Saturday, July 6, 2013

This Post Has Nothing To Do With Disney Films

This photo has absolutely nothing to do with the following article. 

We're taking a small break from our movie-related posts to remind everyone that this blog can actually be about anything, not just about how much The Little Mermaid sucks. Today we're exploring an intriguing idea expressed earlier in the week by the diverse and often wildly creative AskReddit subculture. This idea has sparked almost 11,000 comments to date, and inspired our writers to explore various angles of thought traditionally reserved for science-fiction authors and people who play the SIMS computer games. The idea in question was simply this:

"Number of duckface pictures on Facebook profile" would be a rather telling stat.

On Reddit, the comments ranged anywhere from inventive to sinister to fifty different versions of "How likely it is the person in question will sleep with me". We decided to post the best answers we could come up with here, though we must note that since we don't have the patience to skim all 11,000 responses, some of these may have been suggested already in the Reddit comment section. We'll do our best to acknowledge this throughout the article.

Also for the sake of this article, we're assuming two things- the statistic you choose would also appear above your own head, and everyone's would be visible to everyone, no loopholes and no way of hiding it in any way. With that as our framework, let's brainstorm...

#7. Practical Information

Excuse us, but we couldn't help noticing that you are a terrible human being.

We'll start simple- what if people's names were just up there for all to see? Even more exciting, what if someone's profession or age or weight was up there? Well that's boring. We can tell many of those things without any sort of glowing indicator. There's so many more creative statistics to be thought through, like if someones annual net income was public knowledge. Could you imagine? Okay sure, only negative things could come from this; jealousy from most, false superiority for the rest. Crime would go way up, kidnapping and such would be perhaps more of a hazard for the wealthy. College grads would see bums doing way better than they are and become bums themselves. All in all just unhappiness would come from knowing precisely how much more broke we are than our neighbors.

Personal info is just a plain, boring way to explore this possibility.

#6. Mind-Reading Options

"If only an amateur freelance internet writer would ask me to out, we could grab some pizza"
- Gal Gadot, probably.

The first thing most of you thought of probably had something to do with exposing truths people want to keep hidden. How would the world be changed if above everyone's head was the steadily increasing number of an individual's total lies told, perhaps broken down in a week/month/all-time format? Politicians would be in the middle of a campaign speech and "ding" their number would all of a sudden jump up. Legal proceedings would definitely be less of a nightmare. You wouldn't have to worry about carrying ID or anything, since you could prove your identity with your word and nothing else. Unfortunately, we'd likely become a society of half-truths and extremely creative questions. We'd all get really good at masking the intentions of our questions and the full truthfulness of our answers; in other words, all of mankind would become politicians. So in the end, this is a crappy option.

Also, dates would pretty much be like the only good scene from "The Invention of Lying".

Also, if everyone's actual thoughts appeared above their head in a little thought bubble for everyone to read, scrolling constantly like a teleprompter, we could safely assume that everyone would just stay away from each other. The privacy of the mind is one of the most under-appreciated gifts we have, and we need it to function as a people.

If one day evolution suddenly spazzed out and a little glowing statistic appeared above each of us, we're hoping it's not purely exposing our innermost thoughts, or else the world will suddenly look like the post-apocalyptic wasteland Hollywood's been selling us on for the past decade.

#5. Mortality Type Things

Your love will never last.

A ticking clock with someone's remaining time on the planet would be interesting, but in the end just a disaster for everyone. Remember the movie "In Time"? Yeah mostly it was a metaphor for the 1% of ultra rich people in the world, but there's still some elements of what the future would be like if everyone knew how much time they had left, and that is a future of crazy people and a lot of really bad "time" puns. Even without the element of time being used as a currency, knowing how much time you've got would basically make anyone without much time left a possible terrorist looking to go out with a literal bang because they're unable to handle their pending expiration.

The 'Les Misérables' sequel is going to be awesome.

It would also create new classes of people, since people with a long time left would likely make friends and eventually form a subculture with those others who also have blessed longevity. This makes the class of people with a short time left essentially the "poor", and there's nothing they can do to get out of their situation except take their frustration out on the rich people with lots of time left, which will be impossible because by definition those people with lots of time won't reach their end for a while yet.

This would also call into question lots of religious stuff about fate and destiny, but since this is the internet we are literally not allowed to discuss religious topics.

#4. Personality Details

Imagine if the word "Overrated" hung over Dwight's head all the time. It's not hard.

