Over the past few months I've been doing a lot of reading about cryonics, and though I agree with the arguments of Eliezer Yudkowsky and Robin Hanson on the issue, I still feel uncomfortable about actually signing up. Upon reflection, my true rejection is my fear of the social cost of cryonics, i.e. being perceived as weird and completely incomprehensible by everyone around me. I've read the "Hostile Wife Phenomenon" article on Depressed Metabolism, the New York Times Magazine article on Robin Hanson's personal situation (as well as Robin's reply), and scores of comments on LessWrong, and it looks a lot of cryonicists do indeed experience the feeling that Eliezer describes in Lonely Dissent.
My concerns about the social cost of cryonics can be broken down into two categories:
- Loss of existing relationships with family, friends, etc. I value the relationships I currently have with my family and friends, and signing up for cryonics would jeopardize many of these relationships. Most of my friends and family members are not interested in rationality and would be completely baffled if I decided to sign up. Nonetheless, I do not want to lose these relationships, as they are currently an important part of my life; I would consider my life to be significantly worse than it is now if I had to sever a lot of these emotional ties.
- Increased difficulty of forming relationships in the future. I'm not particularly good at forming new relationships, and I'm very worried that signing up for cryonics will create an insurmountable social stigma that will make it nearly impossible for me to do so.
Overall, though, I have very little information about what the social cost of cryonics really is beyond a few scattered anecdotes and secondhand descriptions of cryonicists' lives. Ultimately, I don't really know how many of my fears would actually be realized if I signed up. This makes it difficult to for me to make a decision, as I am very risk-averse and I feel reluctant to choose something that could potentially make the next six or seven decades of my life miserable. As a result, I have decided to engage in some data collection.
To do so, I would like to hear about your experiences. If you are currently signed up for cryonics, I would very much appreciate it if you took a minute or two to describe the effects that signing up has had on your relationships and your social life in general. If you are not signed up, your feedback on this topic is still welcome. Links to articles would be good, but discussion of personal experiences would be better.