Why did thoughts about parallel universes keep me up the other night? I am not usually one for entertaining contemplations of the Sci-Fi nature. Not that I have anything against it. I guess my brain just doesn’t really engage much content about aliens and cyborgs and worlds controlled by robots and so on. Looking at the world we live, mostly controlled by computers, maybe I should? I don’t know. But the other night all I could think about was parallel universes.
I don’t even know if I really know what a parallel universe is. I even had to Google it. And even after that, in my Sci-Fi ignorance, I still don’t know if I have the right idea of what a parallel universe is. But in the context of my thoughts the other night, in my own definition, a parallel universe consisted of another world, just like ours, but 100 years in the past.
When I say, “just like ours”, I mean our literal world exactly; our ancestors, our history, our literal world one hundred years ago. But we, in this world we live, have the ability to just watch and observe the other world. Ok, so it’s really not a parallel universe at all! It’s merely “history”. But let’s just say we had the capacity to observe history, as it was happening, which I guess would make it more of a parallel universe than just history. Anyways, I don’t want to keep getting hung up on mere terminology.
The other night I started thinking about what our reactions would be to that world. How would we react to certain “norms” of society that have changed so drastically in the past hundred years? What would we think is great? What would we think is preposterous? What would we think is “right”? What would we think is “wrong”? What would we see, observe, and think?
The lack of technology making things more difficult, or more simple. The way women and children are treated. The way kids are punished. The way criminals are punished. The way people of different races are treated, or mistreated. The way science, psychology and health are looked upon. The positive and negative effects of information not being as available and accessible to all.
I am sure we would look at this “backwards” world and scoff at many things. But I also wonder how many people would look at it, longing for those things to return. And I am not purely talking about the positive things, like a simpler way of life. I am also talking about the negative things, like how whole groups of people were allowed to treat entire other groups of people so terribly, and get away with it, and actually benefit from it!
Then I started thinking about another parallel universe; a world that is 100 years ahead of ours. I began to wonder, when they observed our world, what did they look at, judge, long for, scoff at, think was totally ridiculous, when they watched us. What aspects of life, aspects that are totally “normal” to us, do the members of the parallel universe of the future look at and think are totally ludicrous and bizarre?
I have ideas of certain things that might stand out but I would not be so presumptuous to put thoughts and words into the mouths of these citizens of the future. But I do think it could be an important exercise; to look back 100 years and see how things were, and look now to see how things are and to think about how these “norms” of today might be seen 100 years down the line. What can we learn from these parallel universes of the past and future? Maybe we should spend some time and effort to really engage this thought. Or maybe I just need to stick to not thinking about aliens and cyborgs and parallel universes!