Time travel is probably one of the science fiction concepts that intrigue people the most, because whether you would go back in time to change your own life or try to better the world, the possibilities are endless (and super fun to consider!).
Which is exactly what these 15 people did, with the caveat that they would travel back to 1990, leaving their opinions and predictions on the internet for all eternity!
They had better hope they don’t regret that in the future…or the past. Whichever.
#15. Straight up.
“I would straight up claim to be a time traveler. There are many events in the 1990s that would be easy to predict without actually affecting their outcome. Most of these would be sports events, but there are other major world events you could predict.
Once I create a cult following in the mid 90s, I would start some simple investing schemes and buy up some .coms. I would use this and my knowledge of the internet to reach millions as it comes of age.
Then I hit them with the big one: I claim to be the second coming of Jesus. Yep, you read that right, straight up blasphemy. With a few more predictions I would have a very solid following/cult.
Next would be the “big reveal.” I tell all of my followers that I know when the apocalypse is coming: September 11, 2001. Predicting that event would catapult me to world renown, and put me on every government watch list imaginable.
Without a doubt, in the era of PATRIOT and post-9/11 fears, I would be jailed by the US government. This turns what use to be a cult following into a full blown, millions strong, religion.
Now for world domination. In prison, I demand to be released lest I “devastate the world for their non-compliance.” I make this statement on December 25, 2004. One day later the 9.4 magnitude earthquake creates the 2004 Tsunami. I claim it was me. When this too, is dismissed by all but my followers, I issue a final ultimatum: release me or I will bring the devastation upon the United States. The date of the Ultimatum: July 4, 2005. When the time comes and passes, Hurricane Katrina forms and strikes New Orleans.
With this, the world and the Church dissolve into pure chaos and I am released from prison.
I then tell my people that the time to overthrow our earthly governments is here and that I will be sending Hurricanes/Tornado/Earthquakes/Volcanoes until we succeed. I can use the active 2005 hurricane season to my advantage, the re-eruption of Mt. Saint Helens, that volcano in Iceland, the Japan Tsunami all to my advantage.
Without a doubt, if ever it was possible to “take over the world,” this would be it.
This best part is, unlike political predictions, these natural events would not be affected by the prediction, thus insuring that they still happen.”
#14. Low effort, high reward.
“As a 13 year old, I’d buy every .com website for every product or celebrity I could think of. Come to think of it, I’d probably attract a lot of attention to myself as the owner of things like britneyspears.com, backstreetboys.com or playstation.com in 1990. As those things became popular, people would start to look into other domains I registered, thinking I was some sort of Nostradamus. Then they’d try to predict the future based on what other stuff I had. You try to figure out what the hell SnakesOnAPlane.com or BenedictCumberbatch.com refers to.”
#13. Sentimentality ftw.
“Knowing what I know now, I don’t want to take control of the world. I would spend more time with my dad.”
#12. Karma is everything.
“I start reddit and give myself unlimited karma.”
#11. Some interesting ideas.
“If I consider this question seriously, it brings up some interesting ideas.
For me, I’d be 10 years old in 1990, but have the maturity and intellect of someone in their late 30s. To be honest, I think the first 8 years or so would suck, tremendously. At first I’d be surrounded by 10 year olds, forced to sit in class with them, play sports with them, etc. Have you ever been around 10 year olds as an adult? They’re insufferable. I’d be forced to sit in class and re-learn remedial concepts and socialize with kids who, by definition, don’t have fully developed social skills. I’m sure I’d be ostracized by them (because I’d definitely be talking weird to them and not be interested in playing “whip these rocks into the creek to make them splash” for hours). I’d also not be able to hang out with any adults either. I’m sure a few would find me a curious oddity, a kid who talks and thinks like an adult, but I wouldn’t be able to do any truly fun things with them.
I’d have to spend at least 6 years being chauffeured by my parents everywhere again. When I was a kid the first time, that didn’t matter at all. Now that I have my own car and independence, it would be unbelievably irritating. Just the loss of freedom would slowly drive me crazy. My parents wouldn’t just let me go anywhere I choose for years, I’d basically be a prisoner in my own house or neighborhood.
I wouldn’t be able to talk about music, movies, or books with anyone, since most of my favourites wouldn’t even have been created yet. When movies or books were finally released, I’d have to avoid spoiling them to people or risk being viewed as even more weird than I’m sure everyone would already consider me by then.
Sure, eventually I’d become rich by investing in the right companies or by betting on winning sports teams, but that wouldn’t happen for many years. For a long, long time I’d have no money of my own. And it’s not like my parents or any other adult would listen to my financial advice, I’m just a kid. Even if I pooled all the money from birthdays and odd jobs, I still couldn’t legally gamble with it or invest it without the help of an adult.
I’d have to watch my two grandfathers painfully waste away from cancer all over again. Sure, it would be nice to see them and tell them I love them, but that seems a selfish conceit given the suffering I know they’re about to endure. Would I be able to stop my friend Sean from hanging himself in his basement when he was 17? Sure, I might be able to stop him on the actual day, but would my efforts actually change the outcome, or just delay it? Maybe I could talk to him more and make sure he gets help, but I’d be living in dread, always wondering if today would be the day he’d finally break and do it.
