeline into a different direction. The Bruce Wayne / Batman we used to know dies as a child. His father lives and becomes Batman. His mother succumbs into madness and becomes the Joker. Aquaman and Wonder Woman fought each other and lead a war between races which resulted into the end of the world. And it’s all because The Flash’s mother lives when she is not supposed to. That is why I say time is fragile and unforgiving. It takes very little change to make everything go so wrong.

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In the movie “Mr. Nobody”, the main character (Nemo) states several small decisions or little happenings that affected his life and other people’s lives in a big way. He stated losing the love of his life, Anna, because an unemployed man in Brazil stayed home and boiled an egg to eat. This caused a condensation and resulted into heavy rains on the other side of the world on the same day that Nemo receives Anna’s phone number after a long time of being apart. He says that he may have caused the man’s unemployment because he bought a different company’s cheaper jeans. These all lead to that exact moment that he loses contact with Anna. There were plenty of scenes like these in the movie including the part where a fragment of an eggshell dropped into the waffle batter while it was being made in the factory caused his father to stop for a moment when he bites into it which then caused him to lose track over his parked car and this lead to an accident. The car ran into a woman and kills her. In short, the small oversight of an employee from a waffle factory caused the beginning of the destruction of his family’s life, as well as the woman’s.

All these apply in real life and are probably inspired by real life. Most people do not recognize the impact of the little things we do and what more, the power of what we say. I’ve performed some experiments on the power of suggestion for quite some time. You would think that I’m not much of a talker and certainly wouldn’t have the interest in performing social experiments but I am. Perhaps, I’ve had too much fun on the experiment that you would no longer see it as an experiment but rather a lifestyle. You don’t need an army to destroy someone’s reputation and people’s lives, all you need is a single comment uttered at the perfect time and heard by the right people. The thing is, when you say something about a thing, an idea, a place, or another person, it starts to have some truth into it. When you utter the words, you bring those words to life, and as fantasy-like as it sounds, the more people who believe in those words, the more real it becomes.

If we know each other and I make a remark that someone we both know is taking advantage of women by constantly touching them and making it look “friendly”, you will consider the idea that he is. Now, if I say this in front of other women he’s close with, who had “touching” encounters with him, they will consider it too. A few may shake their heads and say “I don’t think that’s true” but the suggestion remains in the back of their minds. Every encounter they have with this man puts that suggestion into spotlight. Every encounter becomes a confirmation of the idea you planted into their minds. Such confirmations become so hard to resist and there will come a time that it is all you will see. Now that it becomes the truth, it will spread through word of mouth. Maybe it will reach the ears of new people who are yet to meet this guy and they will have that initial impression. Most of the time, they wouldn’t give him a chance to prove he’s innocent. Sometimes, they would and the confirmation phase comes to play. There you have it, you just destroyed someone’s reputation. This could lead him to getting fired, accused of sexual harassment, and not ever getting hired at all. If this man was suicidal, he’ll most likely take his already ruined life. In short, one artfully delivered remark can cause chaos or someone else’s life.

So how does this differ from the typical and petty “spread the rumors” that most teenage girls do to destroy each other’s reputation? Typical rumor-spreading does not require calculations. These rumors simply want to reach the most ears they could. They don’t target specific listeners. They could spread through texts or Facebook pages or any possible medium. And they are often first heard from sources that are not credible or people who have been known to be destructive liars. If I had the reputation for being an honest, intelligent, and credible source, people are more likely to believe whatever I say. No new findings there. If I’m the type of person who is private and rarely speaks against anybody, people will assume that whatever I speak about is big and serious. If instead of blatantly telling people something, I let myself be “overheard” while talking to a close friend and I appear to be burdened but not necessary crying or displaying “out there” emotions.. If I placed myself in a position where the people who will most likely overhear what I say are known to be talkative.. If at first interrogation, I refuse to answer their questions.. In short, if I give people the impression that my ideas are private, they assume that it’s important and must be true. After all, there’s no reason to hide something that isn’t true. Another thing to look at is if the enemy has already shown a hint of the reputation you’re trying to give him/her. If he/she does not, create that situation before making your “suggestion”. In the right place, at the right time, and with the right people, words have a powerful impact. There is no violence required to make such impacts and you are less likely to be convicted of the “crime”.

