As I watch this I’m watching an episode of Doctor Who from the eighties called “Attack of the Cybermen.” It got me thinking about cyborgs in science fiction and the prospect of them becoming reality. I know it’s something that’s often speculated about when it comes to the possibility of such a thing. But baddies in science fiction like the Cybermen scare us because they have replaced their entire bodies except for their brains and have become emotionless machines. Sure, that’s scary to us—but supposing somebody had to go through this process, how would they feel once it has happened?
Let’s suppose we do get to the point where the technology for this is real. Let’s also set aside a Robocop-style scenario (already this post has become one of the more nerdy ones I’ve written in a while) in which people are turned into cyborgs for malicious or at least mis–guided aims. Right now I’m only interested in the psychology of somebody who has to undergo such extreme surgery that only their brain is left organic and this process leaves him or her emotionless. This seems scary to us now because we value our bodies and emotions so much and the thought of not having a body puts us in distress. So somebody who is about to go through the process may feel panic.
However, once they have lost their emotions not only would they not feel sadness or more they would may not feel distress over the loss of their body. Emotion isn’t simply physical, I know that. But without the physical responses emotion would be greatly diminished. At most I would imagine would be the sense of loss.
Of course I’m thinking about all of this on a whim. Getting rid of the sci-fi cyborg fantasy, I have wondered what it would be like to not have emotion at all. Would I turn into a Vulcan from Star Trek and value logic and science above all else? Or would it really have much of an effect on me? My writing might not be as emotionally driven but I might still have the urge to write. Maybe I could have stuck with journalism if I didn’t get so emotionally invested in what I was doing. Or maybe with a clearer head I could develop my math and science skills. I get the feeling that mostly my life wouldn’t have changed that much.
As it is right now I usually only get emotional when something frustrates me to the point of anger or when I get embarrassed about something in the past. In both cases it’s often something trivial but never mind that. I’m prone to anger, especially before lunch or when I’m driving. But I can’t tell you the last time I thought I felt an overwhelming sense of happiness. I’ve had brief periods when enjoying a comedy of some sort or having fun while driving a motorcycle. But I wouldn’t call myself a generally happy person. That isn’t to say that I’m a downer or depressed. I’ve already been through that. I really just don’t feel a lot of emotion. Grief eludes me as much as love. I haven’t been scared in a long time although I would say that I haven’t had the need to be.
I could be overlooking emotions that are so weak that I don’t even recognize them as such. But the fact remains that I’m not an overly emotional person. I like my body and want to keep it that way but if I was forced to live forever as a cyborg without emotion, I’m not so sure that I would feel bad about it in the long run.