Self-abuse in the 2050's

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright August 2017


How will self abuse show up in an era with pervasive surveillance and with wearables monitoring health in real-time? In the necessity class world, where people are dealing less and less with hazardous equipment (driving cars) and hazardous jobs (construction), the compelling reasons not to self-abuse become weaker. "Why not? Who is it going to hurt? And I'm certainly enjoying it!" Conversely, these same trends are going to allow prescriptiveness and social shaming to grow in importance. They will grow for the same reason. The prescribers and shamers will be feeling in their hearts, "Why not? Who is it going to hurt? And I'm certainly enjoying it!"

How these two conflicting trends are going to work out is hard to predict. The conflict is likely to mimic The War on Drugs in many ways.

What can be seen?

With pervasive surveillance drinking and drug use to abuse will be harder to do in discrete ways -- cyber is watching your health real time, and all the rooms you are moving around in. Will cyber permit this? If not, what will replace drinking and drug abuse as common ways for someone to abuse themselves, just because they want to abuse themselves? For instance, what will wearable abuse be like? Will dialing up too much of a wearable's influence be a replacement?

And then comes the question of how much of what cyber sees and knows will be passed on to other humans?

What can be shamed?

How will all this new data relate to social shaming? As stated above this will be complicated, for sure!

What adds to this problem is that social shaming can induce a person to want to self abuse. And a person can get social shamed for self abusing. How to avoid a vicious circle? And keep in mind that the effect on prosperity of avoiding this vicious circle will be minimal -- what costs there are will be purely social and personal.

Enfranchisement fits in

What is likely to make the most difference in the magnitude of self-abuse is how much a community has embraced enfranchisement and a Big Vision -- these are unifying feelings and feelings that promote tolerance. "We've got a big job to finish. We all need to roll up our sleeves and be working with each other to get it accomplished." The converse, complacency, promotes prescriptiveness and shaming for the "why not?" reasons given above.

If this is so, then the level of self-abuse in a community can be an inverse indicator of the level of enfranchisement and vision the community is feeling.


How people will abuse themselves and how the community will deal with it are both hard to predict. Humans like to self abuse, so this is an activity that won't go away. But how they abuse depends on the technologies available -- think of the difference between getting drunk on cheap beer and cheap gin. (and keep in mind that cheap gin drinking powered up the various Prohibition movements)

Likewise, how the community shames a person that self abuses depends on many factors -- two that are important are technology and level of enfranchisement. Technology determines how the shaming is done and enfranchisement determines how much is done.



--The End--