Beliefs are similar to a virus. When your mind is malleable they’re most likely to infect you. Young people all have malleable minds. From ages 0 to your teen years you’re very susceptible to these belief viruses. Although, strong viruses can infect you at any age. These viruses express themselves through our behavior. We act in accordance with the mind viruses within us. We are all infected.
Some infections aren’t as bad as others, some even beneficial. But, there are a few that can be dangerous to yourself or others. I won’t get into many of the examples and pathways we can down go with mind viruses for now. What I’d like to specifically explore is the term I thought up, points of imaginary tension. I define this as a subjective belief that causes negative emotions in a person.
Points of imaginary tension exist usually because of mind viruses we caught at earlier stages in life. These beliefs we internalize dictate our behavior as we get older. Some of these beliefs can cause negative feelings. The feelings may begin to arise as we age and gain more knowledge or they may begin right away. For example, a teen girl getting infected with the mind virus that induces her to believe there is objective beauty. To be beautiful you must look a certain way. This mind virus begins to change the girl’s behavior. Here is an example of what it would look like.
Meet Stacy, she’s 12 years old. Recently she started middle school and made some new friends. They introduce Stacy to social media. These other girls have already been infected with the mind virus relating to beauty standards. The symptoms begin to show themselves. Their interest in makeup and beauty grows. Their positive self-image declines because they falsely believe they have to look a certain way. This infects Stacy. Due to Stacy inheriting this belief, she begins exhibiting the same symptoms of the beauty mind virus. Now she also wants to put on makeup to “enhance” her beauty. A combination of hormones, peer pressure, encompassed by mind viruses create, as Charlie Munger would say, a lollapalooza effect on their behavior. Before the mind virus Stacy had no reason to feel bad about her looks.
This is a point of imaginary tension. Stacy’s false belief that makeup makes you beautiful causes her negative feelings if she’s not wearing makeup. The tension is caused by her beliefs. Which are subjective. Subjective truths not rooted in reality are imaginary. Thus, remove the imaginary belief and the tension is gone. Consequently also removing the negative feelings. Let’s look at another example.
Meet Hatchum, he’s a Muslim boy. Which means he is infected with a multitude of mind viruses rooted in his religious upbringing. As young Hatchum grew he began to grow curious about certain things prohibited by his religion. The devil, as he would’ve been told, was tempting him with evilll western desires. Women, drugs, power, RULING THE WORl- okay, that’s a little over-exaggerated. All Hatchum wanted was a taste of that deliciously advertised Big Mac. So one day unable to resist any longer, he gave in. Hugely surprising his friends. He devoured the delicious burger and it was all he imagined it to be. Later in the day, negative feelings of guilt and shame hit him. He felt bad for “sinning”. Yet, he continued to do so. Even beginning to sin in more than one way. Which lead to even greater shame and guilt. Made worse by the evil indoctrination of religion, these fuckers taught him “If you fill your belly with sin, it will be easier to continue sinning”. At the time that sounded completely rational. Only later, he discovered that it’s all bs to keep you in the grips of the religion.
Each sin as perceived by Hatchum was a point of imaginary tension. He only felt negative feelings when “sinning” because of his imagined beliefs. Luckily he later cured himself of the mind viruses that contaminated his mind.
Points of imaginary tension are the result of mind viruses that pervade our environment. They get continually passed on from host to host. Usually, the viruses are rooted in society or culture. Which makes them hard to remove. Some have evolved to be so powerful that we may never get rid of them. Mind viruses delude us. Making them fairly difficult to cure. Strong ones nest themselves at the core of our identities. It’s hard to remove mind viruses from within us. The only way to do so is to reflect and critique our beliefs. Dictating if a belief is logical in nature. For example, Hatchum would think “Why am I going to hell for eating a burger that’s harmless? How is that a reflection of my character?” When we identify flaws in our beliefs they will slowly begin to breakdown. Our beliefs guide our lives. Yet, if these inherited mind viruses don’t serve us beneficially we should question them. If a belief we hold causes negative emotions to arise. It might just be a point of imaginary tension.