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Does civility only last a week?

emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
edited July 2007 in Debate and/or Discourse
I'm getting really tired of reading fiction where humanity is just a glittering generality and people are portrayed as sadistic malcontents when no authority figure is looking. Yes, some people do bad things but I have a hard time believing the bulk of people will fall into chaos if they hit a speed bump in their daily lives. So take this hypothetical - electricity is cut off for an entire city for one week. An evil genius with a cape and rocket boots wants to test the people living in a large urban setting and, using bizarre technologies, cuts the power for a week to see what happens. Chicago, Toronto, Moscow, doesn't matter - can people stand that kind of shocking change for long? If there's temporarily no central authority, is civilization going to revert to lootings, block warfare, only the strong survive, and all the rest of that crap referred to in fiction?

I have a bit of faith in humanity and I'll say no, we wouldn't go crazy without power for a week. It'd be a crisis but neighborhoods and small communities would band together and have the sense to ration supplies and protect each other, even in a big city setting. Now, power without a month? No, any city would be a burnt out husk by then but I think a week is doable.

emnmnme on
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Posts

  • Evil MultifariousEvil Multifarious Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    It's been demonstrated in real-life situations that civilization is a pretty thin veneer. Someone who acts like a moral human being in a time of duress is usually considered a hero.

    Evil Multifarious on
    Inquisitor wrote: »
    I fucking hate you Canadians.
  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    It's been demonstrated in real-life situations that civilization is a pretty thin veneer. Someone who acts like a moral human being in a time of duress is usually considered a hero.

    When the power went out in NYC a few years ago because of some issue with the grid civilization stood pretty damn strong. It was rather sad that the news took this and went with the approach of 'New Yorkers not rioting at first chance!!!!' but that doesn't diminish the feat. Now, if it were to drag on for a week...

    moniker on
  • DrezDrez Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    moniker wrote: »
    It's been demonstrated in real-life situations that civilization is a pretty thin veneer. Someone who acts like a moral human being in a time of duress is usually considered a hero.

    When the power went out in NYC a few years ago because of some issue with the grid civilization stood pretty damn strong. It was rather sad that the news took this and went with the approach of 'New Yorkers not rioting at first chance!!!!' but that doesn't diminish the feat. Now, if it were to drag on for a week...

    I'm not sure if you're kidding or not, but I was in NYC for the blackout too (and I'm still here) and if it HAD lasted an entire week there would have been chaos. I'm nearly positive of that.

    Drez on
  • Evil MultifariousEvil Multifarious Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    I wouldn't consider a power outage lasting a week to be a real test of the limits of human civility

    Of course our entire urban existence is a tall, precarious tower balanced on the marvel that is electricity, I guess. Even feeding yourself can get tricky after a week of no power. So maybe it is.

    Evil Multifarious on
    Inquisitor wrote: »
    I fucking hate you Canadians.
  • DrezDrez Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    That Elizabeth Shue movie comes to mind. The Trigger Effect.

    Drez on
  • Chaos TheoryChaos Theory Registered User
    edited July 2007
    Hell I'm an anarchist and I don't think such an abrupt lack of key resources would do any favors for civilization as far as any semblance of order goes. I suppose it depends, but as it is I can't say humankind is anything but very reliant on its technology to the point of disaster if technology fails.

    Chaos Theory on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • DrezDrez Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qv71wVPOnsY

    Haha (trailer for The Trigger Effect).

    Drez on
  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Hell I'm an anarchist and I don't think such an abrupt lack of key resources would do any favors for civilization as far as any semblance of order goes. I suppose it depends, but as it is I can't say humankind is anything but very reliant on its technology to the point of disaster if technology fails.

