Beam me up Scotty…I think

Posted: January 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

We did a serious road trip over Christmas this year. 1,350 odd kilometres in a couple of weeks, which equated to about 40 hours of travelling once all stops, delays and slow moving traffic was accounted for, and it felt like a lot of travelling too. I generally love driving, but this was a bit ambitious.

More than once on the trip I thought of the “Beam me up, Scotty” transport they used on Star Trek – you know, stand on the transporter platform and reappear elsewhere instantly – or the “apparating” that characters in the Harry Potter series do, which is similar but without the need for any equipment. A tempting thought, but what would things look like if we really had instant travel?


It’s enormously and instantly appealing from a personal point of view. Just imagine the extra time you’d enjoy if you could cut out the daily hour to two hours of commuting! Far less stressful too, if you discount the possibility of leaving a limb or two behind each time. You’d also have incredible freedom when it came to work or play: you could choose a job anywhere in the world and never have to worry about leaving behind your support network or circle of friends when you finished at the end of the day. In your leisure time you could visit any destination you liked and never have to worry about being stuck for somewhere to stay at night – just think of the savings in accommodation costs.

Of course, not everyone might be happy with such a statement of affairs. The entire hotel industry would just about collapse, that’s for sure – why would you need them? The motor industry would probably go down the tubes as well, though you could make some snarky comments about that already. No doubt others would spring up in their wake and I wonder what those would be.

In the most immediate sense, the world would become dramatically smaller and we would become a truly global society. What would this mean for governments trying to control their citizens? Surely it would be incredibly difficult. What if a nation wanted to go to war – what would the appetite for that be if people were thoroughly mingled? For that matter, how would you wage war if our enemy could disappear at any moment? Maybe, just maybe, we might have a more peaceful society. Every nation and corporation would immediately have to become globally competitive because the consumer’s freedom of choice would be limitless.

There would be some fascinating social implications as well. If you never really had to move, you would never really leave your friends in the process of natural attrition that happens at the moment but you’d also end up potentially joining new circles all the time. I read once that we have a capacity for about 50 real relationships in our lives at any one point, and I’m not sure I could cope with the implications of so many more! Like Facebook, where you can always be hunted down by old acquaintances, but more complicated…

I can’t shake the feeling that there’s a good story somewhere in the notion of instant travel, but for now I’m just intrigued by the possibilities. What about you? What springs to mind when you think of them?

  1. Peta-Ann says:

    All the places in the world that I could see and leave the instant they are unfavourable in anyway. To make up my mind and not be influenced by press coverage regarding situations. Oh the possibilities are endless!

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