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Protagonist Syndrome, Selfishness, and a Cure for it all


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#1
zEVerzan

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VSauce recently had a really good video about awkwardness that touched on this topic briefly.

 

Protagonist Syndrome: A particular brand of narcissism in which a person views him/herself as the main character in a work of fiction. Everything this person does all fits into a narrative, this person has ambitions, dreams and obstacles all leading up to a goal. But what are those obstacles? Other people, obviously. Friends are all supporting characters, strangers are background characters, and the villains are those who get on your nerves.

 

Everything bad that happens to you is a result of other peoples' stupidity, negligence, or outright malevolence. You can never be wrong because you're the main character, and constantly fighting the persecution that the world throws at you!

 

So basically, every single other person on Earth is reduced to a one-dimensional piece of scenery, a supporting character at best or an obstacle at worst, neglecting the fact that all of those people are leading lives every bit as full and rich as your own.

 

This worldview appears to be incredibly pervasive, and I know I experienced it in my teenage years before I found a girlfriend. Those who keep it well into their adulthood, though, tend to be annoying to talk with at best, or at worst, hideously selfish.

 

These are the people with persecution complexes, who defend their actions even when just about everyone has turned against them (usually for good reason). Sometimes these people are just savvy enough to find their way into positions of power.

 

So yeah, I'm sure that human selfishness is pretty much the root of all problems humans face.

I've discussed before that a good cure for humanity's problems would be a mind link that all humans possess. Through this they would step into the brain of someone they were interacting with as a spectator and experience the collective thoughts and feelings of everyone else as if they were their own.

 

This would have a wonderful effect of ushering in a new era of understanding and cooperation. People could still act as individuals, but knowing what others think and feel would greatly discourage them from being selfish. The barriers between humans are possibly the biggest barriers of all, break them and we can become truly enlightened.

 

Thoughts?


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#2
castiel

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The way I see it, as a transhumanist, most people simply haven't being doing enough to accelerate the arrival of vital technologies such as true artificial intelligence and biological immortality.   They may have fulfilling lives, but their goals are, from my point of view , pathetic have a family get some wealth and die of aging.   They escape the reality of death through the delusions that arise from the promises found in ancient religious texts.

 

Do I care?  Well I want to gain all possible information, I want unlimited resources, absolute security, immortality, in essence godhood.   I wouldn't want to interfere with others lives, but I do not want them to interfere with my life, my acquisition of information and resources nor my use of resources(nor my living creations).    The problem is that others intend to have me submit to their laws, that is fine as it pertains to my interactions with their society, but once I'm fully self sufficient these laws have no justification to govern me over my own domain... and once I've enough resources they won't be able to apply to me, and any attempt to apply them to me could result in severe consequences for the would be enforcers.


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#3
Jakob

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Selfishness is not a bad thing.

 

It's a bad idea to start fighting about this so soon.



#4
Kombaticus

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I've stopped thinking of myself as important, and I've never been happier.

 

Maintaining an identity is hard work.


"Let teachers and priests and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is an illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and I am content." -Conan the Cimmerian


#5
zEVerzan

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Well yeah you're important, but so is everyone else. Realizing that other people are just as important as you are is, in my opinion, a milestone in becoming a mature person.

And Jakob, yes, selfishness is a bad thing. I mean come on, you're really just asking for it when you say things like that.

However I will give you the benefit of the doubt and ask you to explain your reasoning.

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#6
Mute

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I actually agree with Jakob that selfishness isn't an inherently bad thing. It's an emotional tool like any other and it can be used for good or evil. Almost everything we do is motivated by some form of selfishness. When I curl up in bed and read a lovely story for a few hours, that could be said to be motivated by my own selfish desire to feel warm, comfortable, and to be entertained. But that's still a positive experience. Even altruism could be said to be motivated by a type of selfishness- we help people because it makes us feel good about ourselves, or because it relieves us of feeling guilty. Some might take a nihilistic spin on that and say that humans are all just selfish bastards only looking out for themselves, but I actually think it's quite beautiful. Isn't it wonderful that we as species have built-in mechanisms to receive pleasure from the well-being of others? That our own well-being is connected to those around us? That's beautiful to me.

When selfishness becomes wrong is when you use it as justification to harm or lessen the pleasure of others.