Then there’s the whole Cassandra effect thing to consider. Sure I’d know the winner of nearly every major sports championship, but I’d also have foreknowledge of every major disaster, massacre, and tragedy and be pretty much incapable of stopping them. Would the US government heed the warnings of a 20 year old Canadian who says some extremists are going to hijack planes and fly them into buildings? Hell, they were given warnings by the professionals in the intelligence community that Al Qaeda was planning to strike in the US and that didn’t prevent anything. I wouldn’t be able to stop them on my own either. I can’t be on four planes at once. Would I be able to talk sense in Kleibold or Harris before Columbine? Would I have to murder them to prevent the massacre? Spend the rest of my life in jail? Would I be taken seriously in 2004 by saying a massive tsunami would kill hundreds of thousands? Would anyone listen to my ravings about Donald Trump? “That asshole from the Apprentice? Hahaha, shut up, idiot.” That would be an unbearable burden.
On the positive side, I wouldn’t spend 9 hours in line waiting to see the Phantom Menace, so I guess it’s not a total loss.
But in the end, I think going back to 1990 would be like a prison sentence for me. Maybe if I was older today, going back there and being an adult would be less of a drag, but I’d still have the Cassandra problem to deal with.
Edit: a word
Edit#2: thanks for the gold, kind stranger!”
“I would go to that dinner party with Stephen Hawking for timetravelers.”
#9. Be ready.
“Start my collection of The Office memes early and be ready for when the time is right.”
#8. Not wasting a decade. Again.
“Excellent! 19 years young. I’m dumping his arse right now! Not wasting that decade again!”
#7. Tell your mom.
“I’d tell my mom to go checked for cancer before it spreads too far, then spend all that extra time having her around just being a kid and enjoying life and secretly investing in safe stock I can cash in when I’m old enough to enjoy it.”
“Spend 13 years preparing to go on the apprentice and befriend Donald Trump.”
#5. A little frightening in the details.
I become the most depressed and intelligent pre-K child in the history of the world, due to the abrupt loss of my wife and children. My parents don’t understand what’s happening, and I don’t tell them, because it sounds absolutely crazy. I am not taken to a psychiatrist for years because we don’t have insurance and can’t afford it out of pocket.
I have behavioral problems at school. No one can deny my seemingly preternatural intelligence, but I’m so bored by the required work that, instead of doing what’s assigned, I make up and solve my own calculus problems. I write code in programming languages that don’t exist yet. I do not have access to a computer, and frequently demand access to a computer. My grades tank, I’m often sent to the principal’s office for disrupting class. But, this is America, so I graduate grade after grade after grade. My fourth grade teacher recognizes how much I already know, and feeds me high school textbooks. It’s a good year. The next year returns to normal, and crushes me.
In 8th grade, my mom’s insurance coverage shifts, and psychiatric issues are finally covered. I go to a psychiatrist for the first time. I have been living retrograde for about a decade. The sharp edges of grief have somewhat dulled, but the boredom of an adult living as a child has not. I extract a promise from the psychiatrist. A promise not to tell my parents, or my teachers, or the police, FBI, or anyone what I’m about to tell him. He agrees.
I tell him I’ve been transplanted back into my own life from 2018, that I should be 411 with a wife and kids, and I’ve been dealing with this alone since I was 4. He doesn’t believe me. I write him some computer code in versions of languages that don’t exist yet. I write calculus problems and polar equations that I shouldn’t understand. He thinks I’m a prodigy, but crazy.
I tell him George W. Bush will win the Presidential election. He thinks I’m guessing. I’m shouting now. I scream at him about 9/11, one year away. He’s no longer laughing. I’ve made a mistake. He thinks I’m dangerous. He thinks I am planning 9/11. I try to backpedal, to say that it’s Al Qaeda. He asks me if Al Qaeda speaks to me. I know I’ve lost him.
They put me on anti-psychotics. It kills my mood, stunts my mind, ruins my enthusiasm for everything. I’m no longer “depressed” or “acting out”, so the treatment is hailed as a success. I get regular checkups from the psychiatrist.
9/11 happens. I’m dragged into a meeting with my parents, the psychiatrist, a police officer, and two men in suits. My parents don’t understand what’s happening. They try and get me to talk, but I refuse. They have all internet traffic from my house, some of which is embarrassing, but none of which is incriminating. I demand to be taken off the drugs and allowed to return to baseline. They agree. I am under house arrest with an ankle bracelet. I can go to school and home. I don’t care; I never made friends, even my old friends from my past life were too juvenile.
A month later, a repeat of the meeting. How did I know about 9/11? I ask for a lawyer. They deny me one. I shrug and stop speaking. They get me a lawyer.
I tell my lawyer everything. He doesn’t believe me. I ask for a new lawyer.
I tell my new lawyer everything. He doesn’t believe me. I ask for a new lawyer.
I tell my new lawyer everything. She doesn’t believe me. But says she’ll work on my behalf as if she did. I agree.
We tell them nothing. The house arrest is a violation of my rights, and the Patriot Act doesn’t exist yet (barely) for them to be able to hold me on suspicion of anything. My lawyer threatens to go public. They back off.
