We Are Numbers: the pressures of society

We push people into systems and then perform logical operations on them. Once in an appropriate form, we handle people with the rules of arithmetic: addition into groups, subtraction from their bank accounts, multiplication on their loans, and division between their societies. Even furthermore, we average the intelligence of groups, we label statistical abnormalities as potential health risks, and we categorize people by median income.  Like a calculator, we operate in the most logical forms, for this is the only way in which a human could ever operate on large numbers.

When one is born into society, we are assigned membership into our first dataset: citizenship. It is at this time, the infant becomes a number. Of course, it is more than a mere number for the parents and family, but to the people that perform logical operations on the members of society, it is but a number; the person who is responsible for the producion of studies on populations that are of tremendous magnitudes lacks the computational capacity, as well as the physical ability, to become personal or well acquainted with each person that is numerically represented in their population: no human, a researcher or other, could meet with and know personally each member of their population, especially if that population is of magnitudes beyond comprehension: I.e., ten million; one hundred million; one billion. This is analogous to the fact that a president cannot meet all his followers and supporters. Thus, one must conclude that, by biological limitations alone, the logic doctors cannot possibly treat a large populace as anything other than a number.

Every infant that is brought into the world is equivalent to a single tap of the addition button on the calculator: the infant is added to the citizen category. From there, the child will continue to be added into other categories, such as student, generation N, target-audience, and so on. For the rest of this child’s life, they will be a number within the calculators of number crunchers; as though the child had had a drunken night at a bar, they have become a number without a face.


Ideasinhat is a business development analyst and longtime reader of academic literature. He writes books and essays on science and philosophy, and posts them to this website. The essays, as with the books, cover topics from psychology, philosophy, and cognitive science to economics, politics, and law.

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