Now before you diagnose me of psychopathy, I’m saying all of these based on my observations and these techniques have become second nature to me. As crazy as it may sound, I perform such acts on good people and I rarely waste effort on revenge unless I need to stop someone that’s causing too much damage to others. You can reverse the intention by suggesting that someone has positive traits but people are more likely to believe the negative – negativity bias.

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For the highly analytical people, the power of suggestion is a subtle weapon of mass destruction. They know its importance and they utilize it. Perhaps, the best example of this evil can be found in the television series “Gotham” when Nygma decides to destroy Penguin after finding out that he ordered to kill his girlfriend. He orchestrated subtle hints that lead Penguin to kill one of his staffs, blurt something out that isn’t good for his reputation as mayor on national TV, make a fool out of him, break his heart, shoot him, and throw him into the river. Intense, isn’t it?

I guess the whole point of this insane article is to never take for granted every little detail. It’s a trait I find hard to find in most people and as arrogant as I may sound, I am amazed of their surprise and ignorance when the outcome of their actions is handed over to them.

Fragility and the Power of Suggestion

Flipped.

This is the sea, so clear that you can see it reflecting the tall buildings and the clouds up in the sky. Its blue is so gentle and peaceful. If mermaids existed and died, this would be their heaven.

Imagine fishes jumping from the waters to the skies. Imagine the birds crashing through and diving in the waters. The birds don’t die, they fly. They fly, not in the sky, but under the water. In the sunset, you’ll see sea creatures of all colors swimming in the sunset. Their colors marries the orange and puple sky. And as they swim across the sun, it’s as if they are getting eaten by this big red orange crystal.

This is not the sea but still it’s clear, gentle, and peaceful. This is a picture of the skyline. The same old view that I always take a picture of except this time, it’s flipped vertically. I lied to you, this is the sky. If I drew fish shadows in the sky, you’ll be more convinced that it’s the sea but I didn’t have to because if you believed me the first time I told you that this is the sea with a reflection of the clouds and the buildings, you probably want to believe that it is the sea.

They say the only way to tell a good lie is for the liar to believe in the lie himself/herself. There’s also a saying that if you kept repeating the same lie over and over again, it becomes the truth. No lie detector in the world can recognize the lie which is your truth.

There are multiple universes, each with a different reality, and we’re always so thrilled to imagine what these universes look like. Our narcissistic selves can’t help but imagine what our other universes’ parodies of us are like. And yet all these universes we imagine look all too familiar. What about the exact opposite of our world? The very obvious tweak – a simple flip.

Who are we to say that the sky is not the sea? Who are we to say that we cannot swim in the sky or fly in the sea? I used to dream of boats and big ships sailing the skies like it’s the norm. It always left me feeling lost but fulfilled. It makes me think that for some time, I belonged somewhere else. I lived in a place where everything was flipped. It was magical and it’s my favorite fantasy.

Flipped.

Life in fast forward

I’ve been spending some time looking for new units to live in. My current rent contract is about to expire in a few months and I’m considering moving to a place that’s five minutes away from work. That means saying goodbye to the view that I love. Every time I think about the day that I will move out, I look around the unit and think, “how can I ever live you?” Then I think about the first day I moved in here. It was a nice unit but it was foreign to me. Everything smelled new and it didn’t feel like home. It took me weeks before I can finally sleep. I must admit that I have developed a bit of an attachment and familiarity to this place. It was my home for a few months and I’m afraid that if I stay longer, it may hold a greater value to me and that’s something I cannot afford.

Lately, I feel like I cannot waste any more time even in transportation. I’m never one who likes games that has time limits but I feel chased through most of my life. I’m on the move. I’m always on the move. Even when I’m sleeping or procrastinating, I’m always one step ahead of what’s about to happen. I do not think that I’m better than my peers because such comparisons don’t make sense. I’m on a different race, a different timeline, and the destination is not yet clear but still, I move. It’s something that I feel is wired to me. I have this thirst for something but have no clue what it is and I’m afraid I’m gonna spend most of my life looking for it.

