0093 - A discussion about purely hypothetical feelings. - 2019.07.15



If I were an "edgy" mid-nineties-era standup comedian, I think one of my bits would be about how the problem with the world is that all the wrong people are suicidal. I'd mime having a big hose machine that sucks all the depression and angst and self-loathing out of artsy gay teenagers and pumps it into war hawks and oil executives and bailed-out bankers and such. I'm sure it'd be a big hit.

Fortunately, I'm not a mid-nineties-era comedian. (Also, I happen to know that one of the highest-risk demographics for suicide is retiring men, so maybe encouraging older dudes to kill themselves isn't the greatest look.)

How risky does a behaviour pattern have to be before we consider it to be self-harming?

I mean, we let people drink and smoke. We let people climb mountains and sky-dive. We let people date and have sex. Is it just a matter of the individual's mindset? If two people are eating steak, one because they like the taste and one because, deep down, they want to die of a heart attack, do we encourage one and stop the other?

There are, of course, two kinds of suicidal thoughts - the "it would be better for everyone if I weren't around any more" type and the "I'm going to buy a gun and here's the list to complete before saving the last bullet for myself" type. Lee is definitely in the former camp, here. Or, rather, they are definitively not in either camp, because actually having suicidal thoughts is a big bad thing that requires immediate uncomfortable changes to one's lifestyle in order to fix, while having a big negative-space hole where the thought would go if you were to think it... that's fine. That's just curiosity. You can't stop someone from thinking about thinking about things, can you?

A certain amount of contemplation of your own mortality is natural. Even if one takes transhumanist immortality into account, it's weird and unhealthy if you don't acknowledge the possibility of your own elimination.

Anyway, Lee's fine. This is a utopia in which all their needs are met, after all, including the need for psychiatric counselling. Surely, no one could want to cease to exist if they live in a utopia, right?



0093 - 2167/07/06/12:15 - Lee Caldavera's apartment, living room
Zoa: I think you don't really want to be turned off, Lee, you just want to not feel bad. You imagine you'll prefer zero happiness over a collection of states that average to negative.
Zoa: But, of course, there'd be no you to prefer things. That's how that works.
LC: I know. I know it's stupid, I'm being stupid.
Zoa: It's a good thing all this talk about death is stricty hypothetical. You know if you mentioned actual self-harm...
LC: I know, I know, don't joke about suicide. No one's ever allowed to talk about wanting to self-harm, or everything turns into a giant emergency. Learned that lesson early, thank you very much.
Zoa: Y'know, depending on how you interpret it, Socrates committed suicide.
LC: I thought you said they were executed by the government.
Zoa: The Athenians handed them the hemlock, and Socrates drank it willingly. Sox had the chance to escape, and chose not to take it.
LC: Well, they did say they didn't know anything. Maybe they didn't know hemlock is poison, or they didn't know that poison kills you.
Zoa: Aren't you glad you live in the modern world, where there are helpful AIs to prevent you from making mistakes like that?