If you ever want a conversation starter, ask your friends to consider the logistics of the ghost economy. Why, you say? Well, friend, consider:

  • ghosts generally cannot interact with the corporeal world
  • ghosts generally wear clothes and carry the items they died with
  • therefore, the only source of goods in the ghost world is whatever people died with

Some potential implications:

  • what is the probability that ghost society could build, say, a house? how many ghosts on average would this require? what new innovations of ghost engineering allow them to refit ballpoint pens and spare change into all manner of luxury items?
  • if ghosts can scare or lure people to their deaths, they would have a strong incentive to do so while the person is carrying something they want. holding a slice of cheesecake? you’re a target. wearing a nice pair of shoes? target. carrying an ipod with decent musical taste? there are at least 50 ghosts plotting against you right now.
  • ghost science has access to a wealth of observational data not available to the living (e.g. they can just walk into the heart of a volcano), but if they want, say, a microscope, they’re probably shit outta luck. social science is not exempt— sure, you can interview someone who actually lived in ancient mesopotamia, but you’ll have to hoard paper to even write it down, much less publish. ghost scientists are frustrated.
  • without physical needs, the entirety of ghost society runs on a boredom economy. houses where the living inhabitants regularly watch tv with the speakers on are a key commodity. if you die with a deck of cards or a musical instrument, you are a very valuable person.
  • tips for the living: always carry your favorite items in your pocket, and at all costs avoid dying naked.

consider taoism, which takes all this into account:

family members can make/buy paper clothing, furniture, houses (even TVs and other electronics!), and burn it to provide their deceased relatives with furnishing and wealth for the afterlife

certain days of the year (e.g. qingmingjie) are days where your ancestors come back to ‘visit’ and you leave out incense & their favorite foods for them.

you also fold & burn paper ‘money’ (which can be similar in appearance to USD or they can be paper covered in very thin gold or silver foil folded into ingots)

hungry & wandering ghosts with no family are really fucking sad and prone to bringing bad luck, so lots of families also fold & burn paper for the wandering ghosts

the chinese have a pretty good relationship with our ghosts, is what i’m sayin