What if we were wired differently and every significant interaction we have with other people throughout the course of the day were relived at night, in our dreams, from their point-of-view?
Not just a new camera angle, but with their thoughts and emotions vivid and visceral. And immutable. You couldn’t change the way the events unfolded nor feel any differently than they did. It would be like jacking in to a SQUID from Strange Days, only you didn’t get to pick nor to choose — and you had to do it every day, for each person with whom you interacted.
What would that be like?
Would it reduce impolite behaviour? Would it intensify romance? Would it prevent cruelty or would it heighten the sadistic experience? What about warfare? What about politics? What about parking tickets? I suppose it would be something akin to the introductory falsehood-free world of The Invention of Lying, but it wouldn’t be about the inability to lie. It would be about the inability to get away with it.
Daze of the Week
On Monday, did you talk to the attractive co-worker you didn’t have the guts to ask out? Well, on Tuesday, they’re going to know how you felt. The thing is, you will know how she felt, too. Will Tuesday be uncomfortably awkward? Or will it be filled with a mutually enjoyable sexual tension?
On Wednesday, you got into a bar fight with some dude. In a tequila rage you clobbered the guy and he was kicked out of the bar, beaten and humiliated. On Thursday morning, you realize how that felt, blow for blow, to be beaten up because some jerk (you) cracked a joke about your recently deceased father. How does that feel, champ?
That covers the sex and violence (oh look, the author is male! Wait, is that stereotyping? I am so political-correctnessly confused) but what of everything else? Being in love might not even be tolerable or it could become the greatest drug in the world (isn’t it already?). Family time would be super-nurturing for some and excruciating for others. Oh, man, parenting a teenager would be brain-scrambling.
Business would have to be honest. As would politics. Crazy.
And could you even stand the thought of being a rock star and experiencing that overwhelming love of self the night after a concert? Wait, maybe we don’t need a hypothetical condition for that one.
100% Fact-filled Truthy Brainspill
I’ll tell ya one thing which probably wouldn’t change: writing. Writing is something which is clinically impersonal. Anything like this post (I dub thee ‘brainspill’) may reveal my innermost thoughts and feelings but I never have to be in the same room as my readers. And I never have to know what you think of it.
In some ways, writing (in all its forms, from blogging to standard publishing) is a coward’s game. I can lie about my thoughts and feelings until I am blue in the face (fingers?) (okay, enough with the parenthetical Olympics, already!) (OK) and never have to worry about anyone knowing. Even in that fictional world of retroactive empathy, I can be as disingenuous and antisocial as I please.
But I Would Never Lie to You
There is a literary device called the unreliable narrator. Short version: sometimes, in fiction, the person telling the story isn’t being totally honest or objective and it is up to the reader to discern the truth of the story. Well, as humans, we are all flawed and incapable of complete objectivity. Therefore, ipso facto, presto alakazam, all writers of both fiction and non-fiction are inherently unreliable narrators.
And on the internet, we all write. Some are of the OMGHI2U variety and others are woefully long-winded (ehem…) but we are all writers here. Thus, we are all unreliable narrators who never have to face their readers in the flesh. We never have to physically associate with each other and suffer the litmus of personal interaction.
Social media is somewhat, well, anti-social.
Seriously, Dude, What Does It Mean?
Hell if I know. I just woke up too early and I had a weird dream, and I just started writing without any clear destination. I went from something vaguely science fictionish and now I’m telling you that, on the internet, everyone is an author. And all authors are potentially liars and, on some level, cowards. This is not directed to anyone in particular.
Now, I’m-a publish it then pull up my blanket and try to get another hour of sleep.
At least, that’s what I’m writing anyway.