September 17, 2014

What if people became telepathic?

In one of my sci-fi novels (not yet released), I dabble in telepathy. It's a fascinating concept, especially when you reel it out and look at it closely.

In the movies, we see telepaths sending a thought to someone else. Is that "reading a person's mind"? If it is, I'm not impressed. We'll soon have our communication technology implanted, so we can always send a thought to someone. We call that a "phone call". So that kind of telepathy gets a meh from me.

But what would it mean if some technological miracle allowed people to truly share people's thoughts, to hear how they think and discover what they're thinking about? People would find this hugely threatening. Everyone has thoughts they're ashamed of. Everyone's done something they don't want others to know about. Total mental access? Most would find it abhorrent.

But what if telepathy was forced on everyone through technological advances -- all in the same instant? Yes, they'd initially be horrified at their mental exposure -- but in the long run, would people learn that everyone is basically the same no matter what they look like, what they wear or how many buildings and companies they own? Would it bring humanity together by brute telepathic force?

There might be an added bonus. The vicious people of the world might not be able to survive in such an environment. Once others could see into their dark hearts, they would be scorned by virtually everyone. They might even be pushed into becoming decent people by the force of opprobrium directed their way by the telepathic mob.

Does this sound familiar? (Think of the way social networking is driving the news today. Ray Rice, anyone? Adrian Peterson? Roger Goodell? Without social networking, their sins would remain hidden, or be brushed aside by the powers that be. Make no mistake about it: social networks are driving the American story right now.)

What will happen when telepathic social networks become the norm? I'll bet it's in the cards.

PS: Sorry to be absent from the blog but I'm recovering from hernia surgery. Hurts a lot, even with oxycodone. But if the surgery fixes the problem, I'm willing to put up with it. I'll be back soon.

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