For years, fictional characters have gained superhuman abilities due to exposure to toxic waste/radiation/mutant spiders. They run around in tights for no apparent reason. Some choose to be heros while others try (and fail) to take over the world. Someone will inevitably knock down buildings, toss trains, or raise a bit of a ruckus. Heros will swoop in, enjoy a prolonged tussle, and then race off, leaving a demolished city in their wake.
It occurred to me that, in spite of the frequently hyped mutation benefits, most people really don’t want to live near a toxic waste dump. I know. You’re probably wondering, “Hey, wouldn’t it be great to have an extra pair of arms, or some wings, or the ability to read minds?”
What if those arms looked like T-Rex arms? That doesn’t sound quite as good now, does it? Other than the obvious texting advantage, tiny additional arms don’t have much going for them. What if you grew wings, but they were pink and too small to help you fly? That might be especially bad if you’re name was Tinkerbelle. Kids can be cruel, you know. Parents who name their kids after fictional characters can be worse.
I think mind reading would be pretty bad, though. Can you imagine the constant noise and confusion as hundreds or even thousands of thoughts swarm over you? It’s one thing to ignore the roar of faceless strangers. It’s another to try in vain to block the thoughts of those you know. Do you really want to know what they think? What about politicians? Can you imagine the years of therapy you might require if you knew exactly what your govenment had planned for you? The only time you’d find absolute peace and quiet would be while you were stuck in traffic. Heavy traffic is blissfully free of thoughts.
I think teleportation would be a much better super power. I think about that every time I buy gas. I also dwell on this idea during the daily commute. Think of the possibilities. You could instantly jump anywhere you wanted to be without the soul-crushing grind of getting there. Nothing would be out of reach. There’s a downside, of course. The fact that the planet is spinning and falling through space means that your jump would have to be perfectly planned in order to avoid slamming your face into a mountain or unexpectadly enjoying the vaccuum of space. All in all, you probably wouldn’t have much time to learn from mistakes. On second thought, telepathy might be safer than teleportation.
A mind reader just drove past me, rolled down his window, and shouted, “Duh!” I’m glad I don’t know what he’s thinking.