If you could time travel to any year, which one would you visit?
I’ll admit it, I’m a huge fan of Doctor Who. What Whovian hasn’t dreamed of the TARDIS appearing and the Doctor grabbing your hand and telling you, “Run!”? All of time and space within your grasp! You can go anywhere, meet anyone, witness anything! Some of my favorite episodes of Doctor Who are when they visit the past and meet historical figures. Vincent Van Gogh, Winston Churchill, Shakespeare, Madame de Pompadour, and so, so many more!
As fun as traveling with the Doctor would be, the Doctor is fictional. The “historical figures” he visits may have the names of real people from real places, but ultimately, within the confines of the show, they are fictional too. The fictional Doctor travels to fictional places and meets fictional people.
Real life is different.
Real history is full of disease. Real history is full of injustice. Real history is full of… yuck.
I’m not saying the present is perfect. Disease is still a huge problem in a lot of places, injustice still occurs, and life can still generally be yuck.
Vaccines are amazing. So many thousands and thousands of people are alive purely because of vaccines. Beyond vaccines, modern medicine is truly amazing. Sicknesses/ailments we view as “simple” or don’t worry about because we have over-the-counter, cheap medicine for would have been a death sentence in the past. I like not dying of preventable/treatable diseases.
Many people still find themselves suffering from injustice, but that percentage of people has gone down drastically. And for many people, the injustice they face is not as great as the injustices faced in the past. People don’t own people anymore. Women can own property and vote and get jobs (even if they still aren’t paid the same as men) and wear blue jeans. Gay people don’t have to hide who they are.
I don’t want to travel to a time period where I am going to be shamed for wearing shorts and a t-shirt or for not having long hair. I don’t want to travel to a time where I don’t have electricity or antibiotics or indoor plumbing or air conditioning or any of the other wonderous things I take for granted in my daily life. There is no other time in human history I would rather be than right here in 2016.
“Well, what about the future?” you ask.
No. Just no.
I enjoy seeing how the creators of Doctor Who and other sci-fi shows/movies envision the future, I really do. I especially enjoy watching older movies about the future where “the future” is now or has already happened (like Back to the Future II) so I can laugh at how wrong everything is.
But once again, real life is different. Knowing anything that is to happen in the future seems like an incredible burden. No matter what you learn about the future, you can’t tell anyone – they’d never believe you. Beyond that, though, imagine if you knew that in 17 years World War III was going to break out and 30% of the earth’s population was going to die horrendous deaths during it. And there is nothing you can do to prevent it. I do believe I would go insane with knowledge like that.
I don’t believe the future is meant to be known. It’s supposed to be a mystery, supposed to remain hidden until its appointed unveiling. As nice as it would be to know the next mega lotto powerball super jackpot numbers (who couldn’t use some extra flow?), knowing anything at all about the future seems a much larger curse than blessing.
So when would I time travel to? Right now. I like being right now.