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The Illusion of Movement

So let's say your goal is to drive from Point A to Point B.

(I know. It's deluxe.) Anyway, you have two main routing options. You could take Straight Street, which is the most direct road from Point A to Point B. However, there's a lot of traffic on Straight Street; it's constantly in stop-and-go traffic. Alternatively, you can take Windy* Way. Windy Way is extremely windy and indirect, but it will get you to Point B. For the sake of argument, assume that each route takes an equal amount of time, and that it is not uncomfortable to take Windy Way, even though it has a lot of twists and turns.

Or in image form:

Gone with the Wind

So which route would you rather take? For me (and many other people, I think), the answer is Windy Way. This is because people like to feel like they're making progress. Even if Straight Street is faster, it's frustrating for people to not feel like they're getting anywhere, just like how it feels good to accelerate after you pass a lane closure on the freeway.**

Setting Expectations

As a tangent, I believe that the key to life is feeling happy. Therefore, doing things less efficiently but in a way that makes you happier is good. So even if Straight is more efficient, it's better in my opinion to take Windy because you feel happier about the progress that you're making.

Real-World Applications

The Illusion of Movement is more prevalent in real life than you would think.*** In fact, our whole school system can be thought of as a way to keep everyone occupied since we have more than enough people to feed us all. Yesterday, I took one of those math exams that is just all fabricated problems that no one will ever use in real life. The Illusion of Movement at work.

I think, as far as the Illusion of Movement, it should be embraced on the small scale, since it does make us happier. However, on the large scale, we should be mindful of it, since that impacts a lot more than just our feelings.

Thanks for reading what I wrote. Don't forget to watch out for the illusions in your house.


Originally aired May 15, 2019

*Windy as in curvy, not as in lots of air. Just so we're clear. 

**I'm not having a fight about this, so here's the DIY guide. Pick whichever one you prefer.

...after you pass a lane closure on the 

(a) freeway

(b) highway

(c) expressway

(d) thruway

(e) tollway

(f) suspension bridge

(g) cul-de-sac

(h) ball pit

(i) road to hell.

(Sorry, I said the hell-word.)

***My streak is currently 2 of existential mumbo-jumbo. (If the Avocado vs. Cucumber series is ignored, then 3.)


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