Thank you to everyone who answered the questions in last week’s posts! There was a lot of variation in how people answered and i’ll feature a couple of those responses after i’ve given you Scenario B to ponder.
As for me, i’m not entirely sure whether I would sign straight away. Taking someone else’s life is not something I would do easily but losing my own for someone I don’t really know is another thing entirely. If I didn’t sign at that first junction, however, the sister’s appearance would convince me. While I may not know the person I was before the accident they have someone that loves them and needs them. Others suggested that it wouldn’t matter as long as they took care of her but that’s not an attitude I would be comfortable taking. If for some reason I was unable to sign at that point and things progressed to the third stage, I would then have lived long enough that my life would mean too much for me to give it up. At that point it would seem that i’ve managed to take care of my/his sister and would have made my own memories with her, rendering my previous misgivings moot. As I said though, things probably wouldn’t get that far anyway.
This second one involves the concept of time travel, so for the sake of discussion we’re going to ignore any paradoxes that may or may not feature.
December 20th, 2013. Having just returned home after a long day out, you sit down in front of the computer to check your emails. Before you’ve had a chance to read anything, though, your screen turns black. You curse as you begin to search for what’s gone wrong, before flinching back in surprise as your screen flares to life with a crackle of electricity. Squinting, you are surprised to see that your familiar desktop isn’t what’s on display. What’s even more surprising however, is that a strangely familiar-looking figure features centre-screen. And what’s more, your distinctly 2D monitor has begun to display brilliant 3D images. The figure in front of your screen speaks.
“Listen, I know you must be surprised right now, but we haven’t got much time.”
The figure goes on to explain that they are you from the future. Their comprehensive knowledge of every embarrassing moment you’ve ever experienced convinces you.
“There’s something I need you to do for me.” They continue. “X is at stake. You’re the only one that can Y and fix things. I’ve taken too long – it’s in your hands now.”
Sparks fly from your monitor as the figure winks out of existence, smoke soon following. You weren’t able to ask any of the questions you wanted to, though you’re sure that what just happened is real.
Do you trust this person, this you from the future? Would exactly how far in the future they were from make a difference to this?
If you did trust them, would you comply with what they wanted?
If X affected your personal life? A stranger you hadn’t met yet? Your friends and/or family? The world?
If Y was simple but time-consuming? If it required you to stop working/studying to devote your full attention to it? If it required you to harm another person or group of people? If it required you to harm yourself?
While the other you was in a hurry, you still have time to think about all of this and have continued with your normal life. In the middle of the day as you walk down the street, pondering this new development, you hear someone calling your name. Looking up, you notice someone waving at you from a nearby café. As you approach you realise it’s a distinctly older version of the person that contacted you the other day. After the initial amazement of really meeting oneself wears off, the future you explains that, many years after contacting you the first time, they managed to develop real time travel, and so here they are. They realise that what they asked you to do may have been hard to accept, so they’re here to complete the job personally. They thought it was only fair that they warn you, though they also stress that they will not tolerate you getting in their way.
Thinking back to what future you requested, does meeting yourself in the flesh change how you feel about it?
If you agree with what must be done, do you help them?
If you disagree, do you stop them, even if it means ending their life?
And now for answers from last week! So this post doesn’t become too long, I have randomly chosen a selection of responses from my blog and the Fuwanovel forums. Any editing I have done is only to make things work for this post, I have not altered the opinions in any way.
1. I’d sign, no question. I don’t know why someone wouldn’t otherwise, barring any skepitcism over the situation. Identity is very important. It helps us interpret the world and colors how we respond to things. It’s where we start when we look to create meaning in the things around us. Memories are a pretty big part of identity.
2. It’d be further motivation to sign the consent form. However, even if you didn’t undergo the procedure I wouldn’t say she’s lost you. You wouldn’t cease to exist to her, it would be weird to think you’d just disappear from her life or she from yours.
3. I might have lost the plot a bit. I think I understand what you’re going for with the questions, but I don’t get why I’d hesitate in the first place to regainour memories. If you woke up a blank slate, you really wouldn’t have anything to lose by undergoing the procedure. You have no memories or sense of identity to lose by regaining your old ones. I wouldn’t think it’d feel like you’re borrowing a life, but rather simply getting back what was yours in the first place. So, going back to the very first part of the prompt, it again seems like a no-brainer to sign. Individuals aren’t individuals solely because of their memories. If that was that was the case, you might say we’re a new person every second or that the things we forget are killing us. I don’t think in the scenario you proposed that I’d think of it as killing my old/new self or creating an entirely new 3rd person.
1. Considering my own personality and this scenario, I would not sign it. The reason, simply because my understanding of it would be that I would cease existing, death, nothingness, these are things humans fear naturally, consciously or subconsciously, I could not consciously erase myself from existence, even aknowledging my other sellf could have an amazing life with an amazing family and friends, I would not be part of it, I would kill myself for strangers, people I don’t know who, if I don’t sign, might actually get to know and get used to it, they can share memories with me and make new memories with me and I can grow out of the amnesia state without having to kill myself. The other existence I previously had is no longer here, they are dead, the dead don’t rise from their grave and this is a fact, therefore in my opinion it is only natural that I don’t sign it and sacrifice my existence for something that means nothing to me at the time. I’d prefer that nothing to grow into something and lead a happy life with time rather than throw it all away.
