Intimations of Immortality

A woman I know, I name no names, thinks we are all going to live at least until 84 since some actuary claims that’s the average life expectancy for people of our generation. That is called wishful thinking. Also faulty math.

I point out that an average means that half of us will die earlier and the other half spend the years after 84 with Alzheimer’s. She persists in her hopefulness, however. And she is not alone. The Boomers are retiring daily in gigantic numbers and all expect to live forever. It is the delusion du jour, and what a disillusionment is in store.

Of sure, they transplant livers, kidneys and hearts and install titanium hips and knees. Judging by all the ads for Cialis and Osphena, there would be a huge market if some other parts that are no longer operating properly could be replaced.

Unfortunately all of our parts wear out. It will take more than a brake job here and a ring job there to keep us on the road for another twenty, let alone forty or fifty years. Still, some really delusional loons claim we are actually on the cusp of beating the rap. Immortality is just around the corner.

Those hyperventilating on this subject tend not to be medical men, but Silicon Valley types who think we can be digitized like Johnny Depp and uploaded to The Cloud. Who needs bodies? This is an amusing image since believers in the afterlife also think we will be uploaded to a cloud, but not in quite the same way.

The conversion of ourselves to data is a fantasy only solitary nerds whose girlfriends are already virtual and who live on Doritos could find appealing. The rest of us kind of like the parts of life that only bodies enjoy. Or did until the bodies started to rust in the joints and get balky elsewhere.

The techies, of all people, ought to realize how unreliable and gimcrack their soft and hardware are. What’s the lifespan of an iPod? About the same as a Mayfly. What happens to our disembodied selves when there’s a Flash Crash or Heartbleed infestation or the gear we’re dependent on goes the way of the Betamax?

I’ve still got a box of obsolete beta tapes, not to mention LPs and 78s. If I were stored on those media, you’d never see me again. Will I wind up in a similar box that the grandchildren will keep tripping over in the attic?

Despite the dreams of fantasists and the panic of boomers, we are all headed for the last roundup in the old-fashioned way. In the flesh, and a lot sooner than we suppose. Our generation has always thought itself exceptional, instead of just large. But in this case, there isn’t going to be an exception.

T’is all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days
Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays:
Hither and thither moves, and mates, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays.

In the immortal words of Porky, “That’s all, folks.”

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