A crazy dictator (let's face it, most of them are) decrees that all of his subjects must wear a box over their head when outside their homes.

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There are no eyeholes allowed and the police (who are exempted whilst on duty) check at regular intervals. The boxes are of a standard size and have to be worn level as shown in the photo. They are sold with special internal headgear that ensures this.

People can see a limited amount of the ground, so signposts etc. are painted on the floor. People never see the faces of anyone they have never met at home. There are some illegal establishments that have mirrors on the floor but the penalties for attending these are very severe. Mirrors are banned in all public places.

It would be impossible to police inside everyone's home. Friends can take off their boxes in each others homes. Any suspicion that this is being done for profit or to promote discontent or boxless 'orgies' will lead to police raids and severe penalties. Be careful if you have more than a couple of guests at a time.


The dictator is very repressive. He has now banned all cameras of any kind unless they are government approved and used by the national newspaper or the national broadcasting system. Of course there may be a black market in cameras.

The internet is heavily censored but it exists and tech-savvy people can view non-box and pre-box material. This is not approved but very difficult to prevent. Just don't be caught with any of it on your hard-disk. Because cameras are illegal it is very difficult and risky to make video material of any kind.


How would this restriction affect:

  1. Dating

  2. Sports

  3. Entertainment

  4. Crime

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    $\begingroup$ Okay, I have to admit, I'm very curious what this boxed society is for! I did have one question, you mention no eyeholes, is there any chance you could allow modifications to make it easier to hear, or are you intending to lock down both sight and sound at the same time? Also as a sanity check: do I get to see out if I lie down and rest my box on the ground? $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 17:56
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    $\begingroup$ Well, for one thing I anticipate that crime and anti-social behaviour would be very low. The dictator is very repressive and this is his way of keeping people under control. As soon as someone removes their box they can be shot or arrested. The boxes are of thin but rigid material so hearing is not much of a problem. By touching them together you get direct transmission of sound. There is no lying down in public! You may use a park bench to rest on but you must remain upright. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 18:04
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure how dating, sports, entertainment or crime would be affected, but everyone is going to be constantly bumping into each other if they can't see nothing 10cm forward or to the sides. Also people will invest on GPS devices that work with headphones, so that they know where they are, and where they are going. $\endgroup$
    – Gusk
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 18:08
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    $\begingroup$ I would lead a daring revolution of like minded followers who would replace the box with a paper bag. $\endgroup$
    – Oldcat
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 18:29
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    $\begingroup$ Oh lets try driving with boxes over our heads! (nutty dictator smiles and nods with approval). You too, pilots! (enthusiastic rigorous nods). Sky divers! Skiing! Astronauts!! (Happy maniacal laughter) $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 9:45

2 Answers 2


How would this restriction affect:

Dating - calves and ankles would (legs in general) would become much more noticed and noticeable. Even men would pay attention to what shoes they wear.

Sports - Hockey, floor hockey and racing (running) would be about all you could do, and they would all need to be televised so people can watch them from home.

Entertainment - movies would be boring unless pre-box movies are allowed. And can people film themselves at home without their box? what about internet cams? If internet cams are available, then a lot of dating will happen this way!

Crime - In many ways this will make it much easier. say I'm a pickpocket, I get a little mirror that can 'look' below the rim of my box. Even giving me 10 foot extra view is a huge advantage. (or have 'one way' holes in the box). First spot the cops, likely won't need many for long since it's pretty easy to see who's complying. Then pick a pocket and run. With boxes it makes it VERY hard to identify anyone for a crime. "THAT ONE WITH THE BOX LIFTED A CASE OF MOUNTAIN DEW". It would also be hard to spot, thieves. A camera would have to be watching the store and someone watching the live video.


Actually, I would buy pinhole cameras and have them in all four corners with a little screen for viewing... ;)

  • $\begingroup$ Good suggestions and questions. I shall edit my question to be clearer. I don't fancy your chances running from an unboxed police-officer with a gun! In any case you can be stopped and searched for illegal cameras or mirrors. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 19:20
  • $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK The point was, you figure out where the police are and find a street they are not on. Then you can run from the person you robbed! $\endgroup$
    – bowlturner
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 19:34
  • $\begingroup$ I will never, ever, ever run a race with a box covering my head. :-) There are broken ankles just waiting to happen there. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 19:47
  • $\begingroup$ @HDE226868 :) I was assuming that there would be painted lines to follow around the track... $\endgroup$
    – bowlturner
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 19:48
  • $\begingroup$ @bowlturner Yeah, but running into other people would hurt a lot. :P $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 19:49

So this box is unusual enough that its effects are best seen not by looking at the box, but how it affects the senses, and how we adapt to them.

