08 March 2013

About those zombies

Sunshine has recently learned about zombie programs. I don't know where he learned it, probably David Eagleman (which is probably also the same place Sunshine learned that there is no now).

Anyway, zombie programs are those programs that run in our brains that require no conscious thought. What this means, in simple terms for simpletons like me, is that we do something on autopilot. Sunshine likes to use the example of tying shoes, which I could understand if I knew how to tie a shoe; however, I cannot remember the last time I wore shoes that had laces. Either way, I get the point.

The theory behind zombie programs isn't about zombies, or about us doing things without having to think about them. The thing about zombies programs is really about consciousness. The theory is that we only require a consciousness when two or more zombie programs are in conflict. For example: Mollie is a dog, and dogs follow the smells; Mollie also comes when I call her. When Mollie is following something she likes the smell of, and I call her while she is in the process of doing so, a consciousness would decide which program gets to run. Although if I remember correctly, dogs supposedly don't have any conscious, or something.
I digress.

So, what do these zombie programs have to do with me and Sunshine? After all, we are just simple people trying to make it one day at a time.

Well, the argument is that addicts operate on zombie programs. Think about it--what do addicts do? They use. They do whatever it takes to use more.
Stay with me here.

So what Sunshine says we have to do through the process of recovery is to write NEW programs and those become the new default zombie programs.

My zombie program can't even tie a fucking shoe, how the hell am I supposed to write new default programs to live a better life when I can't even tie my fucking shoes? Oh, wait, I don't wear shoes that tie. Whew, I was worried there for a minute.

I don't like to think of these zombie programs. When I am forced to think of these zombie programs, I don't like to think of them in terms of zombies. Sunshine? Likes the idea of zombies--they fit right in with his whole black helicopter mentality. I am not technologically resistant like Sunshine. I grew up in the computer age, learning how to program Apple IIe desktop models in my sophomore year of high school. (yes, I am that damn old. Shut the fuck up, I try not to think of it in terms of how many generations of Apple products I have lived through. Just saying I'm fortythree years old sounds so much better. However, having my first computing experiences on Apple products probably explains why I hate windows with a purple passion to this day.)
I think I digressed again.
Age of computers, right. I grew up on computing devices. I prefer to think of these zombie programs as TSR programs (terminate and stay resident). I think my way of thinking about it fits much better with the addiction model and the 12 step treatment method. See, it doesn't matter how many new default zombie programs I write, if I don't keep them running then that old terminate-and-stay-resident program of using drugs will become the default operating system again.

So there is my very basic (and probably fairly misinterpreted) explanation of Sunshine's zombie programs. Now, my default program is telling me I need a nap, and much like the windows OS, this machine is about to crash for no apparent reason. Wish me sweet, zombie-free dreams!


  1. I can't believe I'm going to say this, but, I get this on some level. I think. Maybe. Over two years ago we ran across a great program that taught addicts, of all kinds, that they HAD to retrain their brain first and foremost or no matter what they did going forward it would fail because they would, by default, go back to their old habits. It spoke of FRC: Face It, Replace It, Connect, as a way of replacing old, bad habits with new, healthy habits. So, when the urge to use struck, you did something healthy instead. You FRC'd it. Not sure if that makes sense?

    1. It makes Sense. I mean, we tell newcomers to make 90 meetings in 90 days (a meeting a day for 3 months). What we don't tell them is that if you do something for 90 days in a row, it becomes a habit. We're tricky fuckers like that.

    2. ha ha ha!!! Sneaky bastards!