Once again a huge Thank You to everyone to responded to last week’s post! As before, i’ll be featuring some of the comments I received after i’ve provided Scenario C which will be the third and final scenario.
Last week I asked whether you would trust a message from your future self. Many of you were very trusting, though I think I would be quite wary of anything a future me had to say. While I hope he would think in a similar way to me and have similar values I just can’t know how things might have changed for him in the future, and of course the further in the future he is the more likely it would be that he has changed. Still, if he asked me to do something relatively small like taking someone’s car park in order to save the world I probably wouldn’t think twice about it. As soon as harming other people enters the picture, however, I don’t think a simple brief conversation could convince me to do that for any reason.
Meeting past me would allow me to ask questions and come to a firm decision on whether I support him or not. If I agreed with what he wanted I would help him, and if I didn’t I would either leave him alone or stop him, even injuring him if it were necessary.
Scenario C, being the last scenario, does something a little different. Let me know if you need any clarification on anything.
You gasp as you jerk awake, sitting bolt upright in bed. But since when was your bed this…wet? Water falls from the ceiling, or is it the sky?
“Ugh…not again…” Is all you can think as your sleepy brain finally kicks into gear. You’re outside and it’s raining, with mud running down your back from where you were lying in the grass. Looking around, peering through the darkness, you realize you’re not too far from your home and begin to trudge toward the warm bed waiting for you there. You’re used to this, though, as it’s been happening ever since you were very young. As you approach the house, a voice rings out from one of the front windows.
“Hey! Hold on! Don’t get any closer!” Your Dad screams, pointing his trusty revolver at you. “Which one are you now?!”
Sighing, but without missing a beat, you reply that it’s you, of course.
“Oh, thank goodness.” Replies your Father, the relief evident on his face. “One moment though. How can I be sure you’re telling the truth?”
By now you’ve become completely soaked. Shivering out in the rain, you relay the code you’ve been assigned, slightly annoyed that he can’t tell by now.
You have a condition known as Dissociative Identity Disorder. For the purposes of this scenario this means that you have multiple completely separate personalities/individuals residing in the same body. You are the dominant personality, spending most of the time in control. Note: The other personalities can be of either gender. This is not affected by whether you are male or female.
How do you feel about this? This is a situation in which your body also belongs to another individual. As the dominant personality, do you have greater rights than they do? Exactly how important are these extra personalities to you, assuming for the moment that they are nice people? If it helps, assume that this is a new development you have only just discovered.
As your Father opens the door you can immediately see why he was on guard. The entranceway behind him is splattered with blood and notches have been carved out of the wall. Unfortunately, this has happened some many times now that you are not surprised.
“Mum’s down at the hospital. Your brother took her.” Your Dad relays, wiping his face with his hand. “Look, we need to have a talk about this. We wanted you to have as normal a life as possible but we can’t just keep sweeping his actions under the rug. It’s time to get you some help; we just don’t feel safe anymore.”
You’ve heard enough. Mumbling a noncommittal reply, you make your way to your room. As expected, the door has been torn off its hinges, with all five locks smashed to pieces. You find yourself growing even more terrified of what he might do next.
You’ve prepared for this day, though. It was surprisingly easy to buy cyanide capsules on the internet and you’ve had them lying in the bottom of your drawer for a while now. It would only take one pill.
You’ve been lucky that he hasn’t harmed anyone outside your family yet or you would have been imprisoned for sure, but how long will that last? Your family is at the breaking point. Their love for their son and brother have kept them silent so far, but they’ve been dangerously injured multiple times now and this other you doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Do you take the pills and save your family the trouble of your existence?
WHAM!! As you sit there, stupefied, staring at the space that had been occupied by the pills until just a moment ago, your Father pulls back the hand he’s just slapped you with.
“Don’t be stupid!” He yells, his face red with anger. “You know we’d never want you to resort to that!”
He looks down and wipes his eye. You think he looks ten years older than normal.