The effect on sight is the obvious one. If one cannot see more than a meter away due to the box, the value of sight will diminish. Likely this will lead to nearsightedness, for the same reason books lead to nearsightedness - there's just no particular value in being able to see far anymore.

The effect on hearing is more subtle. You'd be astonished at just how much information our brain processes out of the sound waves reaching our ears. For example, did you know you can tell if something is above or below you, simply by whether you hear the characteristics of echos off your own shoulders?

The box is a horridly designed structure for this sort of advanced auditory processing, so it seems like a likely place to make modifications first. Inside the box, we would start to see custom shaped inserts which give a more organic shape to the inside of the box and get rid of all those horrible boxy echos. Eventually people would get the hang of making them in a way that mimics how the peaks and valleys of the human ear works, giving us a remarkable amount of directional information. I would also expect some clever hijacking of muscles (perhaps the muscles that wiggle the ears) to control the size and focus of the opening. Wiggle your ears up, and the inserts may open up to let you hear smaller sounds better!

The sense of touch would become far more important, because each person's world would get smaller. The things that matter in the world would always be close into you. If a friend was across the road, you might not even know it unless you recognized their footfalls!

The single most monumental change would be the inability to see someone's face as you talk to them. The amount of emotional information conveyed in the face is staggering. Society, however, is not one to give up the good fight. We would develop new ways to convey that emotional bond. Touch is a powerful medium, so we may see it become proper etiquette to touch hands while talking to someone. Kissing the Papal ring is a ritual in our age, but that opportunity to touch the papal hand would actually be incredibly meaningful in this society.

Of course, talking would be less popular. With the inability to see who can evesdrop, broadcasting communications like that are risky. Every individual would know some sort of sign language which can be used between two people (or perhaps even more). This would double as an excellent way to convey emotions with the hands.

Now for the list:

Dating We would find ways to be "shallow." The ability to show beauty at the skin depth will not be lost simply because we don't have eyes. Careful care of hands would replace careful care of the face. Physical contact would be a lot more important in dating. Whether that makes dating deeper or more shallow is really up to you.

Sports Sports would consist mostly of tasks which could be observed by touch or very short range sight. I would expect strength games like tug of war would be very popular. I would expect not to see very much in the way of speed games. A lack of visual capability means its much more dangerous to go quickly, so it won't be valued as high.

Entertainment Group entertainment would have to be auditory, so singing would be a major form of entertainment. People would also likely dance, given the tactile feedback one gets from dance. Obviously there would not be anything like movies.

One thing which would have interesting changes is magic. I'd expect close-quarters magic to be a major pastime because it is almost perfectly selected for by boxing everyone's head.


Your instinct was that crime would go down. However, I disagree. I think crime would skyrocket. One of the primary tools our society has in place to deal with crime is the justice system. Justice depends on identification, and the box removes virtually all methods of reliable identification. Heightened hearing might help, but I would expect drive by muggings to be a major problem with little to no response possible.

The only solution would be for your dictator to have an iron fist rule. But then crime isn't decreased by the box, its decreased by the dictator

  • $\begingroup$ Drive-bys - I'm not sure how easy it would be to drive with a box on your head. Could you expand on this please? $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 20:16
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    $\begingroup$ Point, drive-by was the wrong term. I'm referring to the case of walking up to someone from behind, stabbing them, taking their valuables, and walking off. It'd be hard to stop since you could do it in the middle of a subway and STILL nobody could describe the perpetrator. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 20:51
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting point. I imagine some people would take to stowing their valuables inside their box where they could see them. I get what you mean though. Unless there were police or government CCTV nearby it would be very difficult to chase someone. If you were desperate you could remove your box in order to do so but then you would risk getting shot yourself. Yes, in rough areas, paranoia would be rampant - even more than now. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 21:25

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