[extropy-chat] When Did (or Do) People Start Locking Doors?

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Fri Dec 15 21:56:36 UTC 2006

At 10:00 PM 12/15/2006 +0100, Anders wrote:

>My guess is that the valuable thing you are longing for is a friendly
>neighbourhood social network, where people know each other well enough to
>act as a robust protective system.... diffusion of responsibility effects
>make nice people less efficiently nice in a large setting. Maybe we should
>all move into small and cozy metavillages and exurbs, telepresencing to

Well, yeah, but...

I live these days in downtown San Antonio, a pretty poor neighborhood 
mixing Mexicans and fewer whites in house that are often unpainted or 
leaning like drunks, with blacks mostly somewhere over to the west. 
Walking home in the hot winter sun today, I was aghast (as usual) by 
the crap and detritus scattered along the street: piled up cartons, 
cigarette packets and plastic or glass bottles in scrubby weeds, 
pizza containers, all that careless fuck-you urban shit. Some of this 
is due to sloppy emptying of bins by garbage  collectors, but most is 
chucked out car windows or dropped by ambling idle oafs. A mile or so 
to the north, where real estate prices are closer to a million bucks, 
everything is serene, snipped, with handsome roads and uncracked, 
unsmashed sidewalks, and even a few working drains in the gutters. 
Hardly any distributed crap to be found. I don't think it because the 
city pays for extra street cleaning there, although that's possible. 
Probably people *just behave in a more civilized manner*--because 
that's how they were trained, that's what they (we) interiorized as 
agreeable, mutually beneficial mores. To throw packaging into the 
street or leave it on the front lawn would make these wealthier 
people cringe with aesthetic revulsion and shame. (And of course such 
internal discipline is *why* many of them are wealthier to start 
with.) But you can see why the poor and the shiftless and the 
overwhelmed-by-kids slump into a different ethos, or piss on everyone 
else in their anger or, worse, their inner obliteration. Will nano 
abundance modify this socialization gap? I fear it won't, although 
the detritus problem can be engineered away.

Damien Broderick 

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