“There’s…there’s another way.”
Holding up another bottle of pills, he hesitates for a moment before placing them on the table next to your bed. He leaves without another word. You examine the pills. It appears that they can suppress your violent personality permanently, but as with all good things they come with a cost. Every single other individual residing within you would also be erased completely and forever. At first the answer seems obvious: take the pills and live a normal life. Before you fully make up your mind, however, the book lying on your desk catches your eye.
It’s your diary. The one way you can communicate with the people you share this body with. He never wrote in it, of course. Flipping through its pages, you pore over its contents. Sometimes you smile at what you read and sometimes it makes your chest tighten. These are people you’ve spent your life communicating with.
Do you take the pills? You would have your body all to yourself and never have to worry about suddenly becoming another person. You would never harm anyone without knowing it ever again. However, you would effectively end the lives of the other people you share your body with. Is the benefit worth the cost? Would the number of personalities make a difference? Would you hesitate if you had never communicated with them; if the diary didn’t exist?
What if the other personalities weren’t violent and you had been given these pills as a normal treatment for DID?
And now for last week’s comments! Once again, some have been taken from the Fuwaforums and any editing I have done is only to make things work for this post, I have not altered the opinions in any way.
If I would be sure that that person is really me from the future, then I would trust that person, because one person I can have absolute trust in is myself. And if he is me from the future then I can be even more sure about trusting him as endangering me would be endangering himself, changing me would be changing himself.
It wouldn’t make a big difference to me of how far in the future he is.
Even if I might disagree with it now I would still do what was asked of me. As I know myself so I know that I would think everything true and make the best possible choice for myself. I would do it no matter what X and Y were, as like I already said I would have absolute trust in that other me.
If I was able to meet the future me I would try to get more answers, other than that nothing would change.
Even if X (thing that was at stake) was never revealed to me it wouldn’t matter much to me as knowing that that other person is really me from the future would be enough to know that that it is something that I want, something that will benefit me personally by being changed or staying the same. Whatever Y (thing that I need to do) would be, I would do it. The answer would always be easy for me no matter what, because of the fact that I have absolute trust in myself.
I think I would trust the me from the future. But if I had asked myself to do something that was outside my moral boundaries e.g. hurt someone I would need clear reasons to do so. If it was merely time-consuming I think I’d do the task, if it was important. You can always take years off study. 😛
With the second part, I don’t think the meeting them in the flesh thing would matter if they’d convinced me through the computer last time. I would help them if I agreed. If I disagreed then that would be pretty tough probably because it would mean that you and your future self had different moral boundaries and I guess I’d wonder why they changed.
This is quite a tricky scenario you have created. To me, it pretty much depends on what X and Y is. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been too happy about changing my entire life or something. But whether it’s for a stranger or the world, I would try to help as far as reasonably possible. I should probably trust myself anyway. Either way, wouldn’t the future me know my answer already? I don’t think I’d end someone’s life though. It seems too surreal.
Moreover (and a little off topic), I think it’s easy for us to say what we would have done in such situations, but I doubt we would honestly go through with that if we ever ended up in them for real. We may think we know ourselves but I find that this is often not so true after all.
All I know is that I would’ve thought it over, tried my best to do what I think is right according to my own morals, and helped if I could. I mean, it’s myself asking me to do something, and they came all the way from the future to ask me this favour. Must be important, right?
I think if Y is something very illegal involving drugs or stealing something valuable or killing someone, I would not do it. If Y involves changing my direction in education or moving to another country I would also try to not have to do that.
