Happy, Strong, Tough.

Sipping my coffee this morning I began thinking about how we start happy and we become strong and tough because the world demands it of us.

It happens faster for some of us than others. Some it seems don’t manage to become strong or tough. During all of this, we aspire for various reasons to be happy, some sort of Holy Grail that everyone seeks, charlatans claim to find, and maybe some of us enjoy for periods.

We have tools now that generate images, even videos, and I wondered what the difference would be between a happy boy, a strong boy, and a tough boy. I used DeepAI to generate the images, since I use DeepAI to generate most images these days.

The idea is that given all the images that are used for training these ‘artificial intelligences’ uses our own biases to show us what whatever we wish would look like – implicitly trying to create something we would like based on what that training data.

The first image is the happy boy. DeepAI conjured up a boy with a mild smile, not terminally ecstatic, with a dirty t-shirt and messed up hair. I think that’s relatable.

The strong boy, the next image, seems less happy. Determined, maybe, with musculature that some body builders are training for right now. The brow is slightly furrowed, it seems, and the eyes seem determined.

I remember in my youth always wanting to be stronger. Being stronger meant being more helpful with carrying things, moving things around, and the competition between boys as to who was stronger was a part of my own youth.

Society values the load we can carry, I suppose. I’m certain that there are happy and strong boys out there. I think I was. There is a certain accomplishment to being increasingly strong. Being smart wasn’t something I did here, but it was much the same thing.

Yet the images that DeepAI generated about strong boys did not seem to be happy. I could have cheated and asked for both, but I wanted to see what the large language model and image training would come up with.

This was one of the better images.

Being tough, though, comes from adversity. To an extent, so does strength, but being tough requires more. Grit, as it is, is being able to push past obstacles physically, emotionally and mentally.

This last image in the post is of a tough boy.

Being tough means going through periods where there is no happiness. Being tough requires strength, be it of body, mind and emotion.

‘Tough’ means pushing forward, maybe because of hope, or maybe because there is no other way. When things seem to be without hope, one has to be the toughest, pushing forward in the hope that one day it won’t be so tough.

Some people become tougher than others. Adversity creates ‘tough’, and maybe because of that we don’t see ‘tough’ as frequently in children in the developed world as we do the developing.

Yet when we think of a child – any child – we adults like to think of them as happy. Not strong. Not tough. We are stronger, we are tougher, and I think while it’s necessary for children to become these things we also miss our own childhood happiness and do not wish to see it leave the faces of children.

And what do adults want? “To be happy”, we hear all too often.

It might be interesting to see what these might look like with girls. Since I’m not a girl I chose not to do those because I wouldn’t relate. It might be interesting to see those results in a post by a woman.

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