Me sitting at a desk, writing at a laptop. There are only a few personal items standing around. The room is warm and cozy while outside it seems cooler, the day is likely ending.


We are ten days into this experiment. That’s ten days into the 15-day quarantine. Past-me has spent all this time since last Monday alone in a single room, with way too much time to think…

What is introspection for? Entertainment? Given how often people seem to introspect parts of their past they don’t like, I doubt it. Is it then to learn something from that past? Maybe, but if learning were the goal, wouldn’t it take a much more targeted approach, aiming to make decisions or at least experiment with new ideas? Is it self-centeredness, narcissism? This just begs the question and puts an unnecessary and likely distracting moral layer on top. So is there no function? Is it “just” a background computation of our brain, the stuff LLMs do? Maybe, but this too just reframes the idea of understanding ourselves in a computer metaphor.

Is it this, then, to learn something about yourself?

Let’s take another tiny step. The computer metaphor in its un-romantic mundanity reveals how much it is about language. Maybe it’s less about ourselves, but our “self.”

I started to think that our self is not something “real”, but mostly a complicated web of stories about us. Statements about what we do and don’t do, what we like and don’t like, what our strengths are and abilities. This means it’s less about the past and more about the future. By trying to “understand” something like “I am adventurous,” what we try to do is remind our future-self: “If you get the opportunity to travel, you should try to do it as it will probably make you happy.”

And then there’s the second dimension of course: To be able to explain all this to others. “I’m introvert” then is just a short form we agreed upon to say (for example): “I might feel and behave awkward on your party and we both won’t have much of it. I do appreciate you, though, so if I don’t come that says nothing about you.” Functionally, it’s convenient shortcuts. (No wonder then we become so obsessed with these kinds of ideas, in a time where we have to explain ourselves more and more?)

What do you think your stories tell about yourself. How “real” are they? What are they for?

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