Why Reading is Better than Telepathy

Your thoughts to my thoughts...

Telepathy is a pretty sweet deal, right? You reach out your hand, or maybe just stare at somebody, and suddenly you know what they’re thinking. The mere fact that it happens in every sci fi and fantasy story, ever, is proof that we all secretly wish we had that kind of power.

It may have occurred to you that reading is sort of a poor man’s telepathy. After all, you are – in a sense – reading someone else’s thoughts, right?

I’m here to tell you the opposite. Reading isn’t a poor man’s telepathy. Telepathy is a poor man’s reading. Suck it, Betazoids.

Six Reasons Reading is Better than Telepathy

6. Unlimited range. Not only do you not have to be in the same room as your target, you can even be on the other side of the planet. Those, my friend, are some powerful neurons.

5. You get more than one try. Telepaths are always saying things like “I tried to see what she was thinking there, but I couldn’t quite make it out.” If that happens in a book, you just read the paragraph again.

4. Works on dead people. Normally, to read the mind of a dead person, you have to get into all sorts of necromancy and unholy chants, and next thing you know, some phantom from the demon realm has slapped you with a hex and your apartment smells like formaldehyde. Books, on the other hand, are so kickass that the person whose thoughts you’re reading can die while you’re reading them and you won’t even notice.

3. No crazy side effects. Telepaths have to deal with all sorts of crap: nightmares, screaming victims, Freudian labyrinths, the constant chatter of people’s mental voices. Not you. As a reader, your telepathy is strictly on-demand, and you’ll never have any weirdness worse than the occasional eye strain. (Okay, nightmares may be a possibility too. I’m looking at you, Mr. Lovecraft.)

2. No invasions of privacy. Let’s face it: do you really want to live in a world where people can pick up every random thought in your head? Readers can only read what you write. It’s opt-in telepathy. How cool is that? Answer: it is significantly cool.

1. Reading is a real thing that actually exists. And you are reading my thoughts right this very second. Well done, hypothetical reader. Well done indeed.

Of course, I’m still jealous of Mr. Spock for other reasons. I mean, just look at those ears. You could skewer a kabob on those things.

Have you ever wanted to be a telepath?

4 responses to “Why Reading is Better than Telepathy

  1. Linking to a Spock wikipedia page so early in the morning before I’ve accomplished anything is evil…pure evil…

    Hey, I heard telepathy actually exists in rare cases. No idea if that’s true or not. But everyone can read, so that makes it even cooler.

  2. I have a character who can do anything (really). At one point, a friend asks her a question about a mutual friend and she (the omnipotent one) says, “How should I know? I don’t read minds.”

    “Hey,” her friend says, “I thought you could do anything.”

    “I didn’t say I couldn’t read minds; I just said I don’t.”

    “Is that for ethical reasons?”

    “No. If you’d ever read one, you wouldn’t ask.”

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