People keep asking about flying cars, but would you really want one?
Let’s do a quick Google image search on “car through roof” and take a look. Those right there are regular old ordinary Earth cars that drive on the ground.
Explain me how making them airborne will be an improvement?
As I was skimming through these, I noticed that my search for “through roof” had brought up at least one story about car insurance payments going “through the roof.” That’s a point that I hadn’t even considered. Any of you who think you want a flying car, have you thought out what it would cost to insure one?
Do you want your teenagers driving it?
I think about three things pretty much all the time, and they are futurism, wishing, and capybaras. This story is only going to include two of those.
I think it’s extremely interesting when people express a heartfelt wish. I always want to know what those wishes are. They say a lot about a person.
I also happen to believe that almost all wishes are easily attainable. They exist within the laws of physics. Some wishes may take longer than others, but even then they can probably be construed to have been granted in some way.
The trick is that wishes always include technicalities.
Technically, you can make any car into a flying car. You can even drive it for a few seconds.
Oh, you mean you want it to fly all the time, in a way as ordinary as a commute in a traditional coupe or sedan today?
You want the sky to look like it did in The Jetsons?
...are you sure?
To me, this is sort of thinking too small. You get the ultimate dream image of THE FUTURE - a flying car, for goodness’ sake - and you want to copy what you were already doing in the past?
You want seventy years ago, only a few hundred feet further up?
Let’s imagine everyone who currently owns a car is popped into the future and now owns a personal flying vehicle instead. Internal combustion engine, room for passengers and cargo.
Is it the same size as a regular car, only it has wings or helicopter blades?
Okay, where are you going to park it?
You’re going from your house to... where was it, exactly? Work? The grocery store? The movie theater?
Okay, you were thinking you were... going to hop out and leave it hovering outside while you went in to eat dinner and enjoy your movie?
Okay, no. I understand. You were thinking you were going to... park it on the roof like a helicopter landing pad?
And then take an elevator or escalator down to the food court level?
What about all the other flying cars that your neighbors bought? Are they parking on the roof, too?
Are you sure? No retrofitting involved?
Oh, I see. You were just going to park it in the parking lot the way you used to with your regular old Earth car.
Except for the wing part. Do they retract? Into the chassis? Or where do they go? You remember in the showroom how they explained that your flying car needs a more powerful engine and more fuel, of course.
I guess you’re right. You would need a way bigger parking space than you used to.
That probably explains why you now have to walk so far from your parking spot to the main entrance.
Remember when we were talking the other day about how we wished we could have flying cars so we could just fly above all the traffic? Remember, you were mad because you were just in a fender bender and the other guy turned out to be uninsured?
Isn’t it a bummer how everyone else had the same idea and now we’re stuck here, hovering in traffic?
But at least we have plenty of time to laugh about how we used to always say we wished we had our flying cars.
Flying cars and jet packs. Those were the most futuristic things we could imagine.
The trouble with trying to create the future is that it’s so hard for us to picture something that is wildly different than the way we live now.
We think of the future and we picture a mid-20th-century suburban neighborhood, complete with single-family dwellings and personal vehicles. That means long commutes. Studies show over and over again that commuting is humankind’s least favorite activity.
(Dancing is #1 across cultures).
If we’re going to reimagine a better, cooler, and more interesting future, why would it have commutes in it?
Personally I want no part of a flying car. I doubt I would get in one. I don’t care how much training the driver (pilot?) has, I just don’t feel the need. If I did, I already would have gone on a helicopter ride somewhere, and I have no desire to do that.
I’m the kind of person who walks my bike down steep hills because I don’t like going that fast. I remember how I got my chin scar and that’s plenty for me, thank you.
When I sit and wonder what I would want my future to be like, if I got to be principal designer and I had unlimited funds, I realize that I don’t usually have an instant, clear answer.
I do know that the first thing I would want was a better quality of life, and flying cars aren’t particularly part of that image for me.
I picture a future where I am certain of the general well-being of the people I care about. I picture a future where I have interesting things to do all day, without the stress or anxiety or burnout or the Sunday scaries. I picture a future where I can spend ample time in pristine wilderness, where I am continually delighted and amazed by the activities of the wild creatures who live there.
In that future, I have the coolest smartphone you’ve ever seen. Want to hold it?
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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