Well since this hashtag is making its way across Twitter, I thought I would compile a list of useful superpowers. And when I say useful, this is in the Western, capitalist world of 2013, assuming that the power must be kept relatively secret.
Drum roll please…
1. Knowledge Absorption
If you want a useful superpower, this is it. The ability to absorb knowledge is nothing to scoff at, as anyone who has stayed up late cramming for exams is aware (I’m looking at you, yes you). There are variations on this, such as the ability to learn things very quickly and then replicate these things exactly. For example, Finesse from Avengers Academy. In any case, imagine the possibilites. No making notes or rereading or last minute cramming that disappears from your brain as soon as the exam is over.
Want to travel? Read a language book once or watch a foreign movie, and then go forth and speak perfect Chinese/Italian/Spanish. In any time, knowledge is power. It might not be the best power to have in a firefight, but if you’re just a regular Joe (or Jane), knowledge absorption is the way to go.
2. Persuasion/Mind Control
Extremely useful, no matter where you are. Work in business? Being able to very easily make people do things is perhaps one of the greatest powers. Want to get into a concert that’s sold out? Tell the bouncer to let you in. Got caught speeding? Just tell them to rip the ticket up. We all know that the best way to get ahead is to know people that can help you. With persuasion powers, you can make them help you.
If you can get past finding out that half of your friends hate you and your parents are having affairs and that yes, you do look awful in those pants, telepathy would be a pretty useful power. All secrets are open to you. That’s assuming, of course, it’s not a mindreading variant that overwhelms you (like Buffy’s brief power in Season 3’s ‘Earshot’).
This power usually has a caveat. As mentioned above, it’s usually finding out a lot of stuff you wish you didn’t know. If you can get past that, telepathy would be sweeeeeet.
4. Time travel/Time stop
So this one is pretty contentious. Whenever time travel gets involved, things get weird. Rifts, multiple versions of people and altering the course of history itself are things that happen when you mess around with time travel. But it’s pretty useful, even if it’s just time stops.
It also depends on what kind of time travel it is. Do you need a TARDIS like the Doctor to do it? Or do you just need to concentrate really hard, like Hiro from Heroes?
As long as you understand time travel ethics (is there are class people can take for that?), and how to not break the universe, time travel would be a great power.
Flying is a bit left of centre. Personally, I just think being able to fly would be great. No need for lengthy train rides each morning – I could fly to uni or work. Same goes for plane rides. Planes are always uncomfortable, especially when you’re stuck in economy. So why not go yourself and save on booking fees and the like? There’s the small matter of luggage, so ideally it would be a quick journey or alternatively, one would have the double power of flying and superstrength. As long as you avoid no-fly zones and planes, you should be okay.
Why other superpowers didn’t make the cut
Here’s a quick runthrough of powers that wouldn’t be terribly useful in the real world.
Superstrength – oh good, you are better at manual labour than other people now. Congratulations.
Pyrokinesis – fire is cool. But apart from lighting cigarettes and vengefully burning houses down, what are you going to do with it?
Cryokinesis – you can stay cool in the summer and instantly turn anything into a popsicle. I suppose it could be worse.
Telekinesis – you can pull pranks on people pretty easily. But if you could make anything move with your mind, surely you’d get pretty chubby sitting around. I know if I had telekinesis, I’d use it to get cheesecake out of the freezer without moving from my bed.
Teleportation – kind of cool, except unless it’s non-scientific, you’re destroying your original self and recreating it somewhere else. Creepy.
Precognition – knowing too much about your future is bad for you. Also, it generally ends up coming true anyway, so you just have the headache of knowing something bad is coming. Durn prophecies.
Immortality/healing – sure, you would live forever. But rah rah, everyone around you dies, rah rah. Unless you’re cool with having to make new friends every 50 years or so, with everyone else getting creeped out by the fact you’re not ageing, immortality isn’t great in our current time. (Also, how do you get a job when your birth certificate says you’re 118 and you look like you’re 30?)
So that’s it for this time. Let me know if you can think of any other useful modern day powers.