Friday 16 January 2009

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus- Love in 2525

Sol, cradle of the human race.

Human life was not hard.

All that had to be done was to monitor it all. Monitor the system. As every child reached adolescence, and learned how things worked, each prepared to find themselves a task.
A bit of the infrastructure they would take responsibility for. A set of buttons, a set of dials, a screen to watch.
And otherwise, it ran itself.
Atomic materials from the sun in one end, then converted into energy or elements, whichever was needed. Raw materials extracted, processed, put into the infrastructure.

And out the other end- everything.
And all that human beings needed to do, was watch it. Adjust it when it went out of kilter. Or take steps to correct errors.
But otherwise?
Work was a thing of the past. The days when people actually had to work long hours to work the thing.
But people did not have empty lives. People would always be people. There were always those driven to know, driven by curiosity, driven by the need to make their mark. Those who spent their lives studying the inner workings of the infrastructure, finding ways to improve it even further.
Yet others spent their lives finding more efficient ways to send out more colonies out in to the galaxy, more efficient ways.
And yet others devoted their lives to studying the biggest questions of all. The actual structure of multi-dimensional space. Ways that the far flung worlds of humanity that now could only answer a question from another star that the other star asked years ago, a star it taken two centuries for humanity to journey to reach, ways that these long separated human cultures might indeed one day be able to travel to eachother in realistic timeframes.

There would always be those who chose to devote their lives to DOING something.

But many chose to live simply do their tasks and live the rest of their lives in leisure.

He was from Mars.
She was from Venus.

It was so long since the internet was created that the idea that once people only felt the presence of people if their fleshly bodies were in proximity was hard to imagine.

Because he felt her to be a permanent fixture of his life. Always there. At no point was he offline to her, or she to him. He could bring up her hologram at will, whatever image she chose to show him. Sometimes it would be a live image, as live as a twenty minute communication gap could ever be, sometimes one of her recordings. And he to her. There were obviously times when he would not want her to see what he was doing. But it was always possible for her to feel he was with her, and she to him.

The internet. It had become the hub, the central nerve system of humanity in the twenty first century, as disparate strands of technology merged. As the technology to generate holograms from Lasars made it possible for people not physically in proximity to appear physically in proximity. For a person in reality alone in a room, to bring the holographic forms as many people as he wanted into the room with him. The coming of the internet to the mobile phone, and the development of the mobile phone in wristwatch form had meant that any person, anywhere, could be in the presence of anyone else, anywhere, in virtual form.

And virtual locations proliferated. Every human being found their access to other human being increased tenfold. The virtual friend became as real as the real friend. Physical proximity ceased to matter. Whole groups of people considered themselves friends, socialised together, drank together, spent every evening together who hardly if ever met in the flesh, and indeed the chances of them ever ALL meeting up in the flesh together were highly unlikely.

What he had with her, was special. In a sense, he felt the same way about her as a twentieth century man might have felt about his lover. Certainly, she was his best friend. Which is why she was never offline to him. Every time he wanted to say something to her, he could. Though it would be a while before he heard back. Fifteen minutes for his thoughts to cross from Mars to Venus, then she would reply, then the answer would return. They had got used to avoiding one line transmissions. Knowing the time gap, they spoke in paragraphs. He had never spoken to her in any other way. He heard her voice say the words, he could even see her say it, but when he heard it, it was fifteen minutes after she had said it.

There was no doubting that she was indeed the most important person in his life. And yet there was something about their relationship which would have puzzled a man or a woman of the twentieth century. The fact that two people who loved eachother with probably more genuine sincerity and who were honest with eachother in a way generally unheard of in the twentieth century, had never met in the flesh and probably never would.
What was the point?
There was no real purpose his taking the five week journey to her world. They had eachother all the time, in the way that mattered. Sure, their conversations involved time delays, but they could see eachother and hear eachother's voices all the time. And they were used to conversations being that way. They didn't feel, as a twentieth century person might, that a real life in the flesh conversation was superior.

A twentieth century person might have wondered if they didn't desire to physically consummate their love. They would both have laughed at the twentieth century belief that sex and love were tied in that way. They would have pointed out that sex was just sex and that a hundred and twenty million miles was a long way to go for physical intimacy, when both of them lived in cultures where sexual promiscuity was a way of life. Neither of them was ridiculous enough to think that there was much point to that, and both were quite happy that the other had a full and satisfying sex life with people actually in their physical proximity. Both felt close enough to the other to still stay online to the other even during the occasions they were being physically intimate with others.

They didn't need to ever meet to share what they did. They talked non stop every day about art, about history, about philosophy, and yes, about sex. Not about what it would be like if THEY had sex, though they loved eachother very much. But about human experiences of it. And they took stimulants together, they co-ordinated their sleeping patterns so as to go to bed at the same time, they tended to eat at the same time, they were always there for eachother, always updating the other on their life.

They each had several children, though none together. They each had many sexual partners, but would never have sex with eachother. They would never touch eachother's flesh, never taste eachother's lips, never see the real life form of the other unless broadcast.

But was their love real and were they together?

They were. Theirs was true love.

And it was perfect, every day of their lives.


Anonymous said...

Sounds prophetic.

Anonymous said...

You're a romantic!

I kinda like the physical side though.. :)

Anonymous said...

Cool, that's a very different way of presenting your thoughts. Rather than a dry, abstract argument you have couched them in terms of a reality, a story with characters and that makes the ideas much more digestible and real. Definitely a big leap forward, I would say, Crushed. And the ideas are still cool, of course.

Anonymous said...

