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June 14, 2006

"Everyone carries their own water"

John Titor was the name of a guy (or girl) who started posting on internet messageboards back at the turn of this century claiming to be from the future. Specifically from 2036. He went online to warn mankind about what was going to happen whilst on a military time-travel mission from the future - telling us about things like a world war in 2015 killing 3 billion people, the disintegration of the USA and the destruction of the EU. Nothing useful like who to put your money on in the 2006 World Cup, mind you.

Some of his predictions have subsequently been disproved. Or have they? Titor claimed the USA would experience "civil war" following the 2004 elections. Of course, that doesn't appear to be the case from our timeframe perspective, but you know, did the Second World War "start" in 1939 or could you say it "started" in 1933 when Hitler came to power? He also said the 2004 Olympics would be last games - and although the verifiable existence of Torino 2006 seems to disprove that, some people argue that isn't the same as the summer games so we won't know until the 2008 Olympics do or don't happen. If it is the case, it will have made celebrating the award of the 2012 games to London more pointless than England's 2006 World Cup bid. Remember that?

There is (of course) a website dedicated to John Titor's postings and trying to prove them at http://www.johntitor.com/

Carryourwaterbusstop_1 I first came across the story back in 2003, but I'm reminded of John Titor most days at the moment, not because I'm some kind of internet nerd obsessed with the concept of time travel.

Oh, hang on a minute.

Because in addition to being an internet nerd obsessed with the concept of time travel, I now leave the house looking like how I imagine John Titor claims 2036 looks every day.

Of all the things that Titor posted on the web, the one that really stuck in my mind was the following phrase:

Everyone carries their own water.

It seemed to sum up the whole step-change in society he described - that water was now a scarcity, and that if you met someone else, you could no longer trust that their water, even if they offered it to you, would be safe to drink.

And at the moment, every day I set of to town carrying about three litres of my own water with me. After we'd been in Crete a little while I began suffering a series of migraines - and eventually, after trying to eliminate various possible trigger foods and drinks, they abated when I stopped walking to and from town every day. They mostly came on in the middle of the night, and we now think it was just to do with me getting too dehydrated with the exertion of walking for over an hour in the heat along the beach each day. I've started getting the bus during the day, and only walking back when it gets cooler, and now try and make sure I drink a good couple of litres of water every day.

Carryourwaterbackpack Of course, ironically, the more water I have to carry, the heavier the backpack is, the more I exert myself, and so forth. Eventually I shall either just be carting our water tank to Hania and back, or will disappear in a puddle of my own sweat.

And what do I think of John Titor's time travel claims?

Well, I've got to hand it to him/her - they published just enough posts to leave an intriguing body of work that doesn't get self-contradictory, never seemed to rise to being flamed, and pulled off the ultimate added reality trick of just stopping posting one day.

If it was, as I guess, a hoax, imagine being the hoaxer and facing down the temptation every day to log on again and say "I'm back on another time-travel mission, and the reason my Olympics prediction wasn't right was because of another timeline paradox etc"...

My best guess is that it was an American political nutjob pulling off an interesting hoax to make a political point. Albeit one of those USA-centred political points that I've never quite understood and seem slightly self-contradictory. He seems to be suggesting that we are all doomed since we don't read the bible, beat our children, or hate people with a different colour skin enough, because we've all gone a bit soft and liberal in Western society. But at the same time as well as being anti-government and anti-authoritarian, he is also very eco-friendly and anti-rampant consumerism, which aren't traits you generally associate with the right-wing. John Titor's version of 2036 is like a blueprint of how the USA would end up if the people under siege in Waco had been right in all their paranoid fears about how society and federal government in the USA was developing.

I'll leave the last words to John, though, in one of those phrases from his postings that I find I can't entirely believe will not genuinely be the case in 2036:

Perhaps I should let you all in on a little secret. No one likes you in the future. This time period is looked at as being full of lazy, self-centered, civically ignorant sheep.

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Headaches in the middle of the night? It couldn't POSSIBLY be connected to sitting in bars all day watching football, drinking beer, could it?

PS You don't think he was predicting the Marvel comics series when he spoke of Civil War?

Ah, but did he foresee the unmasking of Spiderman ;)

To be fair, I should point out that they started about three weeks before the World Cup did...

Hey,it's me John,I'm back to say,"ha,ha you suckers".

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