It Keeps Me Up at Night

What keeps a wizard awake?

It's thinking about how belief creates reality, and how frequently that is the central theme of our stories. Which are, of course, organized, narrative beliefs, even when we acknowledge them as fiction. So our stories, these things we make up to help us understand how things are, tell us that things are the way we tell ourselves.

One of my favorite examples is recipe sites. They got really big in the 00's, but it's not just because everyone started getting used to looking stuff up on the internet. It's because the agriculture industry finally caught up and realized that if they could adjust which recipes people were looking at, they could manipulate demand to help them manage surpluses and shortages. If the banana market has a big harvest one year, the recipe sites can start promoting more recipes that include bananas to drive up the demand. It works so well, because by the time someone's looking at a recipe, they are asking which things they'll need to buy.

Here's where it gets tricky. Even though this system might succeed in better distributing our crop harvests, and could improve efficiency with a pretty light touch, it's also easy to imagine this system being abused. If your competitor is overstocked on apples, and all of your sites stop pushing apple recipes, that might help you, but it doesn't help the rest of us. So now, depending on your personal feelings about the nature of corporate manipulations like this, you either see this is inevitable improvement or uncomfortable profiteering.

Your beliefs seem to determine which of these realities you live in, and you probably find strength in sharing those beliefs with the people around you, reaffirming that it is indeed reality.

But there's one more factor to consider, and that's that I've made this conspiracy up whole cloth. I know nothing about the recipe site industry, nor the agriculture industry. I'm a stoner sitting at home talking to anonymous readers on the internet. Maybe it's true, and I just guessed right in a lucky way. Maybe it's total bullshit. I don't know, and I'm not going to waste any of my time finding out. Whether you choose to continue to believe it, or believe that it is perhaps at least plausible, is going to once again be shaped by the other beliefs you already have about business and corporations and the internet.

And as we've seen, if a whole bunch of people started believing this, before long, someone would actually put in effort to manifest it. The market rewards efficiency, so if this isn't already happening maybe it would be worth some money to someone to make it start happening. If the idea of this being real inspires someone to make it real, what does that make the belief right now? Pre-real? If I can write a story and generate pre-reality, I think it's fair to say that beliefs create reality, even if I don't like that very much.

Other Guides

How to Fight the Urge to Get High All The Time

A Guide to Taking a Break

The Universe is Content With You

Finding Purpose in Any Reality

The Rollercoaster of Letting Go

Down Isn't as Bad as it Looks

How to Grow Additional Brains

Applied Metaphysics

The Most Important Lesson

If You Only Learn One Thing From Me

It Keeps Me Up at Night

Reality is Complicated


Fractal inspired digital designs


Playful, subversive, sincere


Escape reality for a bit


Explore some deeper thoughts

Solve riddles, win prizes

Chat with creative people