We are born, we age and we die. In-between the two significant milestones of what we call life, we seek meaning to this long-lasting event fantasizing about what follows. Is death really the end? Or is it just the beginning of a huge unknown?
What if there was no end to life?
Let’s assume for a minute that the humanity has found the secret of immortality and death is suddenly off the table for the old, the sick and the unfortunate who are perished every day in freak accidents. The perks of immortality would probably be in the lines of preventing ageing after a certain age and possibly through implementing rapid cell regeneration into our bodies to sustain a never-ending life. Surely, the ultra-wealthy would benefit from it first, but then it would eventually be available for all just like how newly found cures are applied to everyone after a certain time, probably pissing off the ones who had paid high prices for the privilege in the first years. Let’s say that an idealistic scientist made immortality airborne before releasing it to the atmosphere so everyone got the cure for death whether they liked it or not. It’s bad news for the ones with suicidal tendencies as the torment would now be eternal. But, what would happen to the rest of us, what would be in the store for us?
At first, people, especially the old and the sick, would probably celebrate the newfound immortality just like in Jose Saramago’s novel “Death at Intervals”, but soon joy would leave its place to sorrow as clergymen, morticians, life insurance providers, homicide detectives, contract killers and murder mystery writers become needless in society. The first signs of unemployment would spread to every profession eventually as the population starts to grow and retirement becomes a historical notion.
All sources of our eternal fear would eventually cease to exist amongst us, turning fear into a pleasant experience where nothing with grave outcomes takes place. Young daredevil wannabes will find new ways of entertainment as they jump off skyscrapers, run into burning buildings after setting them alight and dashing across streets riddled with drivers racing each other, filming the whole thing for the sake of more social media interactions just before finding out that it was only death that disappeared, not the pain and the long recovery times. Hospitals will be overflooded as a result and healthcare professionals would probably riot in a passive-aggressive manner.
Religions would be wiped out of existence or at least downsized to mini fan clubs with the last of the persistent fanatics working to earn a passage for heaven slowly vanish. With immortality in play, humanity would become their own micro gods. We don’t think God has a god, do we?
Breakthroughs in science and technology would be more frequent as brilliant inventors and scientists continue to benefit from their life-long experience to put on top of what they had already achieved. Soon, the whole universe would be our backyard to explore as manned spacecraft consisting of immortal astronauts chart course for distant stars right after the colonization of the moon by adrenaline junkies on painkiller meds and oxygen tanks, building habitats without any protective gear. Remember! The space is freezing, but what is frozen, can be thawed, just like how it works for frozen chicken in a microwave oven, to minimize the efficiency of the lunar workforce.
Exploration would not be limited just to space. Hard to reach places on Earth like the bottom of the Mariana trench or the insides of volcanoes would be thoroughly mapped and probably be opened for tourism, eventually ruining the last natural beauties of our planet. On the bright side, new life forms would be discovered.
Education would transform into simplicity of teaching the very basic stuff like the language and the culture as there would be no need for a vast number of specialists on Earth anymore other than for the ones that went off world for exploration.
Language is dynamic, so it would certainly change a great deal. Some expressions and words like “death”, “deathbed”, “murder”, “suicide”, “homicide”, “coffin”, “deadly”, “survival”, “survival of the fittest”, “natural” and all related vocabulary items would disappear, while others shift in meaning over time like the word “alone” would probably be used to describe “with few people in the vicinity” as skyrocketing population growth rate would make sure of that. The word “execute” would lose one of its prime meanings, making it used only for computer commands. New words to express new feelings would emerge as well as a new tense to talk about the very distant but experienced past.
New housing would certainly be a major issue. Some lakes would be dried and some mountains would be flattened to make new space for housing and most of us (mostly the poor) would have to live in vast overcrowded underground dwellings. Satellite estate agents would emerge either selling spots on space junk in Earth’s orbit, rent lunar homes, or advertise Martian blocks of flats for the rich.
Finally, natural resources would become so scarce that we would have to leave our scorched Earth to look for a new home across the galaxy. Luckily, being immortal opens up a large number of options that would have never been possible in history. But, some planet where we wouldn’t have to recycle our pee into drinking water would be swell. Not that we would die of thirst or hunger for that matter, but because how it would make us constantly feel. On the bright side, obesity would be gone forever.
The last thoughts of anyone watching the Earth get smaller from the spaceship monitors would be to try to find a cure to undo the damage of not being able to die. Without and end, life is not so precious after all!
Centuries later, we would have the chance to closely observe how human evolution takes place as we would have lighter bodies having to roam in less gravity for a prolonged time. The ones that couldn’t find a suitable planet to settle would have lighter skin colours and their eyes would probably lose sensitivity to light for better vision. In the end, we would lose our ability to reproduce. Why have tiny versions of ourselves to transfer our experience when we could live forever? Never needing to lactate ever again, female breasts would flatten and disappear, leaving behind only the nipples, very similar to how men are now.
Doesn’t the word “Immortal” sound much better with more appropriate punctuation and spacing, as in “I’m mortal”?