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cybrmarc comments on Superstimuli and the Collapse of Western Civilization - Less Wrong

60 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 16 March 2007 06:10PM

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Comment author: cybrmarc 10 August 2009 11:23:13PM *  11 points [-]

I was driving today and realized something.

Driving. It's a superstimuli because the part of me that plans where I'm going to go next, thinks about what I'm going to do there, and negotiates anything that gets in my way is on go-go-go. Think of the times you or someone else has gone all over the place in a car (or plane or train or bike) and didn't really do much, didn't really enjoy the ride, but were go-focused.

I think it's just like superstimulating food or porn or whatever. Driving amps up our go-brain, but everything else is left in the dust. Compare a drive to the store to a short walk along your neighborhood. You have social interactions, you notice sensations of walking, wind, smell, sounds...In a car, or eating a candy bar, or watching porn it's the same. The hyper-amplified experience of transportation, sweet-fattiness, and physical-mental arousal is turned up so loud its near impossible to stay present in the moment.

Which makes sense. I find when I get stuck in a self-feeding loop of these activities it's because I'm starving for presence. Yet with so much inertia in the driving/candy-bar/porn presence-obliterating mode, it can take a lot of awareness and even willpower to stop and tap into the fulfilling (yet comparably dull and unfocused) reality of the moment.

**Note: driving, like porn or candy bars, doesn't necessarily have to be implemented in this way, it can be incorporated into the present. or dabbled in and balanced out by time exploring a park or taking a swim, ect.

Comment author: readr 27 July 2010 04:23:54PM 6 points [-]

You are correct. This is why any sport with accelerated motion is somewhat addictive, and quite fun. Any forward motion, which is faster than we could ever run. Downhill skiing, cycling, motorcycles, zip lines, skateboards, etc.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 27 July 2010 04:27:39PM 10 points [-]

So being stuck in traffic is a super-anti-stimulus? You feel as though you could go really fast, except that you can't.