Blocking Memes

The brain has no hardware firewall, unless you count sticking your fingers in your ears and closing your eyes.  The only firewall is conscious effort at the software level, which is itself a software meme you either have to install/learn or write yourself.

And that’s what I’m working on using the help of some memes I’ve picked up over the years.

In essence, I’ve shut off access as much as possible to television, news, movies, music, social media, and advertising.  I’ve went on what many call a “media diet”.

But shutting these out, I’ve turned off a major pathway to memes.  Most people engage in many of these forms of media with their mind running barely above a meditative state.  And when the mind engages, it does so with the memes that it is being presented with, running simulations of the media it is feeding on.

What kinds of methods of meme transmission am I talking about? Neural Linguistic Programming, Cognitive Behaviour Modification, Cognitive Dissonance, etc.

It’s the reason that I can recite Forrest Gump nearly word for word because when DVDs first came out, it was one of the few I had, so I’d leave it running on repeat.  This occurred over months, and Forrest Gump is a strange meme to pop up at random times in your life.

I’m doing a few other things besides just closing off memes.  I’m using the computer analogy as best as possible.

I’m sitting down at a computer, and I’ve unplugged the Internet.  What is left is a system with only the processes (the memes) running that are already installed.

I’m loading up only processes I need when I need them, and I’ve got a task manager running on my thoughts.

This is not as easy as it sounds.  Luckily, I have a childhood with years spent on meditation.  I have a memetic training advantage over the average adult.

I’m working with self guided narration.  When not writing or speaking to other people, I am constantly starting a “Task Manager” meme that is part what I’ve learned and part my own creation.

I will say things such as “I am now…” and list the action that I’m performing.

I will then ask a “Five Why’s” question series.

I will then answer “Because I believe…” and list a single reason.

I will then stop at any reason that looks out of place and doesn’t follow a concrete logical answer.  This is to try and identify memes that I’ve created that are the result of unwanted programming, such as Cognitive Dissonance.

This isn’t easy.  It’s like trying to identify a virus running on a computer system by hand, rather than with virus checking software.  Of course, I’ve actually done this on a computer, so again, I have an analogous experience by which to repurpose a meme to do this in my own head.

The problem, though, is that I have no idea what a “clean system” is supposed to look like.

This isn’t too tough, though.  Finding processes running that I didn’t consciously choose to run is easy.  Forrest Gump is never a conscious choice, for instance.  Processes that run quotes, history, and things with emotional charge stick out like sore thumbs.

What I’ve found out in this first week of the task is quite interesting.

First, rather than thinking “slower” by examining my memes, I find that I seem, at least to myself, to run “faster”.  Because I’ve shut the system off, it is less distracted.  Think of a computer running faster because I closed a browser that had 100 tabs open at the same time.  Instant speed increase.

I also find that by eliminating memes I consciously disagree with, I’ve been cleaning up my background processes.  In doing so, I also get a very large speed boost out of this.

I also find myself very much not in a meditative state.  In a meditative state, one is trying to silence the entire mind, to sort of blank out, or run in a guided state, with the guide outside the body or a nonsensical Koan meme.

I’m doing the opposite in this respect, making conscious thought the primary software that is allowed to run.  I’m simply eliminating inputs and background processes.

Meditation, on the other hand, first eliminates conscious thought, and then tries to eliminate anything that “bubbles up” from the background, trying to keep the surface of the water still.  Yes, this is hard, and seems self defeating, but it is possible.

However, trying to “meditate” while driving would only be perfectly achieved the moment when you drive the car right off the cliff.  I’m not trying to “blank out” my mind or achieve anything like a still pond.

I’m more like a rowboat.  I’m making the splashes I want to intentionally want.  And should a subconscious fish jump up through the surface, I have a shotgun in the boat with me and I’m blasting the fish to hell.

So, what do I think about?  Well, I have a conscious purpose most of the time, so I’m not “bored as hell” as many might think.  I almost feel like a person might have felt in an agricultural profession three hundred years ago.  I have simple work, which I think about, and can now think about in more detail.  And I have my own philosophical questions in my head to ponder as I work and as I rest.

As such, I have more ideas now than I possibly know what to do with.

The one form of media that I am allowing myself are books, carefully chosen for academic rigor and learning.  I’m currently reading Redefining Reality: The Intellectual Implications of Modern Science.  And so, I’m introducing ideas of such things as Relativity, Quantum Field Theory, Chaos Theory, etc.

Again, this is old hat for me.  I was reading about the General Theory of Relativity when I was twelve years old.  Thus, the worldview meme of viewing life from a train travelling at the speed of light makes sense to me.  Viewing the world in eleven dimensions based on string/membrane theory is a bit harder, but not by much.

As you can see, my mind is far from board, and is running more uncluttered and faster to think about really hard questions related to the operation of the human mind.

I also find that I can task switch much faster.  I find that the “pause” between thinking about X, then Y, then X, then Y again is much faster, by full minutes!

This has been delightful, giving me an impression of actually being able to have something analogous to multitasking.  No, I have not found that I can think or do two things at once.  But when having to think about something in the “real world”, I can do so with my full attention, then within about 30 or 45 seconds, switch back fully, without missing a beat or losing my place, to my thinking on philosophy.

They say that the average person needs a full 15 minutes to do this in modern society.  Get an email that distracts you, and it’s a full 15 minutes before you can return with your full mental capacity to the previous task.

Being that I have a task manager running, I have fewer things running to distract me, the system is operating more efficiently, and when I do switch tasks, I kill the previous task immediately, forcing it completely out of my mind.

This makes the switching process much more efficient.

It has one slight drawback.  I can’t have “idle conversations”.  I tend to communicate in very intense ways.  I’m not a distracted talker, and tend to notice more.  The problem, if it’s a problem, is that I have no use for talking about the weather or chatting with people because I’m bored.

First, this is a meme avenue, and so I don’t want to do this.  Second, I’m never bored, so I don’t need to distract myself like a child looking for a sugar rush of activity to start the brain.

In writing this, I woke up, evaluated the most important things of my day, decided that I wanted to document this on my blog.  Sat, wrote it out word for word.  And I will publish it, jump in the shower, and fire myself off towards a meeting.

No downtime, no distraction.  The idea is NOT to be efficient.  This seems like a nice side effect.  The point of what I’m doing is to examine what basic memes are running, and to be very selective.

I’ve set a timeframe for this at six months.  This seemed long at first, but I find the experience to be a pleasant one. I’m sure I’ll get back to my sugar rush of social media gleefully.  But for the moment, I find it meaningless compared to what I’m learning and discovering.

And what I discover, I’m documenting in my essay section.  Currently, I’m talking about the analogy of The Tower.  But I’m already moving past that analogy and working on something much more complex using a more exact analogy.   I credit my mind being uncluttered for the ability to move past analogies rather quickly when I find them unable to logically carry my thoughts forward as I rarely now have circular patterns of thinking that go round and round but not moving forward