Author Archives: Nadia Fradkin

A new meaning to New Year, New Me

As I was browsing Netflix in search of a new show – an extremely terrible idea with finals’ season approaching – a trailer for a new Netflix original series began to play. After being in this class for nearly a full semester, the first lines of the preview immediately caught my attention:

“Your body is not who you are. You shed it like snake sheds its skin.”

So, against my better judgement, I watched the first episode of Altered Carbon. (Don’t worry, I will not spoil anything). The show centers on the character Takeshi Kovacs who has just awoken in a new body after 250 years ‘on ice.’ While this is extraordinary to me, and I am assuming to you readers as well, for him and everyone else in his society this body replacement is perfectly normal. In this sci-fi universe, set about 300 years into the future, everyone gets a “stack” implanted at the base of their skull when they turn one. Each person’s stack stores and codes their consciousness. When they die their stack can be implanted into a new body, or “sleeve,” and they can continue living, but only if they can afford it. Sleeves are extremely limited. Thus far, it has not been made explicitly clear, but these sleeves seem to be the bodies of prisoners. Regardless, no one truly dies unless their stack is destroyed. It is technology that permits brain transplantation and with slightly less mess than previously imagined.

This kind of innovation would completely change the human perception of life and death. Humans would be able to outlive their own bodies. It would put immortality within reach. If someone had the means, they could go on living indefinitely. But brain transplantation would also create huge ethical dilemmas. We would have to determine if it is even morally sound to inhabit a new body. We would be forced to decide whose bodies would be for sale. Would we, like this show, use prisoners? Or, like Get Out, kidnap Black people? Or use losers in wars? Or would we, by then, have the technology to upload people into robots? We would also have to decide who could receive a new body, at what point in their lives, and how many times they could be transplanted. It would change everything.

Do you think our society will ever reach this point? Do you think brain transplantation is ethical? What are your ideas on whose bodies should/would be used? Would you ever want to be put into a new body?

Like this blog post or you will die in your sleep tonight

The year is 2007. Your razr–hot pink–chimes. You just received a message. There is a blurry image of a girl you’ve never seen before. The text underneath reads:

This is Kelsey Mason. Back in 2004, Kelsey was reading in her room by an open window. Her brother ran in wearing a mask to scare her. She startled back and fell out of the window. Her brother screamed, and her family rushed outside and saw her lying on the ground with her neck cracked. She was dead.

A year later, Brandon Madison was reading a message about Kelsey. He did not forward it to his friends. That night, as he was sleeping, he was snatched out of bed and thrown out of his window. His family discovered him the next morning on the ground with his neck cracked.

If you don’t forward this message to 10 of your closest friends in the next 5 minutes, Kelsey Mason will come into your room tonight and kill you.  

Uh-oh. The threat is definitely fake… but are you willing to take that risk? To put your life on the line? It doesn’t take you long to make your decision. After all, you only have five minutes.

Message Forwarded

Eleven years later and spooky chain texts and emails have faded away, but only to be replaced by slightly less ridiculous Instagram and Facebook posts stating things like:

Like this post or your dad will die in a car accident this week.

Repost this image or (insert random name) will kill you tonight.

Every time I see a post like this, no matter how absurd it is, I get just a little bit paranoid. Do I want to die over a like? Or for my mom to die? She is not even involved in this situation. Who makes these posts? No matter the year or the technological developments, it seems that people will always have an obsession with targeting the universal fear of death for likes or for reposts or, more simply, for fun. Maybe they love chaos. Whatever their motivations, these posts do receive likes and reposts. Death is perceived as so random and uncontrollable that people are often unwilling to risk it, especially for something so stupid.

What are your thoughts on these kinds of posts? Have you ever like or reposted anything along these lines? Or forwarded a chain email or text in your youth?