From Fantasy to Reality: Social Ranking

By Fritz Stephey | United States

There are a list of pet-peeves I have when it comes to political discussion. Particularly, they are when people justify either giving the government more power because a majority agrees it should have more power, or when people argue that due to democracy, the majority should always rule.

As a matter of fact, that is what pushed me to my libertarian leanings.  Of course, all you really need is a short trip through a history book to see cases where what the majority thought was in fact, wrong.

Now, in our on-demand, media fueled world, there have been numerous television shows that have tackled our ever expanding obsession with social media. The most notable example would probably be an episode of the Netflix series Black Mirror, titled “Nosedive,” which highlights a social ranking system. In it, individuals rank each other on a 1 to 5 star scale. Then, your overall ranking effects almost every aspect of your life (do you need a security deposit on a car rental; can you skip ahead in medical lines; can you be approved for a loan; are you even allowed to be a passenger on a train or airplane?).

It may not seem all that scary at first, because in a way we do have things like that in place now, albeit on different scales. Try getting a loan when you take out too many or have a weak credit score because of your current debt load, for example.

Maybe an ever scarier episode was from Seth MacFarlane’s The Orville in an episode called “Majority Rule,” where everyone wears an “Upvote/Downvote” button on their chest. Based on your actions and interactions, which can be broadcast to the entire world, you could get downvoted so badly that you get sent to reconditioning, where essentially your brain gets fried and you become in a neutral state of “correctness.”

Of course, none of this could really happen in real life, right?

But did you know that as far back as 2014, China made preparations for rolling out a national ranking system? It is not a voluntary system, the rules and regulation are run in secrecy, and it is projected by 2020 they will have this system running full scale, however The Independent reports millions are already enrolled, and it’s mandatory.

I am sure that somewhere out there, there is a group of people who will say the old, tired argument: If you aren’t doing anything wrong, what have you to worry about?

My answer is always the same: You have everything to worry about.

For example, this system in China is set up by the Government, and overseen sometimes by city councils or even tech companies. Already there is a massive prying into your privacy. Almost no stone would be left unturned, as every aspect of your life is audited to adjust your score. Things that you may have even made honest mistakes about could be factored in. Where does the ranking stop?

Is this the kind of world people want to live in? One where every single little action is judged not by some omnipotent God with the greatest power of discernment, but rather impressionable, flawed human beings. What is really to become of the human experience if we all sacrifice it to the unrelenting mob? What about the core beliefs of America?

Here in America, we have a certain set of core beliefs that is constantly eroding. Our founders built it in the framework of our documents. If you had a good political discourse in your education, you probably had to memorize the preamble of the constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Note the line that I put in bold: secure the Blessings of Liberty. That is what our founders believed the purpose of Government was. And what is liberty? You can surely google it and it will give you a definition: “the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views,” but I like to go one step deeper with Merriam-Webster: the power of choice.

How many more places in the world will look at China and think that some Nationalized ranking system is a good idea to try to control people and their behavior? How many of you believe coercive conformity is a great idea? The answer is always seemingly the same: when someone is on a particular side and their side is winning, they don’t think about the alternative. The pendulum is swinging their way. They are quick to forget that eventually the pendulum swings the other way, generally faster and farther than it did previously.

Not me. I am far too concerned with not wanting my fundamental right to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness trampled, nor do I want to trample those rights for any other individual who has otherwise done nothing wrong.

The question remains, how many more people will stand and realize how very flawed a system such as China’s is, and staunchly defend the ideals and principles of liberty, which still have much of a fight left to be restored properly.

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