I guess there’s no telling what the future me will end up like but I would also try to assess their credibility before accepting their request. For all I know they might be a drug addict, or extremely successful, I don’t know. There are too many variables here
Putting aside the ‘you can’t know til you’re in the situation’ problem which I honestly don’t care about unless you’re gonna talk about how easy it would be to kill someone, this scenario seems really close to quite a few sci-fi stories/thrillers. My own perception of ‘how the situation would go’ is messing with how I would normally answer. In movies, they listen or they’re pretty much dead. Sometimes the warning happens anyway. It’s fate! Destiny! Etc, etc, although the protag always tries and has heart-thumping adventures along the way! But a lot of the time the protagonist’s actions had a positive effect on the future. I can’t say that doesn’t cloud my won opinion a little bit, with an instant “hells yes I believe it’s me!” And anticipating adventure that will (hopefully) only end up in a little hardship for me and a happily ever after.
Putting that aside (because my first reaction was certainly the above…), I would probably follow the instructions if they’re not too intrusive in my life, but after that it’s really a weighing of how much I fear the future and how much I want my present (I’m a pragmatic coward, after all…) honestly I might end up being terrified but constantly telling myself that the future already changed with said warning, making small adjustments to my life and moving forward. In terms of how eager I’d be to do the actions based on who X affects, the order would probably be Just Me (ex. my health, how much danger my life is in) > Stranger I’d Never Met (I have to say that if my future self is asking me to do something to affect a stranger, they must be close to me in the future) = Family > Friends >> My Personal Life > The World (it’s hard to feel as inspired by ‘the world’ as one single person after all).
At this point I’ll answer another question, I guess, and say that it DOES make a difference how far in the future they came from. If they were from closer to now, I’d be more apt to act. If someone a long way down the line wanted me to make a big change, honestly there’s no telling whether the effects of the change will do anything. I could’ve moved to Ottawa a few years back or stayed in my hometown. I sometimes think about how life would be if I moved to Ottawa, but I don’t blame my problems on the fact I didn’t move there! It’s kind of neat to bring your life down to a few such decision points, but normally one doesn’t decide all their problems come from a choice they made several years back (with the caveat that I am not talking Kane’s theory of the Self-Forming Action or any such theory but rather the gut reaction of whether you’re blaming yourself based on a single decision in the past or not). I’d be trading problems for different problems, in effect (for example trading the harsh competitive environment I’d get with a business degree vs the anxiety I’d have over jobs with an arts degree and that I’m horrible at my job vs doing a subject I just don’t meld with like science). While yes, the problems the me in the computer screen is having seem pretty bad, I’d be hesitant to act based on the idea that this me might face just as many problems.
Once I actually met the future me, I’d probably become even more passive. They can do what they want, especially since it sounds like it doesn’t involve ‘me’ to any stretch. I think I’d still be skeptical about how much effect that one action will have, but if they’re not constantly in my ear telling me what to do (in which case, yes, I’d stop them immediately, it’s a little too much), I wouldn’t get in their way if they can perform it themselves.
[After I pointed out that future her may have changed]
Oh, that’s an interesting point. Even more reason to side eye the you from the future. On the other hand, honestly if I had the opportunity to help the me in the past, I’d probably take it. I can’t imagine just subjecting them to things that weren’t in their best interests. While I can’t say the me several years from now is the same, I do think the core of our personalities would stay the same. Hopefully. So it’ll probably in my mind be more of a case of future incompetence (thinking that one action changes everything) than maliciousness on my part…
Hm… I see meeting the future me as someone saying “Look, I’m just as competent as you at this job, maybe even more so, and I’m going to just do it myself”. Okay, cool. I won’t have to do anything, then. Getting my questions answered would be a bonus but if I agree I can’t see myself helping considering how little I was willing to change my life. If I don’t agree, I can’t see myself making a huge deal out of it. Maybe an argument. If the action they’re going to take is morally repulsive to me for little payoff, I suppose I’d start actively interfering. However stopping me in the same way i find repulsive (like killing) is certainly a no-go. Just be more behind-the-scenes, I guess. Like hiring a bodyguard for someone they want to kill, somehow hyping up security when they want to steal. I suppose the prior response was written with the assumption that I’d agree w/future me.
And that’s it! This week is your last chance to have your comment included, though you won’t have any trouble with that if I get as few comments as I didn’t last week 😉