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Thread: Idea: If time could be bought and sold

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    Idea: If time could be bought and sold

    Hey, I want to write around the idea of time being a commodity, as in, having financial value. I know it already does in terms of wages, but if it could be bought and sold as something tangible, how would society be affected? I want to comment on how the value of time would change: rich people would not appreciate it so much whereas people who need the money might sacrifice time with their family and sell it. Yet in both cases time would be reduced to money instead of being something special separate from it.

    I could also look at how it would affect the other values that society holds, like how the Industrial Revolution changed societies values in the 18th and 19th centuries.

    I don't feel relaxed when I'm writing seriously though, and I only write well when I'm relaxed, so I was thinking of making it satirical. I don't know a lot about satire, but I can research it. What would the challenges of writing with satire be?

    As of yet I don't have a plot. But I will make sure I flesh it out before I start officially writing, although I have experimented with some scraps and pieces. I enjoy reading books with a number of narrators or viewpoints, with the characters' lives intertwining at some point, so I might do that as a way of communicating multiple points.

    I would really appreciate any comments

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    Re: Idea: If time could be bought and sold

    So like the movie In Time.

    In 2169, people are genetically engineered with perfect health and appearance. Each has a digital clock on their forearm; when they turn 25, they stop aging and their clock begins counting down from 1 year.When the clock reaches zero, that person "times out" and dies. Time has become the universal currency, and can be transferred between people or "time capsules".
    Last edited by plane; 19 Jan 2017 at 9:38 PM.
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    Re: Idea: If time could be bought and sold

    I mean it is a cool idea, but it has a lot of similarities to both "In Time" and "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman"." so you would have to spin it in a way to make it quite different.
    Last edited by Jakulore; 19 Jan 2017 at 8:05 PM.
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    Re: Idea: If time could be bought and sold

    I can't think of something very satirical but I can totally think of all sorts of corrupt and bad things that can happen depending on how you define buying/selling time. Note that I interpret "time" as "time left to life", so sorry if that's not the interpretation you were going for.

    Does every person have their own "time" at birth? So could you take all the time from a baby the moment it's born, leaving a dead baby and a person who lives an extra 80+ years? Can you get into time debt? Taking a loan and if you don't pay back when you're supposed to, your time is taken from you (the longer your debt goes unpaid the shorter your life gets until one day you just die).

    Can time be stolen and through what means? Perhaps there's a gang of criminals who live off stealing other people's time. Maybe it's like Robin Hood - stealing time from the rich who can just go and buy more time.

    Also, an interesting point would be whether it's possible to see how much time you have left? Would you know then when you're going to die? Would couples share their time then to die together? Would people with a lot of time donate it to people who don't have a lot left? How exactly does it work if say - you don't have a lot of time due to some terminal illness, but then you buy more time? Do you just magically recover and get better, or do you just prolong your own suffering?
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    Re: Idea: If time could be bought and sold

    Thanks for that, I will have to check out "In Time" and "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman".

    I haven't yet wrapped my head around what it would mean for a person's lifespan, I was thinking that at first it would be used on a personal basis- eg. a person waits at the bus stop for half an hour, but changes their internal time so it feels like ten minutes. Everything around them moves three times faster, but for them only ten minutes pass. They can then use the spare 20 minutes later, by making a 10 minute time slot feel like half an hour, so they can be three times more productive eg. cook dinner in 10 minutes instead of 30. It would be like making the bus trip to school really short, and using the time you didn't spend on the bus trip to lengthen an exam. So that wouldn't shorten a person's lifespan, because the amount of time passing externally would remain the same, and where a person loses time they can later gain it.

    But if a system was invented whereby this time could be exchanged between individuals, one individual could continually shorten their time and sell it to an individual who wanted more- shaving 20 minutes off the wait for the bus and passing it to another person who has a report due in tomorrow, rather than using it themselves. This still wouldn't impact their lifespan- the same amount of time would pass externally, but for an individual making time seem shorter their entire life would feel shorter. This is assuming the physical body still ages as it would in normal time, not the sped up or slowed down versions.

    However, this is really confusing. I would have to work hard to make it really clear. Would the best angle be to use first person to step the reader through the process as a person uses it?

    Thanks KingofActing they are really cool thoughts. I can see the time debt thing happening. There are all sorts of implications for human rights, like child labour (taking time off children, like you suggested) and time equality between socio-economic groups.

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