Thursday, July 16, 2015

Quickies: Are You Invisible? Have You Ever Been Invisible?

     The esteemed Dr. Helen Smith has written a brief piece on “invisibility:” that condition of being that seems not to register on others’ senses, despite one’s demonstrable, tangible reality. Dr. Helen, ever willing to look on the bright side, provides a penetrating suggestion:

     It’s funny but in Obama’s America, most of us are invisible it seems to me. You can blame it on discrimination, sexism, ageism or whatever but I think a good part of it is just plain old incompetence. No one feels like working anymore or feels entitled to be working somewhere better, so they no longer see it necessary to try their best or give good service. Hence they overlook people in stores, restaurants, and in general. Or you have the opposite problem. Doctors and staff are so overworked with paperwork and have so many patients that everyone has become a number and a chart, making it easy to shrug off any real human connection. People complain about feeling invisible and the lack of human compassion but why not embrace being invisible instead?

     What do I mean by this? Well, given how little people pay attention to others, a whole new world is open to you if you are willing to engage in a bit of passive-aggressive behavior or even act a bit on the sociopathic side. Is this good for society? No, but it might be a decent way for individuals to behave in order to keep their sanity in a society that devalues individualism.

     She follows with several intriguing suggestions for exploiting one’s invisibility. Not all of them are actionable violations of statute law.

     This form of invisibility – perhaps we should call it social invisibility – has both advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, he who can’t be seen can’t be compelled, prohibited, expropriated, pushed, jostled, punched, folded, stapled, mutilated, briefed, debriefed or numbered...at least not deliberately, and if it happens as a side effect of someone else’s oppression, his invisibility might help him to avert or evade it. On the minus side, he who actively needs or would benefit from the attention of others will need to act to disrupt their activities, such that they can infer his existence and track his position by the wreckage and the blood droplets. (Note that the possibility of adverse effects upon Mr. Socially Invisible from such disruption should not be discounted.)

     Much will depend on the temperament of the invisible person. He who prefers peace and quiet will be fairly happy being socially invisible. As such persons tend to do their shopping over the Net, the subvariety of social invisibility called commercial invisibility hardly bothers them...though supermarket deli counters constitute an important exception. However, he who enjoys interacting with others – let’s not omit love and sex – will chafe at being socially invisible, which will impel him to “act out,” sometimes with automatic weapons and high explosives.

     The ideal to be striven for is user-selectable invisibility: the ability to turn oneself socially invisible upon command. The advantages of that option are easy to see, especially if it could be refined to the point where one could choose to be invisible to selected persons while simultaneously remaining visible to selected others. No doubt Bell Labs is working on it as we speak. However, should such a system prove “hackable,” the possibilities for mischief would be considerable...especially if the invisibility field could be remotely widened, or shifted to envelop one’s toddler, one’s car, or one’s spouse.

1 comment:

  1. "especially if the invisibility field could be remotely widened, or shifted to envelop one’s toddler, one’s car, or one’s spouse."

    Or one's wallet.

    Dr. Helen's suggestion re: doctor's appointments are spot on. Year's ago, I had problems with my orthopedic surgeon's office over-booking appointments. After the first visit had included an hour's wait past my appointment time, on the second visit I informed the receptionist I would re-schedule. When I returned for the third visit, I was immediately placed in an exam room. I still had a twenty-minute wait there, but the doctor apologized for the wait and promised to be more prompt in the future.

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