    Disaster, no, we would just revert to the previous level of technology. It would take a hell of a lot for us to go back to subsistence farming en masse not to mention the simple fact that our dependence on technological infrastructure is far from precarious. Sure we need more redundancy and fail-safes, but we're pretty damn safe. Especially Chicago, to go with your first example. We're mostly powered by nukes and are sitting on the largest water cooler in the world with a river flowing backwards for sanitation, and the nation's bread basket at our doorstep. Even if the world reverted to fiefdoms we'd be able to cope fairly well.

    moniker on
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    edited July 2007
    In the event of a long-term power outage, or natural disaster, or other infrastructure breakdown... sure, some people would turn into predators. Look at Katrina or the LA riots. Others would try to be good samaritans and prevent or undo the damage done by those people. The majority, though, would just try to defend their own lives and property.

    This should be pretty much self-evident. Some people are very bad, some people are very good, most are just trying to eek by.

    Unfortunately, it's usually easier to be destructive than to be benevolent - easier to burn down a house than to build one; easier to kill than to save the dying; etc. So even if only a tiny, tiny minority of people were destructive fuckwits, they'd sadly do an amount of damage disproportionate to their own numbers.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • FellhandFellhand Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    See, I think it depends on location. If this was done in a metropolitan city then I think there would be riots and looting and other shit. When a 'disaster' strikes people turn toward hoarding resources and thinking more about the immediate survival of them and theirs.

    However, in small areas, such as up here, losing power for a week hasn't been a big deal. Earlier this year we had a massive wind storm that torn down trees and knocked out power in one of our larger towns (it's technically large enough to be a city :)). Everything carried on like normal. But then again, we don't really have much up here to fight for.

    Fellhand on
  • MikeManMikeMan Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    If you look at what happens in times of disaster, it's pretty clear that when normalcy is disrupted, and people think they can't trust authority anymore, things collapse.

    MikeMan on
    HOW DO YOU FUCK UP BAGELS. YOU BOIL THE WATER. PUT IN THE NOODLES
  • Chaos TheoryChaos Theory Registered User
    edited July 2007
    moniker wrote: »
    Hell I'm an anarchist and I don't think such an abrupt lack of key resources would do any favors for civilization as far as any semblance of order goes. I suppose it depends, but as it is I can't say humankind is anything but very reliant on its technology to the point of disaster if technology fails.

    Disaster, no, we would just revert to the previous level of technology. It would take a hell of a lot for us to go back to subsistence farming en masse not to mention the simple fact that our dependence on technological infrastructure is far from precarious. Sure we need more redundancy and fail-safes, but we're pretty damn safe. Especially Chicago, to go with your first example. We're mostly powered by nukes and are sitting on the largest water cooler in the world with a river flowing backwards for sanitation, and the nation's bread basket at our doorstep. Even if the world reverted to fiefdoms we'd be able to cope fairly well.

    Yeah, and what I'm saying is that change would be so drastic that it would be coupled with nothing short of immense tragedy, even if humanity pulls through in the long run.

    Chaos Theory on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS
    edited July 2007
    Well, considering how long it took the New Orleans population to turn into barbarians after Katrina hit...

    ege02 on
    Medopine wrote: »
    Fuck that woman going "oh god oh no!!"

    It's nature, bitch
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    edited July 2007
    I will point out that a lot of the media reports of violence during Katrina were overblown. I'm not saying it didn't happen, just that it didn't happen to nearly the degree that the big news networks were portraying it.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS
    edited July 2007
    Feral wrote: »
    I will point out that a lot of the media reports of violence during Katrina were overblown. I'm not saying it didn't happen, just that it didn't happen to nearly the degree that the big news networks were portraying it.

    I always get reminded of that story where two guys in a rescue boat come across a woman sitting stuck on a piece of debris or something, and they tell her she must show them her breasts otherwise she's staying where she is at.

    Granted this may not be the representation of the entire population, it is still a useful illustration that during disasters, people who are seemingly doing "good deeds" may still resort to immoral/unethical behavior to get something out of it.

    ege02 on
    Medopine wrote: »
    Fuck that woman going "oh god oh no!!"

    It's nature, bitch
  • HooraydiationHooraydiation Registered User
    edited July 2007
    A month is still relatively short.

