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RTP Discussions • View topic - Life After Death

Life After Death

Discussion of the article "Conversation With God"

Life After Death

Postby KyleOGuin » Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:36 pm

Harry, you question the fact that people continuously ask you if this story is real or not. Try to keep in mind that many people do not absorb information in the same way that you or others might. I know that you may not care (I know I wouldn't) about the people that may need to be "spoon-fed", but some people may find this interesting but not completely grasp the concept of it. It may contribute to more skepticism, but being straight forward with people will allow more of the general public to understand and interact with this forum. I am simply providing another way to think/go about this rather than questioning why people do this. In the long run it may cause less trouble for you to simply answer the question more straight forward rather than to go about it as you have.

In another note, I would like to thank you for posting this. It provided me with a lot of faith in what the human race may be capable of and also gave me a small push in choosing what my major/minors may be.
KyleOGuin
 
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Postby HarryStottle » Tue Oct 09, 2012 12:50 pm

Greetings Kyle and welcome on board.

And thanks for raising this particular issue.

I must confess I am fascinated that I STILL get questions today (not quite daily but still a few a week) asking if it really happened.

When I posted the story in early 2000, it was a "stream of consciousness" piece inspired by some reasonably good weed. Checked it out the following morning and decided, with a bit of editing, it might be a bit of fun to post it on the website.

It was totally ignored. Between June 2000 and Mid 2005, it had a total of less than 100 readers. Then a few hundred read it over a couple of months and, in September of that year, I tried to spark a discussion. That was ignored for a month then Councilor responded with the first of many admissions that the reader had genuinely considered the possibility that it was "Real"

I thought my answer to that was pretty straightforward.

"It never occurred to me that so many people would ask the question "Did it really happen?""

hardly the response of someone who believed it HAD happened!

Nevertheless, that had no effect. The traffic was still a dribble and I'd get one or two queries a week asking if it happened. Whenever anyone asked me directly I have always been very blunt. My usual line was and remains: "The story is fiction but I like to think it contains a great deal of truth"

For reasons I have never quite understood, while I was inconveniently in Morocco for Xmas in 2005, it went viral. I happened to find an internet cafe on Boxing Day and decided to check emails and that the website was still up and running. The website was down. The forum was seething and my inbox was full of excess quota warnings.

I sent off an emergency "Help!" email to Webquarry admin, who instantly increased the quotas and bandwidth and put the site back online. Then it became obvious why it had fallen offline in the first place. From less than a thousand readers in 5 years, it had been flooded with over 20,000 in 5 days and my humble site wasn't set up to deal with that, so it fell over.

Then I started reading the forum messages and it was clear that although there were sceptics around, the majority were taking it as "gospel". And when I went looking for why it had gone viral (which I never found) I came across some extraordinary threads where some individuals were even proposing that the "Conversation" could/should become the basis for a new religion. That scared the bejasus out of me and that's the point at which I placed the "Fiction?" heading on the site and put my few fictional offerings beneath it. I also added the footer to the story which pointed any readers who got that far to my play - where they could read about my take on "Life After Death" which a number of the forum responses had indicated were strangely absent from the Conversation.

That seems to have stopped the feverish response I saw in the viral period and most readers now seem to "get it". But I still get at least one a week, sometimes 3 or 4, asking the same old question. But given that the story has been averaging about a thousand readers a day for most of this year, I don't feel that's too bad a problem any more.

Nevertheless, it has been an instructive experiment in "meme engineering". It has illustrated both how desperately some people need to "believe" and how easy it is to get them to believe. That in turn has had a delightfully unexpected consequence which I am very happy with. Almost "proud" except that I can't claim it was ever my intention. Viz: at least several hundred, possibly several thousand, wavering believers have read the story and "got it" to the extent of realising that if belief can be this easily switched on, then perhaps various other stories they have been told might be similarly fictional and this, they tell me, has helped to steer them away from becoming "believers" in any religion. If I achieve nothing else in my life, I can claim considerable satisfaction from that alone.
HarryStottle
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Postby Daxterwous » Wed Oct 10, 2012 11:49 am

Quite funny to see that you wrote it with some weed, and people see it as the basis for a new religion :) Makes you think about how other religions were found.....
Like Joan De Arc was famous for talking to god, while actually she had a form of schizophrenia. Some people just WISH to find a god and settle for the first thing they can't explain.
But it is cleverly written though, I myself also thought about the possibility of it being real. I think if we were to start a new religion, it could form a good basis.
I sometimes use the "God is like a bigger brother; He is smart but eventually you can become like him" on my religious family members... interesting discussions :)
Daxterwous
 
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Postby HarryStottle » Wed Oct 10, 2012 1:07 pm

HarryStottle
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