A Walk Through a Casino…

The last days in Montreal were extremely cold, and my last day (yesterday) was even snowing!

Important note: I wrote this post in Winter of 2019, but I forgot to publish it as I believe I wrote this while on the flight back to Phoenix from Montreal. Publishing it now, as I discovered it in a word file tucked away in a folder on my computer!

When I met with a friend to hangout, we were originally planning on walking around, but instead we decided to walk through a casino- free cover, free coat check, etc. just to see what it’s like.

This was actually a very shocking and eye-opening experience and has made me question a lot of what I think to be true in my own life.

Here is the walk in the casino…

A Horrifying Reality

The casino was HUGE. It was filled with slot machine games, where you pull a lever down a press a button and hope to get 3 in a row or something like that. There weren’t many poker tables.

These slot machine games were quite flashy, with colors all over the place. Some of them had names of popular movies or games. I didn’t realize they gamified it so much, making it seem as if you actually are contributing in some way.

I think the casino was huge and filled with endless turns and lights to confuse you so that it would become harder to leave. There were several layers, rooms, etc. When we finally wanted to leave there was no clear exit.

The people who played the slot machine games were primarily the elderly, along with some middle-age and even youthful-looking people; however the primary demographic was older people. The middle-age & younger slot machine players were not dressed well.

The experience was horrifying not because of the morality of casinos or the fact that these games exist.

It was horrifying because of the people who played. The vibe of the place was… dark. I could feel the pull on me of “what if you win and you can win millions, and then that’ll be it!” It almost felt like being in this artificially exciting area was productive!

I would often stare and watch people as they played the slot machines. They threw away hundreds and thousands of dollars with each pull of the lever. Their faces looked blank, as they stared at the screen.

Occasionally I caught myself staring at the screen also. I think they’re designed to put you in a “derp state,” kind of like TV, except even worse than TV because you’re actively (or passively?) giving up thousands of dollars.

The faces of those glued to the machines horrified me most of all. It showed me what I didn’t want in life, which is so important in determining what you DO want.

Was it so that these elderly couples had NOTHING to do all day but gamble away their life’s savings? There’s no way that everyone in the casino was rich and playing for entertainment’s sake. I caught the vibe that people were trapped in a vicious cycle, playing the game over and over hoping to be “the one who wins.”

Perhaps they even believe that if they play long enough, and give in enough money, that eventually they will win! The occasional small wins don’t help because it reinforces the possibility- a lie which is being sold to everyone in the casino.

Every face glued on the slot machine was blanker than the typical pedestrian on the street. Look into people’s eyes as you walk about in public, and you will see that some people have a “glow” whereas others have become dull and bored with life.

The people in this casino were “more far gone,” if you will. I don’t really know how to explain it with words, as I’m still processing the emotions. You’d have to walk into a casino to understand- just don’t get tempted by the lights & noises and signs everywhere reminding you that YOU could be the one to “win.”

After the horrors of the slot machines, I went over to the poker areas. The poker tables had faces much more alive (albeit not by much), though I still got a bit of a hostile, negative vibe. I think people were concerned me & my friend were spies for someone else, so everyone gave extremely aggressive stares when we observed.

The blackjack tables were the best, perhaps because it involved actual conscious thought AND people were competing against the casino, NOT each other. I saw only 2 people with faces that appeared alive, however they also won 5 blackjack games in a row.

Still the vast majority of players were “durrrrr,” derped out, and mindlessly playing and playing.

I just… don’t understand, why? Why not go play black jack or poker with some chips with your buddies? In the minimum $20 black jack table, I was surprised to watch people bet $20 OVER AND OVER like it was nothing!

You might argue that people can do what they want, and I’d agree, but you won’t understand until you’ve watched people but hundreds (and thousands) on the table just to lose it in the course of minutes.

The customers at this casino were, forgive me for saying this, perhaps not so conscious of even what was going on- dare I say monkey-like? This may be why you play with chips instead of cash- to prevent you from realizing just how much money you’re losing.

Everything in the casino was designed to keep you there. The music was good, but I think that the tempo was slowed down, which means the song plays just a bit slower than normal which has been scientifically proven to make people walk & do things slower. I used to be a musician so I’m a bit more attuned to this.

I felt bad for the people at the casino. For whatever reason, they were giving away countless dollars for nothing, and it didn’t even look like they were enjoying it. If you truly love casinos, great; but I don’t think these people are even aware of what’s happening. Either that or they have nothing better to do with their life.

Hours, Money, Where, Why???

At some game table, I watched an old man put shocking amounts of money on the board over and over. He won some, lost some, and I think he was breaking even or maybe losing a tiny amount.

I had figured out what each chip represents in terms of cash, and I was astonished he was so easily putting this on the board and losing the money without blinking an eye. Was this man rich, and just enjoying it, or was he gambling away his life’s savings? I think not rich; otherwise I doubt you’d be foolish enough to play a game you can’t win.

Each chip was about $25 (I think, or $50) which means that 2 chips was $50. He was regularly putting in 1-2 chips per game. Each game is 1-2 minutes.

Let’s say this man was educated, and so we could guess he made in his life about $50 per hour while working. This means that he was regularly putting on the table about an hour of his life.

That is also is what is so shocking: if you convert the monetary value to time, you realize that people are putting down on the board ENTIRE WORK-WEEKS worth of TIME!

I’m certain many of these old people gambling were just using their life’s savings to play in the casino, so not only did they waste their life in the 9-5 grind, they also THREW AWAY the entire work week in the casino in the course of a couple hours.

How could you justify throwing away so much money, when it took you so long and so hard just to get it in the first place???

Giving Away Your Life for Money

I think that people like him just saved up their whole life to retire, and then realized they had nothing to do all day and so gamble it away in hopes of winning more money.

