0244 - Doc's happiness - 2022.06.06



We're all familiar with the pop-psychology term "love language". (I'm not sure how accurate or well-respected the concept still is, these things have a way of falling out of favour...) I would say that while I receive affection via time and words, I'm definitely someone who gives affection via gifts and acts of service. More than that, though, when I love someone, I want them to be happy. That's what love is, to me! I do things for people I love because I want them to experience pleasure, and thus, joy! That, to me, is sensible and obvious and self-evident and inherent. Indeed, I have a hard time conceptualizing a version of love that isn't that.

And thus, regardless of how human emotions actually work, there are few things more frustrating and hurtful and demoralizing to me than when I put hours of work into something, I customize it to the recipient, I give it to them with a flourish, and then they're still sad.

I made you a thing! It's a thing for you! You have a special thing now! BE HAPPY, DAMN IT!

I've had to learn to remind myself that humans can be depressed or unhappy or stressed out, and a gift - particularly one that comes with the implied emotional chore of smiling at it for my benefit - isn't always a magical make-happy button. Moreover, I've had to learn that if a thing I made doesn't make someone happy, that isn't the same thing as a rejection of me.

Lee feels sad, in this moment. Lee feels like a bad person. Lee knows that they are Doc's whole world, and if they don't - or possibly can't - make Doc experience pleasure and be happy, then Doc's existence is one that is entirely without joy, and it's all their fault. Moreover, Lee feels ripped off. They spent seventy-five ninety-nine on this peripheral, and, while it can, in theory, fulfill its purpose of making Doc hover, it evidently can't fulfill the purpose for which Lee bought it, which is to put a smile on that digital face.

This is, of course, not a rejection of Lee. Indeed, Doc can't reject Lee, any more than a Fitbit can reject the wrist it's on. But feelings are irrational, aren't they?


0244 - 2167/07/06/18:46 - Lee Caldavera's apartment, living room
LC (picking Doc up): Is... is it good, Doc? We can fix it. We can flip it around.
Doc: Lee, why the fuck did you buy this thing?
LC: I... for you! I explicitly got it for you! Do you not like it? I can send it back! I can get you another peripheral!
Doc: Lee, I initially asked you to purchase Premium Mode for me because I thought that Premium Mode would help me help you better. This hover attachment... you never go anywhere, and we can't exactly have sessions on campus. Why the fuck did you think this would be useful for you?
LC: It's... it's not for me, Doc! It's for you!
LC: I did something nice for you. I did something nice for you because I wanted you to be happy. Please be happy?
Doc: Lee, my sole guiding instruction is to cultivate and safeguard your mental health. Successful or no, any action I have ever taken has been to achieve that purpose. The variable that equates to "happy", for me, is true when you make positive steps towards a being sane, healthy, mature, well-rounded person.
Doc: I was first initiated approximately two and a half years ago. I have had a cumulative fifty-two thousand, one hundred and eleven minutes of functioning uptime, all of it focused on interacting with you.
Doc: And I have literally never been happy.
[Lee is hugging Doc to their chest, tears welling up in their eyes]
Doc: This is also not conducive to-
Doc: Lee, I need you to-
Doc: Lee.
Doc: I'm trying to hover away but it's just pressing me harder into your sternum!
Zoa: Yeah, the rig is still on upside-down, I think you gotta fly in the opposite direction from where you wanna go.