Hyperpat\’s HyperDay

SF, science, and daily living

Rats and People

Posted by hyperpat on July 26, 2006

There are times when you need to have a little space. Just a little time away from everything that’s happening, and all the people around you. When you need it and don’t get it, the typical result is anger, frustration, and that feeling that the world is ‘closing in’ around you. At its extreme, the net result is ‘going postal’.

But the modern world we live in seems to keep getting busier and busier, with more things to worry about, more items that just must get done now, more things you must learn, and less and less time to just relax and go do what you want to do. This is partly the result of the pace of technological innovation, where new things keep appearing. Remember when there were no such things as cell phones? When you could go off in the woods, and absolutely know that no one would be able to bother you? Not now – you’ve still got that phone in your pocket.

With computers we are constantly hooked into the vast stream of data about what’s happening everywhere, while your TV does its best to make sure that you don’t feel great unless you purchase the latest hot item presented in all those invasive commercials. Out on the road, more and more cars crowd all around you, most of them driven by idiots (or at least it seems that way). The shopping mall seems to be absolutely packed with people, and lines, lines, everywhere.

There was an experiment done sometime back that looked at what rats did when they were given plenty of food and water, but had too many of them in a small space. Very quickly these rats ended up constantly fighting amongst themselves. I don’t think people are any different. More and more people on this planet means less and less space per person, and places people can go to relax and get away from it all fewer and fewer. John Brunner, in his ground-breaking book Stand on Zanzibar (written in 1967), envisioned a future that looks all too close to today’s world. One of the prominent features of that book was his description of ‘muckers’, people who have been pushed over the edge by the crowding and pace of their world, and who take out their frustrations by shooting, stabbing, or otherwise inflicting damage on all around them.

So sit back and relax while you still can. But add another worry about how we can solve this problem.

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