“I’ll Never Speak To You Again”

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Screenshot from HBO’s WestWorld. What if your actions had no observable consequences?

It’s interesting to think about interactions where you’re never likely to see the other person again. It’s in these interactions that someone’s nature can be revealed. Do we become snivelling and conniving, reducing the other parties to non human players in some game? Or does our inclination to be good come out?

Some argue that what we do isn’t a choice at all but a result of our circumstances. How we were raised, the culture we were born into, the time and place and order of our birth, our schooling, our economic circumstances — all of these things will affect to some extent the choices we make. We are not really in control. I’m more convinced of this after listening to the audio book of Sam Harris’ The Moral Landscape.

When I first discovered IRC around the age of 11, I was mesmerized that I could become anyone I wanted to be in a chat room. I could be… “cool” or older, or located anywhere. It was my version of West World. I also knew that the people who I was speaking with would likely never show up again, at least not as the same aliases. It was an interesting experiment into my own state of mind.

In the end, even in my extreme versions of myself, I still ended up being “me”. There isn’t anything I could think of looking back in those IRCs that I can recall that I’d be very embarrassed about. At my worst, I’d chalk it up to being a strange tween.

While we don’t necessary control our background that got us to this point, if we have any influence over our future selves, it might be helpful to occasional see where we fall on the landscape of morality so that we can accept or adjust.

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