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0 HP Lovecraft @0x49fa98
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The NPC question has reached critical mass. What's an NPC, how do I know if I am one, how dare you presume to call people NPCs? NPCs come from RPGs, they are "non-player characters", passive manikins with finite, scripted behaviors
An NPC is, variously, a person with no inner monologue, a person who does not conceive of their life in terms of narrativity, or, in the parlance of our time, a basic bitch. And yes, the world is full of them.
Inb4 that trite XKCD comic of the people on public transit all sneering at each other. The fact that they are all having the same thought accidentally concedes the point he was trying to discredit. Or maybe that's intentional, a meta-sneer. Irony, it's like bronzy or goldy.
In my personal conception of an NPC, the difference is consumption vs. creation. I invite you to understand this idea in your own idiomatic way, if you're not an NPC.
If as @Logo_Daedalus says the video game is the definitive media paradigm of our present age, then it's fitting that we answer one game metaphor, the NPC, with another, the free-2-play model. In F2P, 90% of players don't pay, 9% pay a little, and 1% pay 90% of the revenue.
In a F2P game, if you are on the free tier, you are an NPC. If creative effort is "paying" then passive consumption is the free tier. On twitter and other forums, the breakdown for content creators is similar to the breakdown for F2P monetizers. Curious.
You could be an NPC on twitter and still be a PC in The Real World™; many people have hobbies, and if you do original work in the domain of your hobby, whether it's beer brewing, sewing, or relentlessly optimizing KPIs to drive customer engagement, then you are PC in your hobby
But when we talk about NPCs, we mean 2 groups of people. The 1st, most obvious, are those who create NOTHING. Their mental universe is populated by mass media; Netflix; tv, video games, sports fandom. All of those can be OK but if you don't go beyond them you are meaningless
The second group of people are NPCs specifically in the realm of philosophy and ideology. Their situation is trickier. Much of my account is an attempt to shake this second group out of their complacency. It's Sisyphean and if I'm honest I just like twitter dopamine hits
Gamification: we must imagine Sisyphus grinding out just one more quest ma, and then I'll come to dinner I swear. His guild is counting on him.
Compression algorithms like ZIP and PNG operate by eliminating redundant bits. The compressed artifact contains only "unique" bits in the information-theoretic sense. "Redundant" bits are removed. If humanity were compressed, how many bits of you would make it?
If you only consume mass things you will only have mass thoughts. This is what originally drew me to the rationalists in the vein of Scott Alexander, who spend endless ours filling their cognitive toolbox with useful gadgets and then build a house that looks like everyone else's
Something I have tried hard to understand is what boundaries exist in our minds; what warping of cognitive space causes us to think in predictable, common ways?
Via rationalism, "Mental stopsigns" are real, they are words or ideas that cause you to turn back and not journey down a particular line of reasoning. They exist everywhere. Some common ones: "Capitalism" "The Corporations" "Racism" "Oppression" "the Jews" “the Patriarchy”
Scapegoats quickly turn into mental stopsigns. Whether you are left or right, you will always be an NPC if you instinctively turn away from avenues of heretical thought. The instinct to not have wrong thoughts is danger-avoidance. NPCs are above all, safe.
Bad versions of ideas vaccinate you against good ones. Ridiculous conspiracy theories prevent you from considering plausible ones. Unflattering caricatures of right wing thinkers prevent you from listening to them
Another consideration is fashion: In Scott Alexander's unusually good essay, Right is the New Left, he explores the idea that ideological alignments come down in large part to fashion.…
We all "honestly pursue truth", sure, but that truth is the truth that flatters us, the truth that is advantageous to us. And why shouldn't it be? Your non-conformist beliefs are in large part driven by your need to signal your originality and independence
When a meme like NPCs goes big, then it becomes necessary to throw your weight behind it, (get status by aligning with a popular thing) or throw your weight against it (get status by showing how smart and independent you are)
"Not me, I'm not driven by fashion, I'm a humble truth-seeker." You're deluded. If you want to see a humble truth-seeker, you have to look all the way down to invertebrates. Presumably nematode worms have no illusions
Epistemology is downstream from self-interest, Honesty is just what we call it when they are visibly aligned
There is no new thing under the sun. You don't have to have a unique thought, you just try to have one that no one else put there. It's not actually easy, but it's a skill you can train.
Of course, there are degrees of independent thought. If you pay attention to the noosphere many things will yet occur to you even as they occur to many others, but it’s better to read the signs yourself than have them read to you
Having good thoughts is sublime; curating the good thoughts of others is still a noble calling. Creativity is 90% synthesis and 10% chaos. Originality is more a question of novel assembly than spontaneous generation
If your informational diet is game of thrones and Harry Potter, you are at risk of being an npc. Porn is npc operant conditioning. If you think the Handmaiden’s Tale is an insightful critique (it’s actually a bdsm fantasy), that’s a red flag
If you believe that voting is somehow a check on governmental power; if you spend a large amount of your leisure time on video games, if your favorite books are from the standard high school canon, if you follow more bluechecks than not, you are in danger
Please contact your nearest reactionary shitlord immediately for a list of reading recommendations and quarantine procedures
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