What would an "demographic-free" society be like?

It's a thought that has floated around my head for a while. Admittedly it's probably not a benign idea...

You know how we, as human beings, tend to categorize ourselves, how use things like our ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender identity, and so on, as labels for ourselves to help define who we are and where fit (or in some cases don fit) within groups of people with similar or different categories?

What if there was a society of human beings that don't label themselves in such ways at all, period?

What if you were in a society where you only identify yourself by name, your personality, your personal likes and dislikes, and literally nothing else?

What would such a society be like where you're conditioned not to identify yourself as part of any group or demographic that would make you separate from other human beings?

My best guess is that on one hand, while such an 'anti-category' society would make it difficult to practice acts of discrimination or marginalization since, as far as the collective public is concerned, there is nothing about human beings to be prejudiced about.

On the other hand, I once read in a psychology article that people use demographics an easy means of self-identity since it helps you feel part of something by being part of a certain group, and taking away such things could make you feel irrelevant or insignificant to the world which could hurt you psychologically over time.

But I'm no expert on this sort of thing, what do you think it would be like to be part of a society where you're conditioned to not to label yourself in any category?

Then we would have demographics based on name and personality along with personal likes and dislikes that already exist.

Misterian:
What if there was a society of human beings that don't label themselves in such ways at all, period?

Wait, are you talking about a society where the differences between people are considered trivial before their overwhelming human commonality and mutually dependent interest as members of the same united species?..

image

Seriously though. Your argument for me swings a little close to "racism wouldn't exist if we just stopped talking about race", which in a sense is probably true but is actively politically unhelpful for us right now on the ground. People don't identify with these categories entirely voluntarily as some kind of perfect free choice, often they feel pushed or forced into identifying with these categories as a way of understanding what is going on. A white kid goes up to a black kid at a nursery and tells them their skin looks dirty. The black kid is suddenly and painfully aware that they are different, and that this difference isn't politically neutral or irrelevant. It matters, people see it. The black kid didn't wake up one day and go "oh shit, I'm not interesting enough, better start calling myself black", it's imposed, it's forced on them.

Heck, the white kid in that scenario didn't choose to identify with whiteness. They "chose" (in the sense we all do, every day, in countless ways) to identify with normalcy. You could potentially argue that children are capable of perceiving skin shades as significant without being prompted (although there's little to no evidence of it) but that's not what this kid was reacting to. They've already absorbed that it isn't them who is different, but this other child who was the one who didn't fit in. "Whiteness" or any kind of identification with it has not entered their mind yet, neither has the concept of ethnicity or race. For now, there is only normal and abnormal, and yet this is enough to motivate racism and to force that black child into the position of having to make sense of why they are different.

Then there's the question of what happens when the differences between people aren't completely arbitrary. If we don't categorise people as able bodied and disabled, for example, then what happens when we go to design a building? Do we assume everyone is able bodied and just put stairs everywhere? How do we recognize that a disabled person might have different needs from our building if we can't acknowledge the existence of differences between people? Does that result in a world that is genuinely free of discrimination and prejudice, or does it result in a world where discrimination and prejudice is simply boiled down to that basic, childlike distinction between "normal" and "abnormal". Does it result in a world which celebrates the full diversity of humanity, or a world which crushes and strangles anyone who, for whatever reason, cannot adopt this performance of being perfectly the same as everyone else.

So yeah, wouldn't it be a better idea to approach this whole thing the other way around. Instead of trying to remove the concept of difference, maybe we can work to remove the concept that difference is intrinsically a bad thing.

Saelune:
Then we would have demographics based on name and personality along with personal likes and dislikes that already exist.

I don't often agree with Saelune, but yeah. We'd start judging people based on them being cheese-eating surrender monkeys, for instance...

Next question?

Also, it would make the polices work a nightmare. "What did he look like?" "Well, he looked a bit like a Dave, but an angry Dave, who probably likes quinoa".

EDIT: And if we are going to have a serious note on this, it would be a nightmare from a medical point of view, where there are certain issues which are race specific / occur with greater frequencies in certain races / cultures.

Studying demography is vital for a number of reasons-- it's vital for scientific research, sociology, and police-work (as Catnip mentioned). It greatly assists in policy, and if we were to ignore it, policy would become far more ineffective (and expensive).

Also, some demographics are rather unavoidable. If somebody cannot refer to himself as "gay", then must he just turn the girl down without giving any reason? Must he have Tinder showing him men and women, even though he could only be interested in men, just because setting it to "only show men" would be joining a demographic?

Ok, so we've got a bunch of clones and done away with money and sexuality and eliminated the disabled...if not all the clones are the same age, we've got a demographic based on age. No escaping it.

Thaluikhain:
Ok, so we've got a bunch of clones and done away with money and sexuality and eliminated the disabled...if not all the clones are the same age, we've got a demographic based on age. No escaping it.

Better switch to robots, then.

Marketers, insurance profilers and advertising psychologists or whatever the fuck those people who prey on populations based on such information are called would go insane.
But then our browser cookies and phone history will simply become our default demographic (if they aren't already), and we'll continue to be seen as dehumanised units of consumption to be shaped and guided into profitable market trends.

McMarbles:

Thaluikhain:
Ok, so we've got a bunch of clones and done away with money and sexuality and eliminated the disabled...if not all the clones are the same age, we've got a demographic based on age. No escaping it.

Better switch to robots, then.

new v old models

Misterian:
What would such a society be like where you're conditioned not to identify yourself as part of any group or demographic that would make you separate from other human beings?

