I do like the occasional idle flight of fancy (to be fair, you had me at ‘idle’) and today’s Daily Prompt sent me off on one, since it involves two subjects close to my heart: technology and travel. I’ve written about both before but – as far as I can recall – never the two together.
Which is odd, in a way, because my feelings towards both are quite similar, insofar as in each case I like the benefits they bring and the experiences they offer, but I can’t be doing with a lot of the processes involved. Anyway, here’s the Prompt:
“Your local electronics store has just started selling time machines, anywhere doors, and invisibility helmets. You can only afford one. Which of these do you buy, and why?”
Choosing between the three options on offer is a pretty straightforward process of elimination:
- An invisibility helmet (I’m assuming here that they are referring to something that you wear on your head rather than in your boxers) strikes me as more than a little creepy. Of course, it’s possible to envisage circumstances where such a thing might come in handy, but none that aren’t nefarious in some way. Or if not nefarious then just plain creepy. I have no desire to rob a bank, nor to instal myself in the changing rooms at Victoria’s Secret (no, honestly) and, insofar as I hate the idea of somebody eavesdropping on me, the Categorical Imperative would prevent me from doing likewise. I mean, what if they were talking about me and saying what they really think?
- In much the same way, the idea of being able to dot up and down Time’s Arrow at will may be tempting, but it’s probably best avoided. Especially going forward in time. What possible good could come of knowing what’s going to happen before it does? That’s not to say I’d necessarily turn down a chance to know next week’s Lottery numbers but, realistically, you’d spend the rest of your life either being bored out of your skull – ‘going there, going to do that’ – or ticking off the hours and days to something really unpleasant that’s fated to happen. Admittedly, there are a few past experiences that I’d really rather like to relive, but they are a very long way from being any of your damn’ business, quite frankly.
So ‘anywhere doors’ it is then – and not only by default. This is something that would be extremely useful on a personal level. Going away on holiday or ‘popping over’ to visit friends or relatives would no longer be a logistical exercise of a complexity akin to getting the tanks on to Utah Beach under enemy fire. And a bloody sight cheaper, too.
So there’s undeniably a very strong selfish aspect to opting for being able to get from A to B instantaneously, but there would also be much wider – and much greater – benefits. For sure, mankind’s carbon footprint would shrink dramatically, with all the attendant environmental benefits. And if saving the planet isn’t enough to convince you, just consider some of the things that the weary traveller would no longer have to endure:
- Signalling problems at Doncaster
- ‘Quiet coaches’ full of loud-mouther dickheads with their feet up on the seats
- Twenty miles of inside lane coned off, with not a high-vis jacket in sight
- Motorway service station catering (with the honourable exception of Greggs’ cheese and onion pasties)
- Shuffling through security scanners in your stockinged feet
- Cabin crew trying to sell you scratch cards (yes you, Ryanair)
In fact, I can see only one possible downside to the advent of ‘anywhere doors’ and even that’s conditional on what form the underlying technology took. If it was really no more than opening a door and stepping through to wherever you wanted to be, all well and good. However, what if was more akin to a ‘beam me up Scotty’ device and a stray bluebottle got in with you? You might come out at the other end and find that your hat’s too small.
Although your eyesight will have improved dramatically.