I bid you welcome. Consider with me, if you please, the following hypothetical scenario.
Let us imagine, and it likely isn’t much of a stretch, that you have a deep dark secret. It could be any of a multitude of things. A vice. A lie. A recurring unsavory activity or even a one time event like a murder or killing a pet by accidentally running it over with a lawn mower. You may pick for yourself. Whatever it is, it is very personal and if another human ever learned of it you’d be humiliated and ashamed. Perhaps you’ve hidden it so well from others that you’ve forgotten it yourself or it lurks in a cobwebbed corner of your psyche that you rarely visit.
Now we imagine that, wonder of wonders, time travel has been perfected and one day you are visited by future you. You know what future you knows and you know that he/she (depending) knows that you know that he/she (depending) knows. The question I put forth is this; does this constitute an awkward moment? An independent poll shows that one out of one of my co-workers feels it wouldn’t be awkward at all.
I think I disagree. Future me is a separate entity. He knows more than I know and has had more life experience. Perhaps he has moved on from whatever it is that shames me. I already judge myself rather harshly. How much more would an older and wiser me judge the current me? Would I lecture myself? Perhaps this is pointless because future me, assuming he’s moved on, knows that I will move on, the knowledge of which renders a lecture quite moot. Maybe he thinks he can help me move past it sooner than he did so he lectures me anyway. Or maybe this visit from the future is the very first in my timeline and therefore future me doesn’t yet know that the lecture is moot.
How would I react to a lecture from myself? Would it be like wrestling with something inside my own head with the only difference being that the voice of my conscience is now coming from outside of me? Would I heed my own advice or would I think that I am smarter than me? These questions drive me crazy.
Imagine that whatever is being hidden will soon cause disastrous
consequences and future me chose this exact moment to visit in order to avoid much pain and strife. Is this a smart choice for future me to make? How does he know that altering his past and my present won’t cause even more dire circumstances? Or maybe this isn’t his first trip back to my present. Maybe he’s seen what happens both ways and in his present he notices that something isn’t right and this tips him off to the fact that I haven’t followed his advice and he’s come to make another attempt.
What if he’s suicidal and he’s experienced so much pain between his then and my to be that he’s decided that it would be better to go back in time and off himself/myself before we have to go through all that. Would I defend myself from myself? And if so, how would I do it. What if I killed him? Would I, in his past, disappear? Or would I simply know how and sort of when I die in the future? I could judge by my future appearance my approximate age at the time I decided to come kill myself. Would I be able to kill him and then decide not to kill my past self when my present self gets to that point in the future?
If he killed me, he’d have to die also, but if I killed him would I be a murderer? Would it still be a suicide if I killed myself and lived to tell of it? Would I have a guilty conscience? And which of my selves would possess my soul? Could he continue to go back to different points in our timeline killing ourselves and populating the afterlife with many iterations of us/me? Or would all of our souls converge on one single death point as my finality? If that’s the case the only way he could end us would be to kill us in his own current timeline, however, that may not end us because current me could choose to kill myself at any time. I suppose that if I did that it would erase him. Is he living now or is he nonexistent until current me gets to his time point?
This is confusing. How do we know if we are at the very leading edge of our timelines or if we are simply past versions of the future we haven’t lived yet? Is future me already living? Am I ruining his future? If so, is he cross with me?
Now I have a headache. I’m going to bed. I bid you Adieu and a don’t
Adieu…make careful decisions. You could be causing your future self undue stress.
A don’t…walk on egg shells for fear of offending your future self. It seems highly unlikely he/she (depending) will ever come to visit.