Conditioned or not, people have eyes and would recognize the differences between them.
Nobody needed to teach me that women look different than men, that blacks look different than whites, that tall people look different than short people etc, I just looked at them and figured it out.
Children bully each other based on their differences all the time, whether they're differences in looks or behavior even though they're conditioned not to do that for the most part.

Also, how would you not target demographics when it comes to things like clothing?
Unless everyone looks exactly the same, it's impossible.

What about intelligence? People with different levels of cognitive skills are interested in different things.
What about birth defects, even mild ones like allergies? You can't market the exact same thing to them as you do to everyone else because of their health issues.
What about sexuality? You can't market gay porn to straight people.

The only way to completely remove demographics is to become the Borg.

Vanilla ISIS:
The only way to completely remove demographics is to become the Borg.

Won't work. You would still have the the different uni-martixes with their different parts and purposes within the uni-mind.

Jux:

McMarbles:

Thaluikhain:
Ok, so we've got a bunch of clones and done away with money and sexuality and eliminated the disabled...if not all the clones are the same age, we've got a demographic based on age. No escaping it.

Better switch to robots, then.

new v old models

Trash the old models when you're done. What do they care? They're robots.

'A demographic free society' sounds like one that simply ignores intersectional problems until they run out of excuses.

That being said, why exactly? Humans are not uniform creatures to begin with. At our earlier developmental stages our brains beyond glial cells resemble little more than slime mold patterns of neuron growths and culture colony hubs parsing biologically excitable receptors and enzyme agitated information channels.

By the time a fetus is 15 weeks old, 100 billion neurons with constant, brain-spanning bioelectric signatures travelling >250km/hour. All of them unique. Every brain unique. Every brain of the most complex organism we will ever know, and for one that which its mysteries will consume us till the terminal breath of the last one of us alive.

From that pattern of unique growth and development we create abstract and intimate connections to one of the most sophisticated sensory arrays in the animal kingdom, and the thoughts we conjure from this highly intimate experience of reality born from these senses begin to span even past temporal or physical dimensions to birth true depictions and communicate stirrings of romanticism, horror, dread, whimsy, fantasy and truest affection.

Complex neural connections being formed at a rate of 400-500/sec during waking hours at the point of birth and being physically separated from the mother and in 2-3 months, we have already learnt the basics of understanding and reading human faces and quickly learning how to emulate them. By the time we're 6 we're making roughly 750 neural connections per second.

Absorbing like a sponge the world around usand how other humans relate to material existence, for better or worse.

Eventually as we practice our spatial awareness we develop complex motor control systems that are packaged within a streamlined, efficient system of muscles, ligature and hardened bone as we rapidly grow to resemble on average 5'03''-5'11'' bipedal structures that can endure hardship, pain and exposure to the elements almost second to none compared to other creatures of similar mass.

A body replete with instruments that allow us a massive degree of freedom over any other creature on the planet, of which the loss of them can drastically change our relationship to reality in ways that are so profound as to drive us to incredible depths of both depression and of powerful desire to overcome and inspire others by often inimitable passions to succeed.

From that common example of animal excellence we share, birth the sheer capacity for heightened thought and social awareness, that we count the stars at night and realise we are the only creature that is the universe recognising itself, we spread out and colonised nearly every corner of the planet, and we have sacrificed ourselves to save the spark of unrestricted life that beats within the chest of every other human. Creating a species-long legacy of service, adventure, dignity, honour and heroism that we will never likely see in another creature for as long as we are extant.

And we learn quite quickly that our flaws, no matter how ugly, are merely so ugly due to their comparison of our relative greatness and capacity for altruism and human beauty that we can display assuming sufficient strength of character.

I'll personally wager, no matter how far we traverse into the void of space we won't see something even remotely as noble as ourselves.

If humans were so simple as to not recognize how these un-uniform and alternating banks of life experience and social development that shape us into living exemplars of the fantastic diversity of thought and function due to us expanding out across nearly every biome of this majestic planet .... then I have little doubts that the question would matter so much.

We have a common spark of humanity that comes close to being described as divine. An equal inheritance to the greatest natural force we will likely ever experience. It's a mockery to choose not to endeavour to understand that by degrees, and downright awful to try to ignore its various trials and tribulations that may impact unjustly on other groups of people more than others of whom should recognize a common heritage.

The greatest insult, as if galactic quantities of salt rubbed into the wound, is pretending that all of this isn't worthy of exploration. An exploration of human diversity is no less the study of the greatest phenomena this universe will ever produce. And woe betide any society that fails to recognize human beauty and worthiness of respect.

How would we get rid of age demographics?

I think that considering the possibility of a 'demographic free' society is basically to consider the abolition of human nature itself. We are a tribal lot and we are exceedingly good at pointing out and maximizing differences between each other. Issues such as race may eventually fall away, but we will always be left with thing such as personal success and sex that will differentiate people.

Misterian:
What if you were in a society where you only identify yourself by name, your personality, your personal likes and dislikes, and literally nothing else?

What would such a society be like where you're conditioned not to identify yourself as part of any group or demographic that would make you separate from other human beings?

Those are two different scenarios. The only way they would match is if no one in that society shared the same name, personality, any personal like or any personal dislikes; and to be conditioned to see anyone who does (and those outside of the society) as non-humans.

Hey, that's a great concept for a dystopian novel! Hugo Awards, here I come!

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here