This past year has made me think deeply about the concept of personal freedom. Not in merely the legal sense, but also culturally. This seems straight forward on the surface but I don’t believe it is. We are controlled and heavily constrained by our fears, and many of these fears are part of the “simulation” we live in. I am not referring to the matrix style simulation, maybe we are just living in a a digital reality, but that is not the focus of this post, what I am referring to is simulated rules of behavior. The constraints that we imagine exist but do not have a physical basis in the world.
Some examples of the simulation would be political correctness, and conventional wisdom. Political correctness seeks to create imaginary constraints on speech. When a person buys into political correctness they begin acting out a simulated reality where they must police all thoughts and speech of others to ensure compliance with the code. People who adhere to politically correct guidelines often view everything through the lens of racism and class warfare; this is the politically correct simulation. When someone crosses the imaginary boundaries of the politically correct simulation they must face ostracism and attack. This simulation controls your actions through controlling your thoughts.
Similarly, many ideas known as “conventional wisdom” are part of the simulation. Contemporary wisdom states that a person must go to college to be successful. After college you should get a job, find a spouse, buy a house, have kids, etc. Throughout this process you are encouraged to take out loans for each of these endeavors, thereby making most modern day Americans debt slaves, but this is conventional wisdom. When people seek to do things outside the norms of conventional wisdom, they are often met with criticism, it could be insults about your income, shame about not having a house or car, or by not pursuing the life most other people try to live. The shame that keeps you in line with conventional wisdom is part of the simulation, the imaginary rules that govern your behavior out of fear of ostracism.
Since realizing I have little-to-no constraints on where I need to live, and the type of life I must live, I have felt a new sense of freedom. As if there are no limits on the opportunities I can pursue. In large part I do not care about Politically Correct culture, and I have been working my way out of the conventional wisdom simulation by paying off debt, living below my means, and not getting anyone pregnant. This realization hit me around July of this Summer, and since returning from Taiwan made me realize that life can really be what you make it.