    Hooraydiation on
    Home-1.jpg
  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2007
    ege02 wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    I will point out that a lot of the media reports of violence during Katrina were overblown. I'm not saying it didn't happen, just that it didn't happen to nearly the degree that the big news networks were portraying it.

    I always get reminded of that story where two guys in a rescue boat come across a woman sitting stuck on a piece of debris or something, and they tell her she must show them her breasts otherwise she's staying where she is at.

    Granted this may not be the representation of the entire population, it is still a useful illustration that during disasters, people who are seemingly doing "good deeds" may still resort to immoral/unethical behavior to get something out of it.

    Didn't most of those stories turn out to be made up out of whole cloth by right wing bloggers and bigoted locals?

    The Cat on
    tmsig.jpg
  • QuidQuid I don't... what... hnnng Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    From where I saw things, yes.

    Quid on
  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Stop letting facts get in the way of apparently justifiable misanthropic cynicism.

    moniker on
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    edited July 2007
    The Cat wrote: »
    ege02 wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    I will point out that a lot of the media reports of violence during Katrina were overblown. I'm not saying it didn't happen, just that it didn't happen to nearly the degree that the big news networks were portraying it.

    I always get reminded of that story where two guys in a rescue boat come across a woman sitting stuck on a piece of debris or something, and they tell her she must show them her breasts otherwise she's staying where she is at.

    Granted this may not be the representation of the entire population, it is still a useful illustration that during disasters, people who are seemingly doing "good deeds" may still resort to immoral/unethical behavior to get something out of it.

    Didn't most of those stories turn out to be made up out of whole cloth by right wing bloggers and bigoted locals?

    The BBC covered it, but the only person who I can find who actually reported seeing it was this guy named Ged Scott, a bus driver on holiday from the UK. So, yeah, if a bus driver from the UK said it, it must be true.

    There was a much more well-documented account of a New Orleans resident who voluntarily flashed her breasts at police to ensure that they'd routinely patrol her home.

    Regarding media sensationalism and rumor-mongering, Reason Magazine had a pretty well-sourced article on it. I don't usually care for Reason, but this article seems pretty solid.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • IncenjucarIncenjucar Audio Game Developer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Feral wrote: »
    There was a much more well-documented account of a New Orleans resident who voluntarily flashed her breasts at police to ensure that they'd routinely patrol her home.

    I weep for the fact that humanity works that way, but shit, smart woman.

    Incenjucar on
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    edited July 2007
    gtrmp wrote: »

    I can see that. Three meals a day, that means one full day without food, and another morning where there's no promise of food on the horizon.

    Waking up hungry can do a lot to fuck with a person's resolve.

    The thing is, it would take a lot of infrastructure damage to cause a whole area to use up all its food supplies and then have no food for a day and a half. That's not a week's power outage, that's a severe Katrina-level natural disaster.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS
    edited July 2007
    Feral wrote: »
    gtrmp wrote: »

    I can see that. Three meals a day, that means one full day without food, and another morning where there's no promise of food on the horizon.

    Waking up hungry can do a lot to fuck with a person's resolve.

    The thing is, it would take a lot of infrastructure damage to cause a whole area to use up all its food supplies and then have no food for a day and a half. That's not a week's power outage, that's a severe Katrina-level natural disaster.

    Eh, for most people, at least for most people in America, coffee is enough of a breakfast.

    Speaking of coffee, I think a coffee outage would be infinitely more dangerous for the order of our society than a power outage.

    ege02 on
    Medopine wrote: »
    Fuck that woman going "oh god oh no!!"

    It's nature, bitch
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    edited July 2007
    ege02 wrote: »
    Eh, for most people, at least for most people in America, coffee is enough of a breakfast.

    Try that after not eating for 24 hours and not having any idea where your next meal is coming from.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • QuidQuid I don't... what... hnnng Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    ege02 wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    gtrmp wrote: »

    I can see that. Three meals a day, that means one full day without food, and another morning where there's no promise of food on the horizon.

