Hi my name is Dylan, I am a new Steemian. This is my first post/article on Steemit, the possibly amazing, probably crazy, impossibly imaginative (we hope) and potentially, unreal writers club/social media platform. Why do I say unreal? Well, lately I have been thinking a lot about reality, and what better place to discuss this idea than on steemit? A virtual community, funded by virtual money.
But first a quick introduction. I am a writer, thinker and imagination tinker. You can follow me to read more about; food, travel, culture, technology, physics and other things that bounce around my cerebral boom box. I write for a few magazines and food & travel publications.
Anyway, back to the question in hand… What is real and what is, well, unreal. Is anything not real? And by consequence is everything real? What makes something real?
Is something real because we can touch it, taste it, hear it, smell it, see it?… Is this custard pie real? I can hold it, I can cook it and put in my big fat kisser and chew on it. I can taste it, smell it and digest it, and a few hours later something brown and mephitic comes out the other end. That makes it real. Right?
What about bitcoin? I can’t do any of these thing with bitcoin or steem (although the latter may conjure up images relating to the aforementioned mephitic discharge). I can’t touch them and put my mountain of shiny bitcoins under my mattress. So does that make it not real? Virtual currencies, like your bank account are just a series of numbers. It’s math. Math is real, math makes up the world, and the world is real… Right?
And there in lies the rub.
As tech pioneers such as Elon Musk and many scientists would have us believe, that perhaps we actually all live inside a giant (in relative terms) computer simulation. However outlandish and possibly crazy this idea might sound It offers potential answers to some of those in-explainable questions that eludes the current model of physics, such as why we are unable to fully measure the quantum state of an atom, why the universe is expanding at an ever increasing rate, and, how something can come from nothing? (Although Oxford scientists have recently said there are not enough atoms in the world to build a computer that could replicate our universe. But who knows what this crazy future holds.)
The fact that bitcoin is (potentially) not real hasn’t stopped millions of people investing billions of dollars (41 billion to be exact). At the time of writing this article the digital currency (that very few people really understand, and I include myself in this generalisation) is at an astonishing $13,859 U.S. (A drop from a couple of weeks ago when it peaked at $17,900). Steem is currently worth a bargain basement $7.83. But is virtual currency any less real than the funny coloured bits of paper we hope to fill our wallets and proverbial mattresses with? Of course not.
Paper money is just a ledger, a record of value we assign to different things (and not a very good one at that). It used to be a promise to “pay to the bearer on demand” that sum in gold, up until 1933 when money was still backed by the gold standard. Now it’s just a piece of paper, worth no more than, well, the paper it is printed on. It holds value for one reason and one reason alone, our belief that it is worth something.
You see, if you believe in something enough it essentially becomes real. That’s not to say that like confederates of The Secret if you sit on your big fat arses and believe you should be driving a Mercedes that you can will this into existence. Or if you don’t look at fat people you will lose your pre-mentioned fat arse. Reality and belief don’t work quite like that. But maybe somewhere in-between this outrageous idea and the twin slit experiment, belief and reality merge. Belief increases the probability of existence. Perhaps Descartes was more correct than he could have ever have imagined; “Cogito ergo sum” - I think therefore I am.
If enough people believe in something it becomes real. Like religion, god, mobile phones and teleportation (thanks Gene Roddenberry) time travel and hover boards (Back to the future anyone?). We are seeing this in evidence every day (scientists recently teleported photons back and forth from the Chinese space station for Scotty's sake captain!) And now we are seeing this with Bitcoin and virtual currencies. An idea that has blossomed to capture the imagination and belief of millions of people. An idea that is changing the world. Soon we will live in a cashless society, and ideally a decentralised cashless society, as the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto once dreamt of (though the jury is still out on this). The point is does it matter if the world we live in is real or not real? If something is not real does that make it fake? For me the answer is no. It doesn’t matter, but it’s damn interesting.
This world is real to you and me. I feel it, we all feel it. It matters, whatever it is. And this makes it real. Maybe the first ever thought somehow willed into existence the first piece of matter, or maybe matter made thought and thought made belief and belief made things matter..., and therefore real. If you get what I mean? Maybe, quite possibly you don’t. And perhaps none of it matters.
I’d love to hear your comments below. And nice to meet all you fellow Steemians! (both real and unreal ;)