To most people, what I do is torture. Most of the people I know would never dream of living alone or leaving a familiar home. But what I’ve learned in my years of existence is that everything changes and the people who are the fastest to adapt to different environments and changes are the ones who survive. I’ve been told plenty of times that I’m quick to learn new things and that I’m wise beyond my years. Somehow I managed to be aware of things that matter without making a conscious effort. I see and remember every small detail that most people think is useless and simply ignore. I connect the dots and form a prediction. I don’t even see it as a prediction. To me, it’s common sense, what’s about to happen is what’s supposed to happen. It’s as if I lived in the future, thrown back into the past, and now I’m chasing towards my home – the future.

Maybe I move, leave, and disconnect too often to strengthen myself or prepare myself for whatever I sense is about to happen. I expose myself to difficult decisions to train myself to make an impossible decision that I may be presented with in the future. I do not deprive myself of emotions. I allow myself to feel sad when I have to leave the place I used to call home or the people I spent my every day with. I make peace with the fact that I may never see them again and they will all just be a part of my memory. But I also acknowledge the fact that holding on to things I cannot keep will only hurt me. I remind myself to be aware that emotions and feelings are just that  – emotions and feelings. I remind myself that every person I meet starts out as a stranger and as life goes on, no matter how strong the bond we’ve established, we can go back to being strangers.

Life goes on.

Life in fast forward

How do we know what we know?

I took this picture yesterday morning before 6AM. I was having breakfast with a co-worker. There are plenty of cats in the city and before this cat has gotten my attention, other cats have been stealing food from other people sitting near us. This cat walked towards the front door and stopped there. The cat didn’t walk in or anything, just stayed there as if thinking about his/her order. I laughed, took my phone out, and took a picture. Curious, my co-worker looked and shook his head. I asked, “If you were to give a deeper meaning to this sight, what would it be?” He said, “Boundaries”.

The cat knew boundaries, indeed. But it made me wonder, how does the cat know this? Why don’t the other cats know this? Maybe the cat doesn’t know boundaries at all and perhaps, the cat has his/her own reasons for not walking in. Then my perspective switched to humans and the rules we follow and more specifically, what we refer to as “common sense”. Where does common sense come from? Why do we “just” know what we know?

I asked, “If you were to give a deeper meaning to this sight, what would it be?” He said, “Boundaries”.

I read some pretty interesting books related to quantum mechanics. Some of the lines that really stick to me is what Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist, said about common sense. “Common sense has no place in Quantum Mechanics.” And if I’m any good at remembering the words I read, I recall him saying that we are often trapped in common sense. Ironically, it made perfect sense to me. Complex thoughts occupy my mind every day and I find it hard to explain such thoughts. After reading my thoughts through these books, written and thought by someone else, everything became clear. It’s as if someone said what I’ve always wanted to say and freed me from a dungeon of insanity. Of course, I am sure we’re not the only ones who share the same views on common sense and that gives me relief.

“Common sense has no place in Quantum Mechanics.” – Michio Kaku

How do we “just” know what we know? For me, common sense is built based on a collection of experiences and observations. We don’t have to touch fire to know that it will burn us. We know that fire will burn us because we’ve seen it burn other things or we’ve been taught since we were very young by people who have observed fire burn things. One part of me tries to be all scientific and say that as species who desperately want to survive, we developed a way to detect danger through evolution. Another part of me demands more details. Does that mean that initially, man does not consider anything to be dangerous? Does that mean that humans and other species had to die many times before realizing what would hurt or kill them? Does evolution have some sort of list of dangers that updates for every death and sacrifice? When we’re wiped out of the planet and we start over somehow, all those information are erased, right? So we die all over again.

