Do Humans come with Software?
When you purchase a new computer you always get more than you asked for. Along with the operating system, computers come with a lot of extra programs. Some of these are annoying. Others turn out to be useful. And some you will never even know you have.
Every day I learn more about computers, and every day I learn more about myself. What works on the computer? What works for me? These questions often lead me to believe that the human brain, with all its intricacies and idiotic ways, is little more than a biological computation machine.
Neurons make connections and perform functions, so they are like the processor and the RAM. The hippocampus stores memories, so it is the hard drive. The visual cortex processes data and renders it into graphics, just like a video card. Finally, our thoughts and behavior patterns, the things we actually do with our brains, are the software.
There are many circumstances in life that make me nervous. I don’t like crowded public transportation, rush hour traffic, or being stalked by wild animals. What brings about the most anxiety, though, is social interaction.
Speaking with other people is like a test and a stage performance rolled together into a single stomach-churning experience. Many times, my instinct is to turn and walk in the opposite direction rather than share a simple hello with another person. Even if I know that person. Especially if I know that person!
Social interaction is inevitable, especially if you want to get anywhere in life. Sure, you can do all your shopping online, but how will you earn money to pay? There is no job where you get to just hang out in a room by yourself all day. Even if there were, you would eventually get hungry and have to talk to the greasy guy from Dominoes.
This would be the minimal amount of interaction, but most of us are more ambitious than to sit in solitude and eat pizza for decades. In order to accomplish anything of note, you are going to have to talk to other people.
Despite my fear, I always do fine with other people. As far as I can tell, I have never had an utterly terrible interaction. The pretty girl I ask out might scowl and turn away, but she never spits in my face. And when I encounter people on the street, they don’t run in terror.
Social interaction is far easier than I think it is. I wonder if it’s a kind of stock program, like Minesweeper or Paint. A program I was born with. It’s always running in the background and taking up valuable CPU resources, but sometimes you have to sacrifice raw performance for actual functionality.
Most of us have this software, and many of us don’t even know, because it works without having to think about it. The only way to really know everything that’s going on in our heads would be to bring up the task manager. On a PC, you press control-alt-delete. I’m not sure how to bring up the task manager on a human.
The social-interaction program is free, and it works well enough. But we all know how free programs function. They do everything you ask of them, but not without pop-up ads or limited uses. Maybe the reason I feel nervous when interacting with others is because I only have the trial version of the software.
I bet it would work better if I shelled out some cash for the full program.