This one could be fun. There are several details a person would rather keep hidden that still wouldn't totally wreck our society. Imagine people walking around with a one-word descriptor above their head articulating their personality type? Granted, that'd kind of be a waste since we humans are pretty good at judging that without needing any sort of sign. So what about someone's favorite song or movie? Well that wouldn't work for the major portion of the world's population who don't spend their lives wasting away indulging in constant entertainment. 

An idea proposed on Reddit suggested that someone's "experience points" should flash when they discuss a certain topic. We like that idea, maybe if on a scale from 1-100 someone's real world knowledge of a topic was there for all to see. Basically, the more you actually do something and learn from it, the higher your number will climb. Does that make sense? No....? Okay how about this; it's like if life were "Skyrim".

"Ooooh"- Everyone

It would largely eliminated those tools who talk about subjects they have no clue about, and would give added importance to seeking out knowledge on an individual basis. It would make everybody regain the passion for learning we all lose at age 11. It would be a better system to discern the good, honest politicians from the ones we have now. It may also give people who are extremely intelligent in their respective fields more license to be a complete jerk about it, but that's pretty much the world we live in already. 

"Yeah, a Harvard education is available online now for free, but I actually went there"

It wouldn't be all bad though. You'd know who you could take advice from and who was just trying to sound smart. And there's a bonus for the dating world; if a girl starts talking about "Pretty Little Liars" and her XP meter jumps to 98, you know you've gotta get out of there. Guy starts talking about Kardashians and his number reads 84? Ditch him. 

Girl nails the lyrics to Barenaked Ladies' "One Week" with 100 above her head? She's a keeper.

#3. Outside-The-Box Thinking

One of the more creative posts on Reddit suggested that hanging above everyone's noggin should be the exact GPS coordinates of whatever it is they are looking for at that moment. To us that can mean anything from lost keys to the best pizza in town to a soul mate, who hopefully has GPS numbers that match your location, because that might suck otherwise. An extremely dark but admittedly telling number suggested by a different Reddit user is the percentage of people worldwide that would be wiped out if the individual in question had the power to destroy anyone who didn't live up to their standards. Interesting how a few religious and political leaders would fare in such a world.  

Another interesting detail would be if someone's total lifetime distance travelled was shown, you could learn a lot about a person that way. Of course, airline pilots and astronauts would take up all the cool points and leave none for the rest of us. 

Like that's not already happening anyway.

Tagging along with this traveling idea, maybe the most interesting thing to see a total stranger sporting is the number of degrees that separate them from you. Imagine being in an airport and seeing lots of fives and sixes and sevens and then someone totally random with a two or a three. Because this number would obviously change according to perspective, you may be four degrees away from Bruce Willis while your girlfriend is only two. Because you have no way of knowing others' connections, this could obviously be lied about, but it would still make TV shows a little more fun to watch.

"You guys! Olivia Wilde is a two! WHO DO WE KNOW THAT KNOWS OLIVIA WILDE?!

#2. The Universe's Big Joke

One of the first suggestions mentioned in the original thread this question appeared in was the idea of a completely arbitrary number, random in every way, just as a way of completely messing with the world. Scientists and psychologists would work to figure out what the numbers represent, while our culture attempted to segregate itself over which numbers illicit an aura of superiority. Odds and evens would be common, like right-handed and left-handed people. But prime numbers, oddly repeating sequences like 121212 and the unfortunate soul who gets 666 will all be investigated by a host of mathematicians, criminal psychologists, and a few religious heretics.

 "I, the universe, shall give Steve the number 0, because I seriously don't like Steve."

#1. The Best One

As far as we can tell, there is one stat that would be both informative, slightly secretive, and wouldn't completely rip our planet apart. On a scale of 1-100, a person's happiness level, updated each moment. This would have elements of mind-reading, since you couldn't lie about how you're feeling and maybe that wouldn't be a good thing. But you'd know who to avoid on a certain day, and which waiters and waitresses really aren't in need of your whining (hint: it's all of them). Maybe the most important aspect of this is you could tell how much of an effect you can have on people, for good or for ill. You could watch your significant other's number go up a little when they walk in the door, and you could tell what makes people truly happy. You could ask the people consistently hovering in the 90s what their secret is. You could help out your friend who sank into the teens for an unknown reason.

You could watch tens of thousands of people's happy meters zip to 100 at the same time.

There's still some degree of privacy involved, but it would make the world even more of an interesting place.

There's endless possibilities to consider; more statistics that we haven't discussed, more consequences of the ones we have, and lots of good reasons why it's for the best this isn't a reality. Still, the idea of knowing things we usually don't get to see is an intriguing one, and makes you wonder how much about yourself you normally keep hidden from the world. 

Alright enough of that, we'll be back to movies and other hilarity in no time, check back here soon.


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