Mutually Assured Cancellation

A thought about nuclear proliferation

I am worried about my kid.

I think I told you before about his school [link]. It is not a pretty institution, but every family in my city is forced to take their children there every day.

Yours are there, too, whether you like it, or not.

A while ago this super-popular kid—you know the type: handsome, strong, good at sports, good at maths, too, so lovable, so hateable—found a way to hack the smartphones of every other kid, and was so able to find out all their dirty and embarrassing pictures and secrets. Everybody’s got them. Initially, nobody believed he had such awesome power, so Uso—that’s his name—made a very loud demonstration, airing all Japano’s secrets in tiktok. Uso and Japano had a loud quarrel back then. Actually, everybody pretty much was involved in the fight, but I disgress—that’s a while ago. My point is that Japano’s social life was totally and instantly destroyed, and it took ages for him to recover from that. Now he is doing fine, thank god—he’s a good pal of Uso, actually.

Rusio—a royal asshole, let me tell you—managed to learn the hacking trick, too. My kid was threatened, but fortunately he was accepted into Uso’s gang—god bless him, and Rusio left him alone to focus his attention on weaker kids. Yeah, he’s that kind of person.

Other kids also went the extra mile to get the hacking kit. There was Uko and Franso, both good Uso pals. But also Chino, a big bully himself. Israelo claims he hasn’t got it, but he says it with a smirk and a wink. Indio and Pakistano have them, too, and are at each other’s throats. Paradoxically, the fear of having your dirty laundry being aired on tiktok seems to have made everybody less violent. Mutually Assured Embarrassment is a powerful pacifier.

Until now. Times are changing. And my kid is terrified.

Where to begin? Okay, what about if I tell you about this other horrible boy—Norkoreo. You cannot imagine what he is capable of. A psychopath like no other in school. Well, he is of course a loner, a pariah.

Or rather, he was.

You see, he began making efforts himself to get the hacking kit. As soon as the other kids got wind of this, they tried to antagonize him even more. As if you could antagonize a pariah. Well, Norkoreo intensified its efforts, and he was successful! Since then, everybody dramatically changed how they behave with him. With silk gloves, now. It is disgusting. even Uso treated him with the highest possible respect not long ago. I wanted to puke.

Oh, another one was what happened with Ukraino. You know he got his hands on Rusio’s kit? It took some convincing him to give the kit up, in exchange for the personal guarantees of Uso, Uko and Rusio against bullying of any sort.

And you know how well that went. Personal guarantees are worth nothing nowadays in this school, my kid tells me.

Of course other kids are extracting the obvious lessons. Irano, for example, also a bully, is hastily following Norkoreo’s steps. You don’t need to be a genius to know how that will end. We’ve seen it before! From pariah to feared. From scum to respect. That’s the promise of the hacking kit.

It’s getting worse. You see, most of the coolest children (the richest and handsomest, like my own kid), are in Uso’s gang. And they’re looking at the increasing availability of hacking kits with understanding nervosity. Many of them are considering getting their own. Uso is promising them that it is not necessary, that he will protect the entire gang. But, you see, he is suffering lately these strange schizophrenic attacks, and some days he is all for the gang, other days he gets really depressed or something and goes on his knees on a quiet corner, leaving the rest of the gang all looking at each other with wide-eyed anxious eyes.

I have no doubt they are pursuing kits themselves in secret. I asked my kid to do so, and I hope he does. Otherwise, he is a fool.

Yes, the situation is deteriorating rapidly. The school has fallen victim to the classic Prisoner’s Dilemma of Game Theory [link].

The solution?

Short of somebody getting his shit together and getting control of every kid’s smartphone, there is really none. The school is changing forever. Everybody and their dog will have the hacking kit. And one day, there will be a disaster.

And with this happy thought, I let you go for today. Please, convince yourself that I am wrong, all right? I will try myself. After all, it does happen. 🙂

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