I posed a question on my facebook wall, that I have now put thought into myself. I asked a novel, and hypothetical question: If there was a restaurant that charged a flat fee that was based on the average value of the same menu the last night, would diners indulge? Would they dine as if they were to pay for their equal share? Or would they eat as hedonists of antiquity and divulge, knowing fully that the diners who follow them will have to bear the burden of their lavishness?
In discussion it was wondered: Would the temporal distance between diners be enough separation to impersonalize the diners the following night? Probably. If you do not see the immediate effects of your actions, you are not likely to change your behavior to benefit another party. It is the same reason and problem that environmentalists face when they attempt to convince the world of the incoming effects of global warming, overfishing, pollution, or any number of issues that takes longer than a blink of an eye to notice. We societal humans demand to see immediate effects of our actions. In the computing world, if you have a process that takes longer than a tenth of a second, you lose the participators focus- that’s why you see AJAX spinners and animated loading bars.
Now, back to this hypothetical situation. Believing that the diners will be insensitive, and living in an immodest society, I can say with a small amount of assurance that there would be a fair share of gluttons. The fixed price of a dining experience will rise nightly. This constant escalation will alienate the impoverished, and the restaurants clientele will dwindle until there isn’t a large enough constituency to support the restaurant. Alternatively, the prices will rise but there could be a large enough group of ultra rich that the establishment can survive, turning a curious social meal experiment into a Veblen good.
To escape this outcome, I modified the experiment. The price you now pay is an average of the previous hour. When you are seated at your table you see the group that sat there previously, and you have the briefest moment of contact. Perhaps the server personalizes it further and mentions the names of the diners that sat in those very chairs but five minutes before your arrival.
Now the price is very human, and there is a personal consequence to indulgence. Your actions directly effect someone you know to be alive, and in your society. Some may draw on their limited knowledge of the concept of Socialism, and call this idea as such.
There are only two options I can think of. That is why I titled this post “Condensation”. Out of the vapors that exist in the entire galaxy of possibilities I have sucked them down and compressed them into two very polarized possibilities. It is how I continually operate. I see a situation, or dream of an idea and suitcase my thoughts into the few possibilities I can think of. Here I have taken a complex set of creatures (humans, and the society they live in) and can only offer two possible choices.
Shouldn’t there be a much more infinite array of choices? My thoughts become binary, where there is an on and off. They are the absolutes, and there is no splintering into the possible, but improbable. Pity, I would guess there is much else out there to be thought of that this grey mass of goo that often are dismissed immediately.