Imminent Immortality

| Marc Pichel

As a young person, it is easy to believe you live forever. Specially without any hardships. “Ignorance is bliss”, they say. But what if we were really immortal? What would change in your life? Your ambitions, your dreams, your fears. Does this mean that heaven is not real anymore? Or hell? And more practically: Will you be able to do your future job not just for 35 odd years but for eternity? Why study now, if you have forever?

Photo by: Eigen foto Marc Pichel

Fear of life or fear of death

As a kid I was often faced with accepting a changing environment. Interchanging my social circles and my role models. The hardest thing was not 'replacing' the old ones, but letting go of the old ones. An experience that can lead to a certain fear of life. A fear of its constant changing nature, of losing friends and of losing a safe or stable surrounding. A comfort zone. Until I realized a short three decades later, that life is my comfort zone. So why fear it?

In the case of fearing death, Stephen Cave said we have 4 stories to cope with it. All pertaining to: The promise of immortality. It would be logical to assume that in case of immortality, there is no need for a story anymore. So where are we? If we look at the lifetime expectancies for humans of the last century, as per Levine et al. 1997 (image), we can see there is already a (natural?) gap between the technologically advanced species, us, and the rest. Healthcare technology is not just about alleviating uncomfortable ways of living, like daily migraines, ulcers or a partially disabled sensory system. It is also about living longer.


Then I thought about that fear of life and wondered: Why are we prolonging life if we do not even know if people even want to live that long? If all we do is exist in this societal wheel of fortune; instead of live. Or worse yet: What if we, the people, are not even happy with or aware of the fact that we are already exceeding our given life expectancy boundaries as it is? Perhaps living forever would only blind us for the uniqueness of 'short-lived' moments?

Would it be as exciting when your (social) life isn't at risk? It is kind of like the fear of missing out (#FOMO). The craving for moments of joy in the virtual or real world. Like keeping up with Game of Thrones, which grants you access to fleeting conversations on the topic. It is this ephemeral nature, which makes it attractive. That makes life a hype.


What do you get out of that experience though? Does it only build a bond with people you might never talk to again? Does it help you work towards the future you envision? I guess for me the only true question is: Do I want to die with dreams or memories? So make studying one of those great memories, not the regret of having missed out. #YOLO