As per usual, I jumped onto the Hammersmith & City line after work on my daily commute home. I’ve been leaving work subsequently later each evening ever since I’ve moved up the corporate ladder and find myself increasingly squashed during the rush hour (naturally). To no one’s surprise, there were 0 seats available. As I stood there, trying to see if I could wiggle an arm around someone’s belly to hold onto something/the yellow pole (last time I held onto one of these poles someone asked me if I was a pole dancer…-_-). Gratefully, no one questioned my weird movements and everyone continued to stare into an empty space in front of them. I’m no better; I tend to stuff my headphones in, turn up some depressing music and stare at the floor, wondering about the day I will finally be able to eat something for lunch and dinner which doesn’t involve some form of pasta or potato. I was bored of staring at the floor, so I started looking at the people around me. This got me wondering… what were they all thinking? Dinner? Career prospects? Money troubles? Murder? It’s hard to read a sea of endless unemotional faces avoiding eye contact on the tube.
This is when I decided it would be super useful and powerful if I could read people’s minds… at will. It’s important that it’s at will; otherwise being able to hear everyone’s thoughts all the time would probably squash my sanity. I have enough thoughts of my own to deal with. Mind reading, as my friend pointed out, would enable me to get anything I wanted, through plain good ol’ manipulation (you’re probably all thinking about the boy/girl you fancy/or otherwise here 😉 ). It’s better than any love potion Severus Snape could concoct that’s for sure. Another cool superpower would be invisibility i.e. ultimate freedom – so many ways to abuse this I won’t even bother going into detail! The idea of having a superpower isn’t something new – we see it all around us, from Marvel comics to generations of TV shows (Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Charmed from my childhood to Merlin and Game of Thrones more recently). This idea of a superhuman ability, whether escapism or a realisation of wanting something beyond our mere mortal abilities generated some interesting responses when I posed the question ‘If you had a superpower, what would it be and why?’ to my friends.
Their answers ranged from omnipotence (erm…) to time travel to flying and healing. I clarified here with my friend that omnipotence isn’t a superpower… it’s just something that he wants lol. The ability to stop time or transport like Hiro Nakamura from Heroes came up (similar to that of Piper in Charmed). My mate then went on to stipulate exactly why this is by far the greatest superpower (I’m not sure I agree…): “a) you could get super rich which would give you mortal omnipotence, b) assuming you could control the ageing process as well with your powers you could live forever (by casting a bubble of slow moving time around yourself apparently) [my response to this was ‘Jezuz!’], c) you could stop all bad things from happening, d) you could instantaneously bring all the benefits of the future to the present – basically you could take the human race so far forward in one fell swoop and retain control over this new world with your powers for as long as you need before devolving power to some appropriate democratic entity [it’s nice that he’s decided to think about democracy here after all that omnipotence garb]; you could use your power to stop all conflicts.” Frankly, I think he is far too optimistic; with all that power I think one would descend into greediness and utter tyranny. But then again, I suppose this depends on your view of human nature; I guess I reside firmly under the Hobbesian umbrella of thought.
The idea of flying appealed to several of my friends – which came as a surprise to me since we have planes. Apparently it would be convenient for travel (now I think about it most of my friends from sciency/functional backgrounds gave this answer…). Flying unaided, if caught, would probably lead to being incarcerated with lots of scientists probing at you like a bird in a cage so I would probably avoid this one. A friend of mine studying medicine said selflessly that he would like the ability to heal… but then he also said he would like the ability to think of something or someone and death would come to them instantly -_- (think he was having a bad day). A bit like Death Note, but a lot more stupid e.g. imagine if you thought about someone you fancied and next thing you knew they were face down on the floor? He quickly retracted his mind on this one.
So, if you had a superpower, what would it be and why?