5 min read
Last week I had the pleasure of traveling to Bicycle World, a planet not far from our own. My friend Owen who lives on Bicycle World was kind enough to give me a tour of his planet. Here’s a recap of my conversation with him.
Me: Hey, thanks for taking the time to show me around, Owen.
Owen: Yeah, not a problem. How was the trip over? Not too long?
Me: Yeah, not bad at all. Only took 12 weeks. It’s incredible how fast Elon Musk’s new space capsules have become.
Owen: Good to hear, man. I’m excited to share with you how life operates on Bicycle World.
Me: Awesome, I’m pumped to hear about it!
Owen: Cool, I’ll start with the basics. Everyone is given a bike once they arrive on the planet. If you’re a man, you can expect to ride for about 76 miles before the bike falls apart and your ride ends. If you’re a woman, you can expect to ride for about 81 miles before that happens. Some people ride longer, some shorter. Just kinda depends how well you maintain the bike.
Owen: For the first 18 miles or so you’ll have training wheels and a couple people with you to show you the ropes. After that, you’re free to ride wherever you want. There’s millions of different paths you can take, so it’s really up to you. There’s only one catch: in order to maintain your bike, you have to spend golden tokens. The only way to earn these tokens is through providing value to someone else.
Me: I see.
Owen: Yeah, we’re actually quite lucky. It’s pretty easy to have a comfortable bike nowadays. A hundred years ago you had to spend basically your entire day providing value to other people just to earn enough tokens to maintain your bike. Now, it’s a lot easier. You can work a lot less and have a much better bike than most people did a century ago. We’re actually to the point where most riders earn enough golden tokens to upgrade their bikes on a regular basis.
Me: That’s incredible. Sounds like Bicycle World has come a long way over the years. People must be pretty happy here, right?
Owen: Well…not as happy as you might think. You see, most riders earn their golden tokens by working for a shop. Shops are all over the place and they provide all types of services. Some of them make decorations for bikes, some give lessons on how to ride better, and others make new parts. Most riders report to these shops five days a week to earn their golden tokens. Unfortunately, most riders don’t love earning their tokens this way. They can’t set their own hours and the work can become boring after a while.
Me: But I thought you said it’s easy to earn enough tokens to have a comfortable bike?
Owen: That’s the thing. Most people don’t want just a comfortable bike anymore. They want bikes that look good. The only way to make them look good is to buy new decorations and accessories for the bike. The only way to have enough golden tokens to buy these things is through reporting to the shops every week. So you see the problem.
Me: But why do people care so much about how their bike looks? Bicycle World seems like an incredible planet. There’s so many paths to explore, so many things to see, so many other riders to interact with. Why are people so obsessed with the appearance of their bike?
Owen: Okay, I should back up a bit. On each bike there are two gauges. One is the Internal Happiness Gauge. This measures how happy the rider is with the current state of his or her bike. The other is the External Happiness Gauge. This measures how happy the rider thinks other riders are with his or her bike.
Most riders are in a constant struggle to increase the level of their External Happiness Gauge. The problem is, the only way to increase it is through upgrading their bike to look better. The only way to upgrade it is through spending golden tokens…you see the problem.
Me: Isn’t their a maximum level you can reach on that gauge, though? At some point, isn’t the bike upgraded so much that you max out the external happiness metric?
Owen: Unfortunately, no. Although most riders are under the impression that there is a maximum, there actually is not. You see, when a rider upgrades his bike, the external happiness metric does increase initially. But it doesn’t take long for it to fall back to it’s normal level. The upgrade only provides a short-term increase. In order to increase it again, the rider must upgrade again. It’s a never-ending cycle.
Me: That sounds awful. Who invented that gauge in the first place?
Owen: A man by the name of Jone Jones. He comes from a family who has been notoriously good at owning shops and producing golden tokens. He is the one who had the External Happiness Gauge added to all the bikes. He also happens to have one of the most impressive bikes on the planet and upgrades it frequently. Riders are in a constant race to keep up with his upgrades.
Me: Couldn’t people just use the Internal Happiness Gauge instead? Surely that one is easier to increase without upgrading the bike?
Owen: Well yeah, but that one is a bit harder to understand. I’m not entirely sure how it works myself. I’ve heard you have to somehow increase it without upgrading your bike, through helping other riders, and by finding happiness through just riding. Keep this between me and you, but the riders who do use that gauge seem a bit weird. It just doesn’t make sense. How could they possibly find happiness without upgrading their bike? I don’t get it.
Me: There must be at least a few riders who don’t spend all their golden tokens on upgrades. What do they do with their leftover tokens?
Owen: There are a few people who actually save their tokens. They use the bare minimum amount of tokens to keep their bike maintained and comfortable, without spending excess on accessories or upgrades they don’t really need. Then they put the rest in their token generating machine.
Me: Token generating machine?
Owen: Yeah, on the back of each bike is a machine that looks like a box. When you put golden tokens in the machine, it actually generates new tokens over time. I have actually heard stories about riders who put so many of their golden tokens in this machine that eventually they’re able to generate enough new tokens to cover all the basic maintenance expenses of their bike. Some of them reach a point where they don’t even need to go to the shops anymore to earn golden tokens because they generate their own.
Me: Wait, why don’t more riders do that?! Why would a rider keep going to a shop he hates just to earn golden tokens to upgrade his bike to increase the External Happiness Gauge to keep up with people like Jone Jones?!
Owen: It’s just what people do, man. It’s normal. Wisdom of the crowd or something, right? If everyone is doing it, it can’t be wrong. Besides, the Internal Happiness Gauge is just too difficult to understand. Also, I’ve heard it takes a long time to accumulate enough golden tokens to generate enough new tokens to maintain your bike. Besides, if people didn’t need to report to the shops to earn tokens, how would they spend all their free time?
Me: But it seems that if you can find a way to be content without upgrading your bike, it would be easy to save up enough golden tokens to quit going to a shop you hate. Then with your free time you could spend it actually riding on different paths, seeing what else Bicycle World has to offer, and even helping less fortunate riders.
Owen: You might be right…but I personally don’t want to go against the grain. It’s just easier to keep going to the shops along with everyone else and upgrading my bike every time I have enough tokens.
Anyway, I gotta head back to my own shop. It was great talking with you, Zach, hopefully you learned a bit about how Bicycle World works!
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