I suppose this is possible if both parties feel the same way. I would like to point out it hardly has to be a male/female relationship for this type of true live to exist. It seems this meets the criteria for platonic love, which was once considered a revered status (albeit typically between two men engaging in a great meeting of the minds, so says history and Plato, for whom it was named).

I don't really see people ceasing to want physical proximity to those they love, however. Connecting online is not the same as sharing breathing space. It doesn't have to be sexual. I've found the greatest mark of a friendship's intimacy is the ability to hang out in silence. There's something profound in that that I don't think Holograms and transmissions can reproduce.

Also, you miss out on shared experiences, which I have found creates bonds and history. Although I may be the only woman on the planet who invited her male best friend and his date on her honeymoon. But I thought it made fine memories.

Anonymous said...

I have definitely loved people I have never met in person before. My feelings of love are inside of me, not inside a computer. The computer is a vehicle only. If I were to find out that a virtual friend/love suffered a tragedy - the pain I would feel would be just as real as if they were in the room next to me. I don't need to be physically close to someone to make it real. Having said that...I do have the overwhelming urge and desire to hold/touch/kiss etc. someone I love. I would spend the 5 weeks together anyways.
I are both intense and romantic.

Anonymous said...

Ditto gingatao, btw Crushed. When you write in a narrative like this, your ideas come through more succinctly. I think you should keep at the novel.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes. Romance. Always my downfall. But you could have added an interesting twist such as..

One party only pretending to love the other - being a faker - and sharing the private thoughts/desires and feelings, of the Romantic one, with the whole bloggersphere, then letting the Romantic one know the extent to which they were duped while offering no explanation as to why, in order to play omnipotent mind games.

I expect psychopaths will still be around in 2525, if indeed any of us are.

I may have to have a go at writing that story myself. Except I'd need a ghost writer for obvious reasons.

Nice post Crushed.

Anonymous said...

Charles- I think things like this will happen. In fact things approximating them do already. I think people do genuinely emote to people already on the internet. But it's not an emotion we yet understand. Because it's totally new. But in time people will understand it conceptually.

Sue- Of course we all do. But shall I tell you a little secret?
I kind of had someone in mind when I wrote this. The sentiments I have towards them are entirely platonic. But they do give me a warm fuzzy feeling.
I think when it finally came home to me was one time I brought a bird back and was about to go to bed with her, but was checking comments here before I did. Then my friend came online and popped up on IM saying 'Hi'. I was a bit pissed so I replied 'I can't really talk now, I'm about to have sex'. She replied 'Too much information.

But I did wake up the next day pondering the oddity of the situation. And how in many ways the connection I had with that friend was much more significant than the fleshly one I had just enjoyed with a total stranger.

Gingatao- I guess I felt it would come across easier this way. I do kind of see this as the way we are going and I actually think it's an amazingly positive development.
I really do feel that our progress is actually in part about being able to express ourselves to eachother in ways which draw us ever closer, ways in which we really do feel collectively individual, if that makes sense.

VR- I have written on platonic sentiment before. Yes, i do think it the most significant of all sentiments. I always hold up the way I fel about my closest friends as being the most important of all emotions. It is deep, and a lot of people don't quite get it. Part of the reason I think in the past people haven't alloweed themselves to emote properly to their friends is a fear of being judged gay. But I think non-sexual love is true love in many ways. I'd die for my friends.

Well, you talk of the comfortable silence. In fact, I have someone in IM now. And time was when we'd have continuous conversation. These days, we don't so much. I just make random observations every ten minutes or so, and then we might talk for a bit. And then go back to what we were doing. Comfortable silences. but I still feel they're 'here' till one of says goodnight. :)

Sweet Cheeks- I don't know whether it's love in the way it's traditionally seen. But it's love of a persona without knowing the flesh. It is kind of something new.

But I think we emote with minds, not flesh.

The five weeks is the time it would take to get from Mars to Venus. At the moment that's assumed to be about as fast as you could move matter under any forms of power we can hypothesise.
Until we understand how to theorise hyper-dimensional travel which may allow us to move ROUND distances.

Although it must be POSSIBLE to move matter at over a million miles an hour, because the Earth moves that fast.

VR- I may well return to it, I just need to overhaul some of the background. There's large parts of the conceptual ideas I'm no longer happy with.

I've been Mugged- A little Jane Austen, don't you think?

It strikes me as a rather naive interpretation of human sentiments. The sort of sentiments that belong in age where people actually got sued for Breach of Promise.

I don't know that love is something that can be faked, or is something that anyone would want to fake. Maybe once, when people married for money.

To be honest, I doubt very much anyone would behave the way you imagine in your scenario. In all seriousness. I could be wrong, but I very much doubt it.

And I'm not sure what your plot scenario has to do with psychopaths. Unless the 'Romantic one', believing him/herself to be duped, then turns against the 'faker' with spiteful vengeance for what- even if your plot was plausible- would actually be a fairly minor grievance.

I would offer to be your ghost writer, but I'd have to treccomend serios amendments to the plot. :)

Anonymous said...

If she's from Venus, she must be very strong with really thick skin (because of the atmospheric pressure and the acid rain).

Can you imagine what cyberspace would be like if it incompassed not just this planet, but others?

Oops, you did.

Anonymous said...

You're absolutely correct Crushed. It wouldn't make for good story telling at all.

*Scrunches up paper and throws in overflowing bin*

Anonymous said...

Interesting post crushed. Of course it is already happening, as much as the tech will allow, isn’t it.

I do agree with some of the other commentators like Sue though, I figure people might still get a hankering to be physically intimate together, but with the right technology maybe it would be possible without being physically close together?

After all if it would be convincingly possible to make it seem like you could see and hear someone why not touch too?