Department of Wellness Enforcement investigates stress offenders

Design fiction brief

1.  What kind of story do you want to tell and how?

My design fiction will take the form of radio-ready investigative news story that explains how the Department of Wellness Enforcement came to be and what they do exactly.

2.  What is the “what if” question?

What if…

Under the urgings of First Lady Michelle Obama, President Barak Obama enacted a law that establishes a new government agency swarn to protect US citizen from unlawful exposure to stress.

But what is unlawful exposure to stress?  The law states that a person can be arrested for stress offenses when they are “found guilty of causing stress in a way that is harmful, anxiety-producing, excessive, unnecessary or easily preventable.”

“My goal is to end sleepless nights,” says Michelle Obama at the DWE’s Headquarters ribbon cutting ceremony.  “If we reach a national state of peace, our job is done.  After the age of terror, it is time for an era of peace and tranquility.  The American people deserve a more relaxed lifestyle that allows a meaningful ‘pursuit of happiness.'”

Establishing the DWE is seen as a strong indication that President Obama will legalize marijuana before the end of his term which should make the case load lighter for the Department of Wellness Enforcement.

What if…

The narrator accompanies DWE Officer Daniel McGerk as he investigates an anonymous tip about some stress offending chairs in a classroom in a prestigious university.  The officer knocks on doors in order to hunt down the person responsible for the purchase of the chairs which cause anxiety, frustration which could have been easily avoided.

Then, Officer McGerk’s stress meter beeps loudly and rapidly as he passes by a classroom.  Now the everyone wears a biofeedback sensing circuit, it is possible to detect stress coming from the body allowing individuals to monitor their own stress and the stress of groups can be calculated with devices.  He goes in to investigate the source of the stress which he imagines will be a textbook case of stress offense by a university professor.  His assumptions are turned unside down when the source of the extreme stress originates from one single student who is the victim of multiple stress offenders.  “We’re gotta get her out of here and get her some help.”


3. Where is the critical eye looking? What are you being critical of that’s happening now?

I wanted to think about possible future applications of wearable circuits that monitor the body’s homeostasis and report it back to the wearer.  Already, handheld devices are used in biofeedback therapy to sense the body’s stress response.  This lead me to thinking more about making the invisible effects of stress visible.

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Here is another example of making stress visible — my own chiropractic exam.  Notice the red cone coming out of the left side of my neck.  This indicates a cervical vertebre that is so out of align is “off the charts.”  And my misalignment is not the result of any accident or incident.  It’s from good ol’ American stress.   Clearly I am stressed and may benefit from a government program that mandates stress reduction and goes after those who stress us out.


I am also being critical of the health crisis in the US which involves obesity, sedentary and hectic lifestyles.  It is strange to me that health crisis is considered an epidemic requiring government involvement when the predicament could be avoided if people made better choices for themselves.

4. How are design factioning?

Michelle Obama’s campaign to promote healthy choices in kids

Look how fast the US got fat (The Atlantic)

Wearable circuits made by MC10

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Also, when something is determined to be a threat to the American way of life, the government response is to form a department to deal with it (see Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Homeland Security).


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