The world is being taken over by bunjee jumpers.
Yes, bunjee jumpers: people with a terrifyingly high anxiety threshold. Once there’s enough of them, they’re unstoppable and people with a more stable personality and a higher rate of anxiety slowly get pushed to the side.
The mechanism is fairly simple. Bunjee jumpers are accidents waiting to happen. Of course everybody is an accident waiting to happen, but for ordinary people the time span in which you can expect an accident is much longer. They also live at lower speeds, so they can more easily see accidents coming and evade them. Not so the high-speed bunjee jumper. They take higher financial risks, take on larger volumes of work and easily change their allegiances to people and institutions. Those are advantages in present day society. For bunjee jumpers, life in the lane that fits them best –the fast one- earns them bigger profits, a larger clientele and more prestigious cont(r)acts than their slower, more stable and dependable colleagues. It also earns them more problems, but that’s exactly what a bunjee jumper is looking for. They’re ‘challenges’. Having to see your employee in court is ‘part of the action’. Falling out with a fellow bunjee jumper ‘comes with the job’. To these people life never sucks.
Sure. An individual bunjee jumper in society is helpless. He’ll encounter his bankruptcy before the rest. Only when he’s terribly lucky he’ll see the accident coming and step out in time, and with a bit more luck he’ll -just by chance- never have his accident (yep, shit happens). A few bunjee jumpers aren’t bad either. Any disturbance they’ll cause, can be absorbed by society. It might even be good: some people can genuinely profit from regular outbursts of super-standard productivity, super-standard speed, under priced services and revolutionary ideas. These bursts of ‘dangerous competition’ also keeps the market and society at large alert and serves as a stimulus for innovation, creativity and change.
The problem comes with volume, when there’s enough of them around to instantly replace one bankrupt bunjee jumper with another. A whole herd of bunjee jumpers causes these regular bursts to merge into one steady level of activities. That level becomes steadier the larger the number of bunjee jumpers is, but it’s not intrinsically stable: it’s maintained by processes that peak on the sort term but are very instable individually. Only the fact that there are so many ‘peaks’ –the law of large numbers- makes the level more or less steady. This level is higher than where society was operating. In fact: it’s the new level at which it is now operating, because steadier, slower, more dependable people and companies can’t compete. Unless they turn into bunjee jumpers too.
Levels of activity, productivity, speed and prices used to be determined at a slower pace by ‘average’ people and companies regularly stimulated by fast, innovative and creative bunjee jumpers. You had market leaders and challengers and lot of competitors in between. Now it’s an anonymous body of high risk-seekers that -individually speaking- are utterly interchangeable. Personally they don’t matter.
In this new society more people go bankrupt or loose out, than ever before. For bunjee-jumpers this is not a problem as everything is a challenge. It’s the people with a lower anxiety threshold that loose out: they go bankrupt and loose heart. They become unemployed and loose faith. They’re turned into ‘the disabled’, not necessarily because they are, but because society as a whole has moved away from them to an area where they cannot function properly.
Society as a whole is not just all the people in it or ‘the market’. It’s also the values that a society holds. As bunjee jumpers become more of a determining factor in society, their values become more dominant. One of these values is: ‘everything is a challenge’. To them losing out is not a conceivable idea, it’s just a perception from which people need to turn away. Once they do, they’ll accept their ‘challenges’ and change their fate. Your fate is a choice, you’re always responsible for your own destiny: just some other examples of the values of a bunjee jumper. These values are not dead wrong: they’re stimulating and they prevent people from seeing themselves too easily as a victim. They combat inertia and stir people into action. The values of a bunjee jumper are very useful fallacies, but they’re fallacies. Ultimately they’re not the whole truth.
The whole truth is: the point at which people loose out, loose heart or loose their health is an arbitrary point, the ‘height’ of which widely varies among individuals. It’s not necessarily right to consider a high anxiety threshold as the norm simply because bunjee jumping behaviour tends to be seen as ‘successful’. Especially when ‘successful’ is determined on values typical for bunjee jumpers. The whole truth –well, an example actually- is: western society has about twice as much psychiatric patients compared to the rest of the world. That’s not because westerners are ‘madder’. It’s because their society’s values defines things like ‘normalcy’ and ‘success’ within twice as narrow boundaries.