    Waking up hungry can do a lot to fuck with a person's resolve.

    The thing is, it would take a lot of infrastructure damage to cause a whole area to use up all its food supplies and then have no food for a day and a half. That's not a week's power outage, that's a severe Katrina-level natural disaster.

    Eh, for most people, at least for most people in America, coffee is enough of a breakfast.

    Speaking of coffee, I think a coffee outage would be infinitely more dangerous for the order of our society than a power outage.
    I can't imagine coffee would be enough after a day of no food.

    Quid on
  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS
    edited July 2007
    Quid wrote: »
    ege02 wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    gtrmp wrote: »

    I can see that. Three meals a day, that means one full day without food, and another morning where there's no promise of food on the horizon.

    Waking up hungry can do a lot to fuck with a person's resolve.

    The thing is, it would take a lot of infrastructure damage to cause a whole area to use up all its food supplies and then have no food for a day and a half. That's not a week's power outage, that's a severe Katrina-level natural disaster.

    Eh, for most people, at least for most people in America, coffee is enough of a breakfast.

    Speaking of coffee, I think a coffee outage would be infinitely more dangerous for the order of our society than a power outage.
    I can't imagine coffee would be enough after a day of no food.

    I wasn't really comparing a coffee outage with a food outage.

    I think, in the short term and on a personal level, we are more dependent on caffeine than on power. Sure, without power productivity would suffer a shit ton, but without caffeine a lot of people would simply not be able to wake up, and, if they did, stay awake.

    ege02 on
    Medopine wrote: »
    Fuck that woman going "oh god oh no!!"

    It's nature, bitch
  • QuidQuid I don't... what... hnnng Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Okay, what? The guy was talking about going more than a day without food. You said coffee would be enough of a breakfast the following day.

    And hunger is a bigger motivator than caffeine. By a long shot.

    Quid on
  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS
    edited July 2007
    Quid wrote: »
    Okay, what? The guy was talking about going more than a day without food. You said coffee would be enough of a breakfast the following day.

    And hunger is a bigger motivator than caffeine. By a long shot.

    I think we're speaking in different frequencies here.

    I know what he was talking about. I took his "waking up hungry can do a lot to fuck with a person's resolve" statement out of context and responded to it. That's why it's bolded. I then used it to transition to what I was about to say.

    Again, not comparing lack of food to lack of caffeine. I'm comparing lack of power to lack of caffeine.

    ege02 on
    Medopine wrote: »
    Fuck that woman going "oh god oh no!!"

    It's nature, bitch
  • QuidQuid I don't... what... hnnng Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Bolding stuff doesn't take it out of context. Bolding it just highlights that specific line. It's still in context. See, if you look up you can still see it there with all the other words.

    In fact, the whole idea of taking things out of context would be pointless anyway. It was being discussed that going more than a day without food would cause a severe drop in civility and you chime in to tell us that it wouldn't happen with the first meal? Well thank you. Prehaps we should discuss what would happen three meals down then.

    Quid on
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    I think the big lesson is always that containing the bad takes an insane amount of effort compared to helping people do good. If you look at the way the police, military etc. all operate in terms of threat removal, we basically depend on overwhelming force from our various governments and agencies in order to provide the safety and security we expect.

    electricitylikesme on
  • OceaniaxOceaniax Registered User
    edited July 2007
    I agree with several of the other posters, I hardly think that a power outage would accurately display human behavior. Too many aspects of civilization, and the consequences thereof would still be in place.

    *There's still the possibility of being arrested, although lower.
    *You still the families/friends coworkers.
    *You'd likely still have your job
    *Land line phones would still work
    *etc, etc

    If you truly want to test human morality, you have to assure people of one of the following:
    1) No one is coming to help them
    2) No one is going to get caught for any crime
    3) Your death is assured in X amount of time
    4) No one will think less of you and no consequences will come to anyone you care about for what you do.

