Welcome to the holodeck

I'm a fan of science fiction.

My introduction to the final frontier played out on a tube TV in the den. The inventive writers of Star Trek introduced the idea of a "holodeck", basically a software program where characters could act out stories of their own design. For those of you who didn't grow up watching 'Star Trek' while eating Ritz crackers and drinking Nestle's Quik, http://bit.ly/hkahS.

In general, drama mostly boils down to morality plays - good vs. evil. Science fiction is drama with much better graphics.

Amazing visions of gigantic space ships filled with flawed humans rocketing through a universe inhabited by mumbling, slime exuding, gun toting aliens.

(Wait. If aliens are all that advanced, why are they shooting at us? Couldn't they just hand us some sugar, turn on the television and pretty much walk off with the whole planet?)

And yet somehow the hairless monkeys with credit cards triumph.

Unless it's one of those "you are actually not so smart monkeys" and we get our cosmic comeuppance from a holier than thou alien in an eight foot rubber suit with LEDs. Or some blood sucking reptile thing that wants to inhabit our bodies.

Emerging from the theater a couple of hours later, rumpled and blinking in the light, we bask in the warm satisfaction of winning once again against impossible odds.

The depth of our satisfaction being directly related to the quality and depth of our identification with the story.

Starting to sound familiar?

Reflecting on the fiction of what we've watched, we realize that when our minds are identified with a story, we don't naturally discriminate between that story and reality.

Most of the time, we're living on the holodeck.


In the case of entertainment, a part of you knows that you're watching a movie. You remember buying the ticket. You might feel your rear in the seat, smell the popcorn, hear the music, be irritated with that guy texting.

But for some part of the experience, you were "in" the movie.

And your mind, experiencing itself through this soup of flesh, identified with and entered the story.

Our minds are inextricably linked to the surround-sound perception of the auditory system, high quality graphics of the optic nerves, blazing speed of the neural networks, filtered through layers of tissue, infinitely complex chemistry and changing environmental cues, and does not naturally or reliably discriminate between story and reality.

In other words? When you leave the theater, you're still at the movies.

And either you know you're living on the holodeck or you don't.

What planet is your boss from?

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