These people have unfortunately become so disconnected from reality they think that “Money” actually matters… it doesn’t. Freedom does- and money is one aspect of freedom. For example, I am sure most people in the casino have a higher net worth than me, but I’m also the only person to have gone on a world travel adventure (excluding that one other “lucky winner”).

I see on Reddit a lot and other places this mentality of “save money until retirement.” The problem is people get so obsessed with “money” they don’t know what they want to do with it when they finally retire. Do you want to sky dive, adventure, etc.?

The more you wait to make your dreams a reality, the harder it is to go chase them, and the more disconnected you become from it. I always wanted to visit & explore Asia and the longer I went without focusing on it the more it ate away at me.

Even now I have my doubts about whether I should go straight to Asia or return to Bulgaria to enjoy company with friends as I’m still heartbroken, but I’m getting tired of making excuses not to go to Asia, which is why I might just go even if it makes better logic sense to hit Europe first again.

The casino players have traded their life for money, and so it’s the last thing they have, at least I think. Either that or everyone is in debt. One way or another, something is going on but the look on their faces as they mindlessly “durrrr” away their time and money is a wakeup call.

The Implications

I was watching one young middle-age man on a slot machine in shock: he must’ve been in his early 30’s, and yet there he was, on the slot machine, mindlessly pulling the lever and pushing a button over and over to keep gambling away money.

Retired people about to die giving up their money in a casino is maybe understandable, but I absolutely can’t understand how anyone in their early 30’s would want to waste so much money on a game they know deep down they can’t win.

Suddenly, a thought arose: THIS IS ME!!!

How is derping on Reddit, or seeking achievement through video games, or browsing YouTube ANY DIFFERENT than the lost souls in the casino?

Short answer: IT ISN’T!

The only difference between my vices and theirs is that they are giving up time AND money, whereas I’m just giving up time. Of course video games do cost something, but in 2018 I think I only spent $100-$200 in the entire year on video games.

However, it still makes me just as much a mindless derp to waste my time on those things as it does those who waste their life in a casino. They think they’re winning money, whereas I feel like I’m actually doing something- as if clearing another outpost in Far Cry 4 or winning an intense match on CS:GO actually matters.

And sometimes, I get REALLY into it. I’ve been matched with teams in CS:GO that have been very positive and uplifting, but we’ve also been matched with a very competitive enemy. We have had games where we are down 5 or more and then come back just barely, and it feels amazing.

I’ve also had games with toxic teammates, who made me feel like shit, and enemies who hacked and games that were overall just boring or annoying. It’s kind of up to luck, JUST LIKE CASINOS.

I’m not saying everyone should give up video games, or that they’re even evil, because there are obviously degrees to which you should allow yourself a “derp” state. Consciously scheduling in 1 hour every other day to play some video games is probably okay. Also, it’s quite fun when you make it a social event with friends. Playing alone for extended periods of time is where things get dangerous, which is what I used to do when I was a teenager.

Reddit though? That’s an absolute vice. There’s hardly useful information, it’s LUCK based on whether you get positive responses or not, and same thing: it puts you into a mindless, endless derp state.

Now Reddit does have some positive qualities, such as the ability to ask for relationship advice or seek general advice on specific things that Google might not easily be there for you.

Casino & Life Reflection

Walking through the casino made me really reflect on humanity, life, where I want to go, and where I’m at currently.

We can judge the casino players all we want, but wasting time makes you no more the wiser- you just lose a little less money.

I think that there are “degrees of derp,” with casino addicts being some of the worst derps and Reddit users a very minor derp. In the end though, you’re still wasting precious time in a state which isn’t exactly fulfilling, which isn’t productive, and which doesn’t net you anything positive (usually).

Most internet tools are now used completely mindlessly. For example I’d never remove Facebook because the groups, messages, and friends list are so vital, but I also don’t derp on the feed.

The whole experience was a wakeup call to analyze myself and see where I’m a derp because the last thing I want for my life is to look back on missed dreams, or worse derp down to the point of a casino player.

I really need to cut Reddit, YouTube, and video games. Having done so in the past, I can say that it’s hard because with the extra free time you suddenly don’t know what to do with your life.

You actually have to TRY to socialize, you actually have to confront your short-comings, you actually have to see yourself as you are… and it’s a ton easier to stay in that sweet, sweet comfort zone away from all that thinking.

We are still apes

We think we are so evolved, and do experiments on apes where they see flashing lights and buttons and press things and we act like we’re so advanced.

Are we really? We are still fundamentally apes. We just have a little extra frosting on top.

We waste our time on the internet, we enter derp states on TV, we gamble away our money, and we have silly political fights that go absolutely nowhere.

One day future generations, assuming they can successfully evolve past this state, will look back upon us with disgust, just as we look at apes with a slight aura of superiority and disgust. “Look at these stupid humans,” they will exclaim!

“We can teach them how to play a slot machine LOL,” they will laugh. Or perhaps they’ll hand a captured human a modern phone and giggle as the human forgets all aspects of reality in favor of the magical little screen.

Sure, we’re a bit more evolved. Don’t be egoistic though. We are still very primal. Our brains have yet to catch up to this fascinating new world, and until it does, there will be countless mind trips to pull you into derp states, suck your time, energy, and wealth.

I don’t know how possible it is to stay awake, but I know I’d like to try. I already have noticed a slight decrease in attention span & focus ability in myself over the past couple years, and that’s REALLY scary. I went from 18 to 20, so it’s not like I “aged.”

In fact, I almost wonder if attention spans can remain the same (or improve) as you get older but because we stop studying and growing (and you know technology) our attention spans get worse… I’ve met some very brilliant old people, however they’re incredibly rare. Most would rather derp into bitterness and old age.

How can you prevent the derp states?

-Michael