Countdown to the End

What would you think if there was an app on your phone that could tell you when you were going to die? Would you download it? Until now, the ability to divine the future and determine the moment of our death has been a skill considered only by mystics, witches or charlatans. But what if dying could be a phenomenon determined by science and not by the dark arts?

A couple of weeks ago, I read the novel They both die in the end by author Adam Silvera, a coming-of-age story in which the main premise of the book is that, in this fictional world, people will receive a phone notification of their impending death within the next 24 hours. The author does a splendid job of imagining how an invention like this could affect our daily lives in a world dominated by social media. Unfortunately, the author only provides “rumors” about how a technology company could figure out the future instead of trying to come up with an interesting theory about it.

In doing this, the book moves away from the realm of science fiction and answering the problematic questions posed by this type of technology and instead focuses on how the two main characters experience the last day of their lives. It is common to experience a change in behavior for all those terminally ill, but in the book, it is seen from the perspective of healthy young people destined for accidental death.

After finishing the book, I couldn't help but wonder if an app could tell us the precise date of our death, would it change humanity for the better? Curiously, when we come to this world, the only certainty we have is that our death looms on the horizon of our life, however, we waste most of our time doing things that do not fulfill us as human beings, trying to please others. the people we don't care about, worrying about inconsequential and mundane things, and endless etcetera. Maybe that's what we really need, for our smartphone to show the countdown to our own death every time we unlock the screen. Do you think that would help you focus on what's important to you? To avoid procrastination?

The Stoic philosopher Seneca wrote: “We are dying every day, and all the days we have lived until now are already in the hands of death.” This appreciation of our present, as a piece of us given over to death, is a way to change our perspective and change our behavior in how we decide to live our present, without really knowing if it will be our last. This can help us prioritize what is important to us and avoid worrying about meaningless things.

Perhaps this concept was more present among the ancients since few metaphors can better capture the transience of our lives than an hourglass. Since we can't have an app on our smartphones that tells us how much time we have left, maybe we should replace it with an hourglass. What do you think?

M. Ch. Landa

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