After watching NBC’s forgettable new show Journeyman, I started thinking about the premise and what I would do if I were suddenly thrust into the past. Besides working to solve the obligatory problems of people so I could return to the present sometimes, would I do anything else? Here are a few thoughts I had, some funny, some not so funny.
But what would you do? Assume you couldn’t control your time travel but always went into the past in the country you are currently living in.
My first thought was to give my prior self stock tips. I figure getting random messages written on slips of paper in my own handwriting with personal details would get me to realize that I was being given some real info, and I’d act on it. Buy Microsoft, buy CISCO, get out before the bubble burst, etc. OK, now I’m wealthy.
My next thought was to share with my younger self ideas that became big in the future. I could share the algorithm from Google back when Altavista was still the rage. Maybe create YouTube or MySpace or something like that. OK, now I’m mega-rich.
Then my thoughts turned darker. I’d like to make sure I got out of the market before key events – such as 9/11. Given that I’m mega-rich, could I hire a security force to take out the hijackers before the event? Could I warn of the dangers of tsunami in the Indian Ocean? Should I tip the New York Times to the lack of evidence regarding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?
If I could do things like that – would I, and should I? Would I be morally obligated to do so? Where would I stop? And when the timeline diverged, what paradoxes might I have created? My head hurts thinking about it.
It is at this point that I realized the curse that such an ability might actually be.