Nature Future Conditional

The story behind the story: Running safety tips for humans

Keeping fit is important — especially after your planet has been invaded — so it is helpful that this week Futures welcomes back Marissa Lingen with some pertinent advice for those donning their running shoes. In Running safety tips for humans, Marissa explains the potential pitfalls for the unwary jogger, making sure we can all enjoy a safe spot of exercise. Marissa’s wise words have been seen in Futures many times before, where she has shed light on issues as diverse as looking after multiple versions of yourself, coping with time travel and dealing with Maxwell’s Demon. You con find out more about Marissa’s work at her website or by following her on Twitter. Here, she reveals how her latest tale came about — as ever, it pays to read the story first.

Writing Running safety tips for humans

This story is what happens when I read the fluffy section of the newspaper. Most local papers have them: the section with TV listings, advice columns and ‘lifestyle’ articles. They’re willing to tell you what’s hot for autumn and how to wrangle dating websites and how you’re doing squats wrong and wearing the wrong bra size. (Seriously, hasn’t everybody seen enough of these articles that we’re all doing squats right and wearing the right bra size by now? Get on it, people.) Sometimes there are heartfelt personal essays or reviews of a restaurant where you might actually want to eat. But there’s a lot of chirpy, peppy nonsense also, some of it actually toxic. (The Internet has this also. Obviously. But for the Internet, you have to actually click on the clickbait, whereas the newspaper will considerately deliver it to your door, neatly packaged.)

I think that even after a cataclysm, humans will still have a deep-seated need to tell each other, “It’s fine, it’s all fine, and here’s what colour shoes go well with cataclysm.”

I also think that some of the poisonous social assumptions that underlay some of this advice would be very hard to shake, even with an apocalypse. Hence Running safety tips for humans.

Other Futures stories by Marissa Lingen

The most important thingThe many media hypothesisBoundary watersMaxwell’s Demon went down to GeorgiaThe stuff we don’t doUnsolved logistical problems in time travel: spring semesterEntanglementQuality controlSearch stringsAlloy


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