Another part of me tries to interrupt the heated debate and failed. She said, “No, initially we already perceive some dangers. The list expands as we experience new things.” A sarcastic part of me cuts her off, “Initially? Like what, intelligent design?” The hows turn into whys. Why do we know these things? Why do things work out this way? And why do we somehow agree on the same rules of living? If I would be brave enough to share the wildest thoughts I had on random hours of my daydreams without the fear of looking like a conspiracy theorist or a mad one, I would proudly shout over and over again that reality is a drug. A drug that gives us the delusion of common sense and a familiar world. Reality is a fraud, a fucking lie, and there’s no way out of it. There’s no way to rehabilitate.

I may go as far as saying that each one of us is a computer. We are all connected to a main server called the universe. And just like a computer, we sync for updates or patches made or initiated by the server. We sleep and wake up with new abilities, memories, and strange things that we’ll otherwise classify as “not normal” if we remember how things were the day before. Perhaps, the reason why we feel so out of sync with the world when we haven’t slept for days is because we’re missing some patches or changes in our system that haven’t been applied unless we restart (sleep). Maybe when the configuration is done, we normally wake up feeling refreshed and when we wake up abruptly before the configuration has finished, we feel groggy and out of sync.

But never mind that, that’s just my brain talking.

How do we know what we know?

Trapped in a fish bowl

I looked outside from the office where I spend most of the week from the afternoon until dawn the next day. This view has always amazed me. It’s a lot different from the linear picture I see from the balcony of my bedroom. The view from my bedroom is like a painting – static and surreal. This particular view, however, appears more like a fish eye view in a subtle way. A reality that is skewed just a little bit. I began imagining grid lines all over the image. Pixels. Maybe I will daydream again that none of this is real. Maybe I’m still hoping that I will witness the glitch and break free, out of this prison called reality.

I can never describe or measure just how heavy my chest has to carry. Not a day goes by that I did not tell myself that my mind is about to explode. In every waking moment of my life, I tried. I tried to meditate, relax, pamper, cook, read, and write. I have done everything I can to lift the weight off me. But my mind is never unoccupied and if there was ever a day that I was awake and peaceful, surely a nightmare will come to me in my sleep.

Bad dreams, worst, confusing dreams within dreams within dreams. I remember falling asleep on my bed one afternoon. I heard someone knocking and I stood up to get the door. I opened the door and saw an old friend who, disturbed and extremely sad, visited me last year. When I opened the door, he did not come in. Instead, he turned his head and laid his eyes on the hallway to his left (my right). He stayed silent and I could not help but notice the tenants right across my unit. The door was open and a couple was making out on the bed.

I woke up from that dream and again, I heard a knocking. I stood up and went for the door except this time, I looked through the peep hole. I saw my friend waiting outside. I cannot remember anything else accurately but I do remember having three dreams looped into one. I woke up in every “internal” dream thinking I was finally awake. That everything I saw was not real but everything I’m seeing now is, only to find myself waking up again and realizing how my mind played a fool out of me.

I remember the final one, though. This time I woke up and the room was very dark. I reached for the switch to turn on the lights but the light bulbs sparked a reddish orange for a few seconds and died. After that, I woke up on my bed, the same afternoon I slept. My mind was awake but I was unable to move. Again, it feels like my mind is sucking me up into another loop of dreams and I tried my hardest to fight it. I struggled getting up because no matter how hard I try to wake up, to get up, my body wasn’t moving. And then I woke up, afraid to fall asleep again.

These dreams remind me of my lost consciousness. The burden of thinking that every day is just another dream and the depression that comes from struggling to wake up and see what reality really looks like and not standing a chance against the system.

Trapped in a fish bowl

Detachment

Crying, I ran outside the classroom, hugged my father, and begged him to stay. I was in grade school and just like most kids, I’m not too happy being left in one place without a parent. It took me a little longer to get used to it. I remember that at some point, I would stay in my seat, look out the window, see my father walking away, and cry quietly. I did not run outside to chase him anymore but I remember the heavy feeling of thinking that I may never see him again. The scary feeling of being left alone.

Almost two decades later, I found myself living alone. I have not seen my parents for more than a year now. I did not text or greet them on their birthdays. I did not visit them on my own birthday and I did not allow them to visit me. They did not know exactly where I live. I moved out of the first condo unit I lived in and I’m bound to move out to a third one this year. Christmas, New Year, and every holiday, I spent alone. I did not respond to their texts, calls, and any relative who dared to “give advice” to persuade me into seeing my parents received a mouthful. After a few months, I got tired of it and ignored all the messages I received. I even blocked some of them. From my perspective, they are destroying my peace with their hypocritical suggestions.