My freshman year grades are terrible. I realize I need my grades up if I want to go to the right college to find my wife, so I double down on my school work. I go from a D average screw off to acing every class. My teachers are confused, but relieved.
It’s senior year. I apply to only one college. My parents think I’m crazy. I get in. I apply to the Honors Program. The Honors Program, where I met my wife nearly 30 years ago on my personal timeline, where I’d live in the same dorm building as her, and work late on the same engineering team as her, the time when our relationship began.
I don’t get in. My grades are too low, after tanking my freshman year. I’m going to the right college, but I can’t replicate the circumstances of our meeting.
There’s hope, but it’s a slim hope. I go to college. I know what clubs she goes to, what friends she has. I contrive to be wherever she is. I spend months in her orbit, working up to asking her out. How do you ask out someone you were with for 12 years, then lost 14 years ago, who doesn’t remember you at all? How do you approach her with the baggage of your entire relationship that she has no knowledge of?
Eventually I do it. I ask her out. She says no. I don’t understand. My entire world is crashing down around me. She is my wife, doesn’t she understand? I go crazy, it scares her and she runs away. I try to follow her, but she hits a campus safety panic button.
With my history of “mental illness”, I’m involuntarily committed. I spend a month in the asylum.
Two men in suits “visit” me one day. They say they can get me out. But, I have to tell them about 9/11. It’s the FBI agents from all those years ago. I’ve given up. I tell them everything. They get me out. I’m setup with a nice house in the middle of nowhere, a good computer, state of the art internet. And I have to keep feeding them information about the future.
In my free time, I’m a software engineering consultant. The FBI pays my expenses, so anything I make is spare money. January 2, 2009 I’ve built a GPU beast of a computer. January 3, 2009 I start mining BitCoin. I mine a lot. I mine far more than anyone expected someone could mine so early. The BitCoin economy never takes off, because no one else can get in on the early mining with normal computing hardware. “Cryptocurrency” fails before it can even get a start.
Two years later the FBI approaches me, looking for more information about the future. I’ve got nothing left; I’ve told them everything I can remember.
They kick me out, and repossess all the computers they bought me, and “appropriate as evidence” all the ones I bought myself.
I’ve got nothing left. I wander the streets of small towns, hitchhiking half-hazardly. I lay down on a park bench one night.
The next morning, I don’t get up.
1 Edit: I was 31 in 2018. I spent 10 years in the past. 10 + 31 = 41.”
#4. The important stuff.
“Make The Simpsons and put in spooky foreshadowing.”
#3. I would already know.
“Something I would do is become a producer. I would already know the best songs that would come out. I would just make a few, become a sensation, then sell he rest to other artists.”
#2. Think bigger.
“People in this thread aren’t thinking big enough, and they aren’t answering the question about taking over the world.
1990 is the perfect year to return to. I was fourteen years old, and happened to live near silicon valley, and had an interest in programming. I would have four years to master every technical aspect of the day, much of which I already know.
Initial capital would be very easy, and you could fly completely under the radar. Snag a few high profile domain names for large corporation of the day (McDonalds, Pepsi, etc), and then approach them with the offer to sell the rights fairly inexpensively, while also building the website for these brands.
The web began really gathering steam by 1995, by which time I’d be 19 years old. That bubble inflated for the next 5 years, during which time I would use the capital I generated to buy no more than 5% stock in Yahoo. Every penny would go in that direction, until I sold that stock in 2000 and invested every penny in Apple.
During this entire time, since the goal is to take over the world, I’d be creating and expanding a web security firm. I would work for banks, primarily, and would provide top notch reasonably priced security for data.
To get my foot in the door I’d offer to make their systems Y2K compliant (remember when that was a thing?). The end result is that by the time I was done I would have infiltrated every major governmental agency with a back door allowing me to pillage their data safely.
Back then no one took data security seriously, but they were more than happy to throw money at it. Money I could use to learn almost every secret in the world. This would also double as a cover for my knowledge of the future, and would make my eventual enemies think I had some sort of sophisticated behavioral model or something.
Quietly, from behind the scenes, I would insert myself into places of power. In 2001 when the trade towers hit I’d approach the white house and explain that if I’d been in charge of security none of this would ever have happened. We could have stopped it.
Once I had control over or nation’s cyberspace I would expand outwards to other nations, slowly doing the same to them, which would be easier to do with the company and wealth I’d bought. Only then would I begin my nefarious final plan for the world.
I would systematically discredit, bribe, and blackmail anyone I need to in order to enact the following:
Remove campaign financing from the election process
Modernize our country’s roads, bridges, and other infrastructure.
Modernize our manufacturing base
Setup free online universities for all students, globally, that award real degrees. This would be financed by donations, and I could cover it if needed
Create financial literacy programs in every major city, globally.
Sit back and enjoy the world I have secretly helped create.”
#1. We all have our dreams.
“Majority of these responses are investment-related. If I was my current age in 1990 I’d become an actor (knowing which shows/movies to audition for) and use my newfound fame to bang 90’s Jennifer Aniston.”