#7
Mute

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Regarding the actual OP, I really like that mind linking idea! It's one I've toyed with in my head for a couple of years now. I like to imagine what people would think of me if they experienced my thoughts the same way I do and vice versa. I agree that it would usher in an era of unprecedented empathy and understanding! We'd all realize just how similar (or perhaps how different) we are from one another. Although it's also kind of a terrifying thought. An idea that feels me with dread is imagining if somebody, through a process like what you're describing, gained access to every memory and thought I've ever had. I've had a lot of disgusting thoughts, you know? Stuff I could never share with someone. If someone knew about all of them could they even stand to be my friend anymore?

Or, would their access to the context, reasoning, emotions, and regrets about my own thoughts make them understanding? And perhaps if I looked into the mind of another, I would find similar things? Mind linking could allow us to normalize everything we think is weird about ourselves. It's an idea both calming and scary. It's terrifying to think of giving up my final sanctuary, but it's calming to imagine that somebody might someday truly understand me.

However, I don't know if this is even scientifically possible. ^^; Does anyone have a plausible explanation for how we could(n't) actually do this?

#8
kjaggard

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I dislike the belittlement of the notion of ones life as a story, and find the idea put forth of what that entails to be something that was clearly formed by somebody that has never written or even reads much fiction.

 

There are plenty of stories in which the main character is not a good person, they do terrible things and misuse the life they have. The characters around them can be the sympathetic ones and in a few stories it's the 'supporting cast' that the reader is happy to see get closure and a happy ending.

 

Besides that many stories are not written from a singular perspective, but from the many points of view of a group of people or in a few cases several people who never meet but whose different perspectives on events provide the reader with a broader overview.

 

Add to that the idea that a person living their lives as a story they are crafting, and overcoming adversity through framing it as something that emboldens the story along the way, does not even imply that others around them are not doing the exact same things, and are not themselves the protagonist of their own story.

 

what the proposed Ideas sloppily attempts to do is describe a failure of empathy, a lack of mirroring. It has nothing to do with living life in a way that creates a story worth telling, and everything to do with dehumanizing everybody else, something you can do without the story approach to life.


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#9
castiel

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Regarding the actual OP, I really like that mind linking idea! It's one I've toyed with in my head for a couple of years now. I like to imagine what people would think of me if they experienced my thoughts the same way I do and vice versa. I agree that it would usher in an era of unprecedented empathy and understanding! We'd all realize just how similar (or perhaps how different) we are from one another. Although it's also kind of a terrifying thought. An idea that feels me with dread is imagining if somebody, through a process like what you're describing, gained access to every memory and thought I've ever had. I've had a lot of disgusting thoughts, you know? Stuff I could never share with someone. If someone knew about all of them could they even stand to be my friend anymore?

Or, would their access to the context, reasoning, emotions, and regrets about my own thoughts make them understanding? And perhaps if I looked into the mind of another, I would find similar things? Mind linking could allow us to normalize everything we think is weird about ourselves. It's an idea both calming and scary. It's terrifying to think of giving up my final sanctuary, but it's calming to imagine that somebody might someday truly understand me.

However, I don't know if this is even scientifically possible. ^^; Does anyone have a plausible explanation for how we could(n't) actually do this?

 

 

Advanced brain computer interfaces which would allow for full immersion virtual reality by stimulating primary sensory areas of the brain, could allow for this with some software, to translate between different organizations of brains,  if connected to higher areas of the brain.    Of course connections to higher brain areas could be used not only to replicate the feelings, memories, and thoughts of someone else, but to actually control the conscious thought patterns of an individual so it's a kind of double edged sword if such is hacked... absolute power and absolute control, not just of the physical actions of another but of their very will their very ability to make decisions, they will simply want to make the choices you want them to make.


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#10
Mike the average

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I totally agree with all these posts, mind linkings impact will be significant at a global scale. Some may not want to remember who they were and happily declared mental but even those that hold out will still question the importance of being who we were suppose to.

It will also spawn a bunch of really bad movies!
'Force always attracts men of low morality' - Einstein
'Great spirits always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds' - Einstein

#11
Italian Ufo

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It is all about moderation. One should always regard himself/herself as important. We have to love ourselves without deepening in the oceans of narcissism or ego-absolutism.

Same when it comes about being protagonists. We have to be confident about our potentials and intervene when is necessary yet we need to learn when someone is able to operate better than us.

it is really about balance.



#12
Jakob

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It is all about moderation. One should always regard himself/herself as important. We have to love ourselves without deepening in the oceans of narcissism or ego-absolutism.

Same when it comes about being protagonists. We have to be confident about our potentials and intervene when is necessary yet we need to learn when someone is able to operate better than us.

it is really about balance.

Yes, exactly. Rational self-interest.






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