    Convince people of one or more of the above, for just a day or two, and I bet you'd see an incredibly rapid decay of many people's civility and morality. People hold firm to morality and behavior because it's what everyone else does, and because there are inevitable social or physical consequences to disobediance.


    With that said though, it's incredibly difficult for society to truly break down and for the majority of people to give up their morality. Not because they're innately good mind you, goodness no. No, more likely because we understand the vast ramifications of changing our morality and behavior. Consequences to yourself, your family, your legacy after you die, your income, your social status, even the consequences of what will happen in the afterlife.

    Breaking down all these barriers would be incredibly difficult, and I even daresay impossible in entirety. The only way you would see a total and complete breakdown of society as we know it is if you were able to assure people with 100% certainty that no consequences, both in this life or the next, would ever come to them or those they care about.




    PS: The whole coffee comment is merely stating that if someone is hungry and unable to sustain themselves, and STILL has no idea if/when they will ever get to eat again, they will enter survival mode. At that point society means little. Morality means little. It is survival of the fittest. It's hard to picture for some people in our day to day society, but if you have a bit of imagination you can see where it goes from there.

    Oceaniax on
  • TechBoyTechBoy Registered User
    edited July 2007
    Well if it's just isolated cities losing power, civilization could easily get by in a week. The National Guard would have to come in an give the city a ton of support. Rebuffing the hospital with staff and power generators. Policing the streets, especially at night. I'd imagine there'd be lots of looting, and small outbreaks of violence due to rising tensions. Grumpy people who haven't had fresh meats and veggies in a few days due to the lack of refrigeration. I'd imagine if it was only isolated cities, after a few days a lot of the population would go stay with relatives and friends in other cities until the power situation is resolved.

    A crisis for sure, but manageable. Civilization would be intact. Lots of destroyed property, lost revenue and productivity, and surely a sizable amount of lost life. But people would be able to rebuild and resume civilization in time.

    Now if the whole country lost power for a week?
    FUCK

    TechBoy on
    tf2_sig.png
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Thinking about this, I'd have a lot of BBQ's.

    electricitylikesme on
  • Muramasa18Muramasa18 Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Cities in hurricane zones have lost power, and worse, for a week or more plenty of times before. It's not THAT bad.

    Muramasa18 on
  • MrMisterMrMister A pup must first get in the water to be successful as a seal!Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Oceaniax wrote: »
    Convince people of one or more of the above, for just a day or two, and I bet you'd see an incredibly rapid decay of many people's civility and morality.

    Is their morality really decaying, or are we just seeing how morality works itself out in a setting where there's no oversight?

    MrMister on
  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2007
    Thinking about this, I'd have a lot of BBQ's.
    Oh, hullo Aussie :lol:

    The Cat on
    tmsig.jpg
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    The Cat wrote: »
    Thinking about this, I'd have a lot of BBQ's.
    Oh, hullo Aussie :lol:
    You were thinking it.

    electricitylikesme on
  • Andrew_JayAndrew_Jay Registered User
    edited July 2007
    gtrmp wrote: »
    Huh, so I guess the "stiff upper-lip" only applies when said lip has had some crumpets and bangers pass through it recently.

    Andrew_Jay on
  • DrezDrez Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    ege02 wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    gtrmp wrote: »

    I can see that. Three meals a day, that means one full day without food, and another morning where there's no promise of food on the horizon.

    Waking up hungry can do a lot to fuck with a person's resolve.

    The thing is, it would take a lot of infrastructure damage to cause a whole area to use up all its food supplies and then have no food for a day and a half. That's not a week's power outage, that's a severe Katrina-level natural disaster.

    Eh, for most people, at least for most people in America, coffee is enough of a breakfast.

    Speaking of coffee, I think a coffee outage would be infinitely more dangerous for the order of our society than a power outage.

    That's silly. Plus, a power outage almost certainly includes a coffee outage. Not many people know how to roast coffee beans over a fire, grind them manually, and concoct a brew without a coffee maker.

    Drez on
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