Down in my local (the source of my solace and, increasingly, my material) one of the guys reckons he’s going to get himself cryogenically frozen, so he can be revived in 100 years after they invent a procedure to cure whatever it is he dies of.
This idea has been doing the rounds for many years now. It is widely believed that Walt Disney had himself preserved in this way, though this is in fact untrue (which is a pity, for if it were true then Disney on Ice would surely have been the most tastelessly named show of all time).
The notion is very popular with people who have seen a lot of Sci-Fi, and who believe that the only differences between 2108 and now are that in 2108 everyone will wear one-piece tacky clothing, that machines will speak in soothing female voices and that people will drive really cool cars on surprisingly clear roads. The cryonees will awake, cash in their substantially-increased nest-egg, and slip effortlessly into society.
The sheer awfulness of the reality could not be more different. Just imagine that you had done this in 1908 – after dying of pneumonia or flu, the two biggest killers at that time, at the average life-expectancy age of 47 – and were awakened today. Ireland is a very different place. The British are gone, our currency is different (indeed, the decimal currency has come and gone during your Big Sleep) and the entire culture has dramatically changed. How would you deal with cars, computers, TV, mobile ringtones, showers instead of (infrequent) baths, pooing indoors?
Speaking to women in the way you were accustomed to will now earn you a smack in the face. The world’s first female mayor was elected in 1908, but women still didn’t have the vote. <- This photo shows the archery team at the 1908 olympics. What would you make of the way athletes like Yelena Isinbayeva – sure let’s show a picture of her – dressed in this years? How could you watch the beach volleyball without having a seizure?
Imagine shopping. In 1908 marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at local corner drugstores in the US. Good luck with trying to buy some today. Everything else in the shops would be a nightmare. “Where can I buy a strop for my razor?” “Call these underpants? They don’t cover my legs.” What is a skinny latté? Sushi? Broccoli? Imagine the first time you went to a kebab shop. One look at that thing revolving behind the counter would give you nightmares for ever. If that’s lamb, how bloody big are the sheep these days?
Even when you thought you were right, you’d be wrong. You’d look at a map of Europe, see all the same little countries that were there in 1908, and think “well, at least world politics stayed stable while I was gone.”
So now imagine that you do it today, and wake in 2108. Getting the one-piece tacky clothing will be fine, as long as Champion Sports is still in business, but I haven’t enough imagination to predict all the other changes, and I don’t think anyone else has either. There may be robots, we might all live in the ocean, or on the moon. Global warming may have dramatically changed the planet, or it might all have turned out to be crap.
There are one or two things you can be sure of, though. The life-expectancy will now be 147, so you’ll have to work to support yourself. What will you be qualified to do? Exactly. Welcome to your job in Spar.
There will be four thousand TV channels, all showing Premier League Soccer. The only programme you will recognize will be Coronation Street, but of course all of the characters will be different, apart from Ken Barlow.
Classical music radio stations will feature the works of Dylan, Led Zeppelin and, rather strangely, McFly.
The average height of a human grew by 8cm (almost 3 inches) in the last 100 years, so if that trend continues everyone in 2108 will be taller than you.
And as the number of Christians is declining and the number of Muslims and Hindus is rising, you will by then be a member of a minority religion, if someone hasn’t proven it all to be rubbish by then.
So there you will be in 2108 – a talentless, shortarse member of a religion no-one believes in.
A sort of 22nd Century Tom Cruise.