Rites of Passage

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright February 2016


Rites of passage aspirations are rooted in instinctive thinking. Success at them signals two things:

o The person has worked hard and well, and achieved a significant goal in their life.

o They are likely to become a pillar of the community, not some kind of trouble-maker.

So... what activities in 2050 are going to indicate these two traits? What is the community going to want to encourage?

These are the topics for this essay.

Rites of Passage

Rites of passage date back to Neolithic Village times. But they are heavily influenced by current local circumstances in which the community lives, so they change from place to place and time to time.

Communities of the 2010's have them, but they are quite different from those of the Stone Age, and even those of America in the 1950's. For this reason the rites of the 2050's are going to be different than those of the 2010's.

Something related to property is a perennial favorite, but I don't see how that will apply in the TES Necessity Environment -- the one where everyone is living in a basement. Can acquiring an expensive cyber muse of some sort replace property and still stroke the instinct? This aspiration will be hard for much of the human community to recognize because of the fear of cyber taking over. Status wearables of some sorts? Acquiring some hot genetic engineering of some sort?

"Everyone should [ ]. It's the American Way."

Here are some rites of passage from US history:

1850's "Everyone should own a farm."
1950's "Everyone should own a house."
2010's "Everyone should get a college degree."

These dreams are important because they influence instinctive thinking, which influences government policy in expensive ways.

The farm instinct lead to the Homesteading Act. And, surprise, a lot of horse owning.
The house instinct lead to FHA, Freddie and Fannie. And, surprise, a lot of car driving.
The college degree instinct has lead to expensive education. And, surprise... I'm not sure what.

What these have in common is that once an objective has become agreed upon, the community will further agree to spend a lot of resource to make it happen. And, quite often, they will have the community government control the resources spent. This starts out well, but because this is backed by instinctive thinking the feedback mechanisms that measure effectiveness are usually weak. The result of that weakness is that with time pursuing the good intention gets more expensive, less effective, and subject to regulatory capture, corruption and other system gaming abuses. After a few decades the organizations set up to promote this good intention have twisted the market for it, and the waste will steadily increase until finally a big crash comes when the dream changes and a new rite becomes more important.

Rites of passage change with a community's style of prosperity and available technologies. What "You should work hard to..." will be referring to in the 2050's is going to be quite different from what it is in the 2010's.

Wearables and relations

"Should I fall for him?" -- wearables and romance

Wearables will be able to influence instinctive thinking by adjusting body chemistry -- they can adjust gut feelings. This means they should be able to influence friendships and romance. In Child Champs I wrote about "Forget Him" pills. I'm updating that: Now wearables instead of pills, and both "Fall For" and "Forget Him" will be available.

This ability to influence instinctive thinking can sustain an aging marriage. One of the questions of 2050 will become, "How much of this is true love, and how much is wearables?" This question will become especially acute among middle-age people when "Seven Year Itch" is prevalent. And, as with philandering today, some will be intensely curious, and some won't want to know.

Given the competition for affection with cyber muses... this whole human-human relation thing gets even messier than it is now. Whew! And mix in social prescription about what are OK and Not OK relations. Double Whew!

The net result of all this importance is that learning how to use wearables will become an important skill in the 2050's, and mastering it will become an important rite of passage.

Given the ubiquitousness of wearables and the powerful versatility in their abilities to tweak emotions. This learning to use them properly and well could become the 2050's equivalent of learning to drive in the 2010's.

In the TES World

What will be rites of passage in the TES world? What are going to be hot items to accomplish/acquire?

Here are some ideas. These ideas come with a lot of questions. This is a hard core science fiction speculating arena:

o Hot item cyber muses, as in, Arm Candy muses

This will replace buying a car as a rite of passage. Expect to see car sales tactics and techniques migrate here. "Low down and easy monthly payments"-type advertising for buying low-end muses.

How will this purchase interact with Necessity and Luxury money buying? What will be different in the selling environment between using one or the other as payment? Will lots of hoop-jumping and shady tactics be more common in the Necessity Environment?

What will the used cyber muse market be like? The muse can be reprogrammed for the new owner, and some appearance elements can be changed. What will be the physical differences between hot item new muses and older used muses? What will be the perceived social differences?

Will there be rent-a-cyber markets? Most likely. For special occasions. When traveling? Pick up one at the airport? Part of a luxurious vacation. A LoL! thought: A muse shop just off the hotel lobby.

o Education accomplishments -- What doors will education open up?

With cyber doing most of the heavy lifting in core industries, what doors are left for education to open? Will education disconnect from money-making? The most obvious door to open is dilettante accomplishments. What else?

o Dilettante accomplishments -- What doors will being an accomplished dilettante open up? Entertainment and sports are likely to remain the highest profile dilettante activities. Beyond those come the Top 40 jobs.

o Access to wearables... which kind? Health improving? Mind altering? Performance enhancing? Performance to do what? Just sports related, or something else? Dilettante things such as music performance?

How will the aspiration for universal health care interact with health wearables? Will some be hideously expensive? Besides health and mind altering, what other kinds of wearables will be high-profile and highly desirable? Will there be black markets? How so with pervasive surveillance?

o Access to VR situations of special sorts? Porn and...? Morality and Political Correctness of 2050 sort will have a lot of sway in this. And with them will come the shaming tactics. These are going to be exciting, but how will they fit into rites of passage?

Real and Sham rites

There are going to be everyone-gets-a-prize activities. These are going to be all over and won't mean much. These will just be part of the background. But there will be groups that promote them as rites of passage, and these groups will be laughed at behind their backs.

This leads to the question: What will be meaningful rites? What are going to be rites that aspire admiration and envy? Inspire people to take the effort to achieve?

There will be formal versus informal rites of passage. The difference between a frat initiation and a gang initiation. An example of informal-but-brutal in the 2010's being college marching band initiations that have become high-profile.


Rites of passage are important for every community and every generation. But they are strongly influenced by local conditions so they vary from community to community and generation to generation.

What they have in common are taking a lot of effort to achieve and signaling to the community that the achiever has both made the accomplishment and will likely become a pillar of the community in the near future.

What makes this an interesting topic for the 2050's is the surprising changes that the rites have transformed into by then.



--The End--