“It was so easy for her to forget.”

That’s what my mother told my sister-in-law via text message. She admits that she did not read or remember most of the very long message my mother sent her except for that one sentence. My brother and his wife (my sister-in-law) often stays in my place with their cute little son while their house is being finished. My brother does not talk to my parents and avoids most of our relatives as well even when he visits his two other kids who schools in the city where my parents live.

It is easy to understand why I became detached to everything once you know the story but it is hard to imagine the progress towards the mentality that has become my way of life. All my childhood, I loved my father very much. I was closer to him than I was with my mother. I remember that until I was in high school, he would bring me food during lunch time. I rarely ate lunch with my classmates. He would serve my meals on a picnic table on the grass near the guardhouse and they would all say “That’s sweet.” But now he has become the man I would hate to see the most.

A few more family tragedies happened since I was a child. Things that are too much for me to bear at such a young age and it never stopped. I tried to fix it, me and my brother until we realized that some things cannot be fixed. I realized earlier before he did. I’ve always had this vision of where something would lead to. I knew that we would all drown unless we escape. I knew that fixing our family was not possible when the other members of it are too afraid to let go of the anchor that sinks our home. I felt uneasy after calling it “home” because it was not. I never had a home in my life. I had a roof over my head and I was thankful enough for that.

I do not know where it all started but the feeling persists in all my relationships and life decisions. Every time I see that something has no future and it does not satisfy me, I start planning my way out. It’s as if I have a bottle of liquid that represents my life and I only have a few drops left that I must be very careful not to spill. I became more conscious, suspicious more so, about the people around me. Who among them intend to drag me down? I looked out for signs that there’s a possibility that this person is one day going to betray or neglect me.

I always had this reaction that I did not plan or do on purpose. When I sense that someone, more specifically of the opposite sex, likes me more than they should, it brings out feelings of disgust. It happens even when I liked the person very much. The moment they begin showing feelings, my danger alarm goes off and tells me to run away really fast. Maybe it was a result of my experiences of maybe it is just the way I’m programmed. I’m not a robot. I cry, I miss people, I’m sometimes afraid of losing some of them and start thinking of ways to cope when they are gone because eventually everyone will be gone.

If I had to choose who I’d rather be with, I’d rather be with me because I’m the only one who will always choose me.

 

Detachment

The Order of Disorder

If we are in a computer simulation, a video game more so, I imagine having one base reality for each person. Each base reality then branches off to multiple worlds or universes. In all my realities, I’m the hero or the main character and every one else are non-playing characters (NPC). In all your realities, you are the hero and everyone else including me are NPCs. This means that whatever you do, whatever your values or morals, you will always be the good one because everything from your perspective is all that matters.

Repeat this process to every other person in the world and you get the answer to the question “Why is there so much disorder in the world?” Think about all the hunger, the huge gap between the poor and the wealthy, the terrorist attacks, the Holocaust, 9/11 attack, and all that’s ugly in the world. They are all rooted from person(s) who genuinely believe that they deserve a piece of the world or just about everything. From their perspective, they are the hero and everyone else are insignificant. For them, there are villains, allies or members of their party, and civilians (NPCs). For them, civilians are the so-called “non-playing characters” and they don’t serve a purpose on the planet. The world is a battle field where only the heroes and the villains exist.

Imagine how easy it would be if we all agreed on what is good and what is evil. But that’s one of the many things we can only hope for. Such peace and order do not play by the rules of the universe. For every fallen villain, a new one rises, stronger than its predecessors. And once all villains are erased, the universe will surely make its way to create chaos and disorder – calamities, famine, ice age, and all sort of collisions that result to extinction. Imagine the billions of years of hard work to get to where we are and once we finally get close to having order, we are wiped off the face of the planet just to start all over again. The only order that the universe follows is disorder. The magic word is “entropy”.

The Order of Disorder