06/24/2024

Are We Living In A Simulation?

Many scientists think so, and in a sense I agree - but my version of “simulation” looks a little different.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve personally had a large number of people tell me that we’re living in a simulation like the concept is a foregone conclusion. Interestingly, in my experience, the comment is always precipitated by a situation or scenario that the claimant disapproves of:

  • They can’t find a spouse… because we’re living in a simulation
  • They dropped their full cup of iced coffee… because we’re living in a simulation
  • The meme coin they invested in tanked… because we’re living in a simulation

They rear ended someone in traffic… because we’re living in a simulation

Who Believes The Simulation Theory?

Sure, there are plenty of successful people who make the claim as well, including multi-billionaire futurist Elon Musk, but as noted above, my first-hand interactions with people who believe in the simulation claim tend to be somewhat down on their luck or completely consumed by technology in their day to day lives. 

Both of these camps make sense to me in their own way: if your life isn’t turning out the way you hoped, wouldn’t it be nice to know that there was nothing you could do to change that? The simulation has been hard-coded to ruin your gameplay, and that’s all there is to it. Maybe when the game resets, you’ll be in a better situation. 

On the other hand, if you’re the guy using his Apple Vision Pro while his Tesla drives itself down the highway, why wouldn’t you start to lose touch with the possibility of a tangible, non-simulated world? 

While both of these are extreme examples, many of us are living some version of a simulation every single day, and I think that’s why the overarching belief in the totality of simulation has begun to pick up speed over the past few years. Let me explain what I mean: 

Common Ways We Simulate “Real Life”

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: human beings are not meant to live these sedentary, screen-centric lives we’ve adopted. We opened the door to convenience through things like email, on-demand streaming, cell phones that don’t leave our person, etc., and immediately became enslaved to those conveniences. What are portrayed as tools to save us time and allow us to reclaim our work/life balance, actually allow us to work “so efficiently” that we’re expected to constantly be doing and producing more. And the ripple effects are astounding.

Here are some of the ways the productivity boom of convenience have led you to a simulation of real life:

Food

The food we eat in this country is disgusting. It’s a simulation of real food at best. I’m sure you remember the pink slime controversy a few years back – now the FDA fully endorses the slime as “ground beef.” Virtually everything you order off of a fast food menu has been churned up, disinfected and reconstituted as a reasonable facsimile of the actual food it’s sold as – we know that. 

This is also the case for the vast majority of the grocery store outside of the produce aisle. TikTok users recently lost it after videos went viral showing Drumstick ice cream cones refusing to melt after 20+ hours. As Food & Wine explains, the reason is quite simple: they contain no ice cream. If that’s not “simulation,” what is? 

And why are we accepting this trash? Because it’s super easy, and we’re super busy. We don’t have time to tend a garden and cook with the fresh ingredients it produces. We don’t even have time to grocery shop anymore. We need shelf-stable, microwavable meals we can eat with one hand while scrolling on our phones with the other. 

My wife and I have recently decided to cut essentially all ultra-processed foods out of our family’s life. This means we’re baking our own bread, making every meal from scratch using real ingredients, and making a huge mess in the kitchen 3+ times a day. It takes a lot of time, and it’s a lot of work. It’s easy to let your eyes roll back like Frodo when he’s being tempted to wear The Ring and buy some happy meals for the kids, but we’re opting out of this particular simulation. 

Gyms

This one’s a little weird, because gyms have existed for thousands of years. HOWEVER, I think there’s still a point worth considering. 

While gym-going of old was specifically geared toward hardening soldiers to prepare them for battle, we’ve adopted the gym as a way to ensure our bodies don’t completely break down due to gross inactivity. Because we’re not doing things that our very recent ancestors did – tending crops, clearing land, walking places, carrying things, etc., we’re developing all kinds of weird physical problems from our desk jobs. 

And here comes convenience again, to literally sweep you off your feet: we developed laptops to take our desk jobs with us wherever we go. Now, you can work all day from your bed, not even engaging your core enough to sit upright the way you might at a desk. 

Instead of engaging in the normal physical activities of our ancestors, we’re trying to offset our sedentary careers by spending time under fluorescent lights simulating the things that kept them healthy. These simulations (gymulations?) include:

  • Walking on an inclined treadmill so it feels more like hiking
  • Climbing fake mountain faces with rubberized steps shaped like rocks
  • Riding bikes that go nowhere while the resistance waxes and wanes to simulate hills

Then there’s the stair climber – what’s a more dystopian simulation than that

To rub salt in the wound, many of these devices again place a big, giant screen right in front of your face to help your simulation feel a little more believable. You can follow the Google Maps street view while you run so it looks like you’re enjoying a sunny day in Malibu when you’re actually squeezing in an 8pm workout in a strip mall in snowy Cleveland. 

Now the coup de grâce: on your way out of the gym, you swing by the tanning beds and use the simulated sunlight to make it look like you’ve been outside. 

Social Media

Do I even need to explain this one? Instead of having a close circle of actual confidants, we’re carrying hundreds, thousands, in some cases even millions of “friends” like barnacles on the bottom of a sinking ship. On birthdays, we get an endless barrage of comments from people you never talk to anymore, and may not have ever spoken with in real life. 

Then there are filters we can use to see what life might have been like if we were a little more glamorous. Couple those filters with some very selective snapshots, and we can suddenly present completely falsified versions of our lives – the version that could have been, had everything been different. 

Now you’re getting all kinds of likes, friend requests, messages, etc. – everything feels awesome! And then your phone dies, and you see the devastating reflection of your real face, sitting alone in your real world, without a friend in sight. Don’t worry! just open up your computer and download The Sims – you’ll get back to disassociating from the real world in no time as you make a fake house and start a fake family.

Does any of this ring true for you? Then yes, you are living in a simulation. 
There is some good news, though: you don’t have to live this way. You can stop buying simulated food, turn off your phone for a few hours, and go outside. It’s probably not going to be easy at first, but I can promise you’ll feel better. And you’ll likely begin looking at the simulation debate a little differently.

Our most popular articles

Are We Living In A Simulation?

Asana Review from a Project Manager’s Perspective

Author
Have any thoughts to share? We love challenging conversations.
Reach out to discuss this article.

Related articles

Many scientists think so, and in a sense I agree – but my version of “simulation” looks a little different….
Memo: Blocking time for focus is easier than you think. You just have to do it….

SIGN UP FOR RANDOM, INFREQUENT EMAILS

Reach out to discuss this article.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.