6 – Fighting and Biting


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Male Researcher: “My latest research project is so frustrating!” 

Female Researcher: What’s the problem?” 

Male: “It’s my lab rats. They keep fighting and biting! I don’t understand it!” 

Female: “Are they too crowded together? If they can’t maintain some personal space, rats can become quite aggressive.” 

M: “That’s the frustrating part. I actually gave them more space. I told them they can move out to the country. Work remotely. Haha.”

F: “That should make them happier, not more stressed. Hmm. I’m not sure what the problem could be. Can I take a look at their enclosure?”

M: “Sure. Step into my lab.” 

F: “Wow. I see what you mean. They really are spaced out. They have plenty of room. What are those little prongs sticking out of their heads?” 

M: “Oh, that’s part of my experiment. I wanted to improve their ability to communicate with each other over long distances, so I inserted STAR antennas into their brains.” 

F: “What’s a STAR antenna?”

M: “STAR stands for simultaneous transmission and reception.” 

F: “How exactly does it work?” 

M: “Well, the antennas enable them to communicate with each other constantly. Any of the rats can communicate with the others, no matter how far apart they are.” 

F: “Wow. That’s amazing. Can they control the device?” 

M: “Well, they can’t really control it. It transmits their thoughts automatically.” 

F: “Can they at least turn it off?” 

M: “In theory they could, but in reality they leave them on constantly.” 

F: “24/7/365? No breaks?” 

M: “Correct. I figured that with improved communication, they could share their thoughts more efficiently and develop a better understanding of each other. This should improve social harmony, and lead to a calmer, more empathetic environment. You know, improve community relations. Enhance civic engagement. That sort of thing.” 

F: “Civic engagement?” 

M: “Well, the rat version of it.” 

F: “I didn’t know there was a rat version.” 

M: “Haha. Some people might say the same thing about us humans!” 

F: “At any rate, I think I figured out your problem.”

M: “Really?” 

F: “Yes. You’re driving your rats crazy.

M: “Huh?” 

F: “Connecting all of them to each other with no breaks? What about their privacy? Their peace of mind? Their emotional balance?”

M: “But you don’t understand. They like it. They crave it constantly.”

F: “That doesn’t mean it’s good for them. Do you remember Alvin? We stuck a probe into his brain’s pleasure center and allowed him to push a lever to activate the stimulus.”

M: “Of course I remember Alvin. He was one of my favorite rats! What a good ol’ boy! That was one of our best experiments! Alvin loved it!” 

F: “Alvin starved to death. He couldn’t stop pushing the lever.” 

M: “Yeah, but what a way to go!” 

F: “My point is that too much communication is not always a good thing. While rats are very social creatures, everything has a limit. You’ve created your own version of an out-of-control insane asylum, where every crazy rat in existence has a bullhorn to transmit every nutty idea that pops into his head. No wonder your rats are so angry.” 

M: “But then why do they enjoy it so much?” 

F: “It’s the same as Alvin’s lever. He couldn’t stop pushing it. Too much stimulation is toxic. You’re flooding your rats with an insane amount of social interaction. They need a break. They need time to rest their minds. More interaction doesn’t always mean better communication. Especially when most of that communication is superficial or toxic. Try giving your rats a break. They obviously need help finding a proper balance.” 

M: “Too late for that. The cat is already out of the bag. These rats are hooked. They would never agree to remove their antennas.” 

F: “Agree? They’re rats. Can’t you just take them out?” 

M: “I doubt it. The institutional review board for experimental animal welfare probably wouldn’t allow it, since the rats clearly enjoy them. Besides, who am I to play God? If the rats want them, then so be it.” 

F: “Even if it is driving them crazy? Provoking anger? Decreasing social harmony? Besides, did you ask the rats if they wanted them in the first place?”

M: “Of course not! Rats can’t sign consent forms, you know. It was just an experiment.” 

F: “Well, from my perspective, it looks like a failed one.”

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