Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind Or A Clutterd Brain

I've often heard the question, "So if you could have one super power what would it be?" I've also been asked, "If given the choice between invisibility or reading a person's mind, what would you choose?"

Most people might give their answers right away on these questions. But I can think of two examples where these gifts would be problematic. Take the idea of being able to read minds. It might seem great at first, but after awhile your head could become clouded with everyday thoughts that aren't your own. A person may be grumbling in their head and you would hear the full, uncensored complaint. You may not be able to turn it off. You would also know the whole, brutal, honest truth from everyone. In fact, after awhile, you might prefer to stay away from people to shield yourself from their thoughts. It might drive you into depression, make you feel angry, or drive you crazy. The gift of reading minds is not as tempting as it sounds when looked at in this way.

In the second case, with the gift of invisibility, you might think it's the perfect gift for you. You could do things without the knowledge of others. You could be sneaky, you could spy, you could stay well under the radar. However, I'm going to use the South Korean film "Voice" to illustrate what I think could happen if you were invisible all the time. In the film, a teen-aged schoolgirl becomes invisible after a frightening encounter. She can no longer be seen and can only be heard by a few select people. One of them is her best friend. She also lacks the ability to touch anything, just like a ghost. Her ability is similar to reading minds in that she can stealthily hear what others are saying without being detected. But once someone can't see you anymore, they begin to forget about you. Out of sight, out of mind. The girl's dilemma is that she will disappear forever if she is forgotten by her best friend. She tries desperately to keep talking to her friend throughout the movie. As long as her friend can hear her, she's somewhat safe. But after awhile her friend comes to find that it's not easy having a friend that can't be seen. It becomes awkward and problematic.

In this example, if you were invisible, you would likely have a strong need to be around other people. You would want them to acknowledge your existence all the time and to reinforce the fact that you're actually there. Being invisible carries the curse of loneliness and isolation. It carries the curse of worry and despair in knowing that people won't interact with you the same way anymore, because people, for the most part, live in a visual world and they like things that they can see.

So those are my thoughts on these two supposed gifts. But if I had to choose between reading minds or being invisible, I might pick reading minds. At least with that gift, you could limit your contact to others. They would know that you were there and you could probably learn to block out or downplay what others are thinking.

What do you think?
paclark paclark
2 Responses Jan 22, 2013

This is a very interesting post. I think that in order to qualify as a superpower, it has to be more advantageous to have it than not. Otherwise it is a supercurse or a superweakness or something. So if I chose invisibility, I want it to be like Invisible Woman in the Fantastic Four. If I got what the girl in the Korean film got, you can bet I'd be taking it up with whomever offered my the superpower to begin with -- in this case, you. So if you're going to give me superpowers, please make sure that they don't suck. If I'm going to be able to read minds, I want to be able to turn it off.
If I have to choose between these two crappy versions of superpowers, I will take the mind reading also. For one, you can still interact with the rest of the world. Second, though sometimes it might be too noisy, it is still a cool superpower, and I think I could learn to live with the noise.

I would also go with reading minds. I have always been obsessed with wanting to know the deeper psychology of peoples thoughts. It would first be very interesting to get a feel what it is like to actually feel another persons thoughts, like would I feel their emotions too? Thoughts trigger emotions and I personally think that if you can read minds emotions should also be included or else misunderstandings would be often. I think our verbal thoughts are just a small tip of the iceberg where down below the emotions are the force driving the thoughts. I think I would enjoy the challenge of taming that ability, whereas invisible meh good for a few pranks but that would get old in a month.