2. Using the previous argument, as a follow up, no it wouldn’t feel heavy. There’s no reason for it to feel heavy as that girl can get to know me, to them I’m still the previous being and they aknowledge me as so and I’m sure with time I would aknowledge them as something important as well. As far as her losing her remaining family member I have no reason to feel guilty, I was granted a life and in this life I do not know her so internally it does not affect me in any way, shape or form. So no the contract would not weight down on my consciousness.
3. It’s been a year. My existence and all the people around me became one, I’m already happy with them and I can aknowledge myself as being part of their family. There’s no reason to sign it simply for the fact I’ve already accepted myself, I am human, I have a consciousness, I think therefore I am, I finally came to terms with everything. If nothing is going wrong for me why should I risk getting a bunch of memories from years, maybe decades ago that most likely will only bring grief and could potentially harm my life? There is nothing wrong now, signing the contract is what could make something go wrong and for me is human nature to play it safe. Selfish or not it still results in things staying as they always have for the past year which for me are now normal and how they should be. And as I feel like that I would not sign the contract. It is not the best of both worlds, It’s me putting my ordinary life at stake still, 2 existences being blended together like water and oil, it can’t just work out as fine, that’s why it still wouldn’t weight down on me and why I still would not sign it.
1. At this stage I wouldn’t sign I don’t think. “It’s my life, dun dun dun dun!” as the band No Doubt would say.
2. Hmmmm would be feeling a bit of guilt at this stage. To be honest if it was a young child with only “me” to take care of them I’d probably sign the form. I wouldn’t remember anyway so it would be all good.
3. I definitely don’t think it’s the “best of both worlds”. Our memories basically make us who we are – cramming two people’s memories into one person would make it two personalities in one body in my opinion. So like dissociative identity disorder, a bit. So I wouldn’t take the combo pill. Might take the OG original gangster pill if there was a compelling enough reason for me to give up my life.
I would choose to regain my previous memories. Even though the “out of sight, out of mind” philosophy might seem appealing, you are responsible for whatever you did previously and owe it to the people you’ve met to not simply “disappear.” I realize this sounds sort of idealistic, but it’s honestly the path I would choose to take. On the more selfish side of things, past choices, experiences, and knowledge are parts of developing as a person, and denying yourself those memories would only stunt your growth as a person.
The idea of this other “me” disappearing might seem scary at first, but it really isn’t another person at all. It’s closer to a split personality than another person entirely. Although, assuming such a situation did occur, there’s no telling how my sense of morality and responsibility would or wouldn’t change as a result of this separate “me” forming.
[Taken from second response as it was a more direct answer to the question]
Hearing your take on the question though I can say that yes I would sign. I would do it out of a more selfish desire though. I would do it because I want to know what this other person was. I wouldn’t need a better motivation than that. I don’t think that is necessarily the right answer for everyone and I certainly don’t mind fictional characters who pick differently, it’s mine.
To put it anther way, if you could give me the memories of someone else right now and add them to mine I would probably take you up on that just to satisfy my curiosity. Maybe that someone else has a younger sister and she misses her brother, but there is no way for him to recover. With that in mind, lets say I’m the only one who could take on those memories because of (insert fictional medical reason here.) Would I knowingly take on the burden of experience that belongs to someone else knowing that their baggage would come with it? I’ll have you know that I do pause before answering… I think I would say yes.(in before this is the plot of an incest light novel… actually, I would read that… >_>)
Oddly, for such an ambiguous situation, my choices seem clear. Let’s first consider the outcomes of both choices.
If you choose to sign the form and regain your former memories before the blow to your head, you will gain your former “self”. What’s more, your cute little imouto won’t be alone and you need not “act” to be someone else.
But then, if you choose not to sign your form – it’s more about deconstructing and reconstructing your very self. After the blow to your head, you lose your name, personality and identity of the previous “self”. So if you choose not to sign it, you will have to reconstruct your own identity. In the meantime, you also have to lie to everyone else with your reconstructed identity.
Seeing the outcomes, I can’t see any merits in not choosing to sign it, you lose more than you gain it. Besides that, you are pretty much a newborn after the accident, what with the lack of identity, knowledge and experience, so I can’t see anything to lose by losing this “second” identity.
The third choice seems like even more of an obvious, miraculous choice and the best of both worlds, lol.
But then again, I’m totally speaking from a third person here. Perhaps I may feel and act differently if I actually experienced the phenomenon, which is unlikely.. anyway.
And that’s all for this week! Don’t worry if your comment didn’t make the blog this time around as i’ll be making an effort to include responses from different people in the next post (if anyone else replies, that is =P).