Buying and selling feels: a new market for emotions

If feelings start to get consumed like media, we might start to treat them like media, too. For starters, we might start buying, selling, and trading bootleg copies of them, as player Emily speculates:

Shadow imagination card reads: People could make rip off FeelThat products and sell them. #OHSSpeaks

Would we start to trade knock-off feelings, or design a whole bunch of different feeling devices for better experiences?

If feels were like music, or movies, or other media, we’d probably also be on the lookout for super rare feels…if you really had the talent, could you get a pine tree to share its feels with you? Would we start to discover the existence of “feeling whisperers,” people who could coax a feeling out of anything – even a piece of pizza?! Or would we see a new group of “feeling explorers,” who would travel to the ends of the earth to capture the strangest and wildest emotions?

If feels became media, we might also start seeing people turn to this as a new source of income, a new set of skills to develop, or a potential career pathPlayer Pablo Barber thinks so:

Positive imagination card reads: Like actors or voice actors, there could be feel actors; people that record feelings for movies and video games #prepaibero

We might start practicing our emoting skills at a young age so we could produce a really, really pure joy, a unique confusion, or a balanced bittersweet sadness – and fetch a higher price for it.

Or maybe, in a darker direction, AI and automation would change the kinds of work that humans do – and emotions would become one of our last remaining advantages over software. Player Maria Eugenia takes us there:

Shadow imagination card reads: @sarahashields @lmsmiddle #FeelThatShadow is an era of commodification of feelings. AI steal your job you sell your feelings.

Finally, we can’t talk about media without talking about advertising! Advertisers are already diving deep into the new science of emotions, in order to bypass our rational thoughts and appeal to our impulses more directly. Neuromarketing is a field that has been around for only a few decades. It promises to integrate new understandings of emotions from neuroscience, with things like facial coding that tracks the microexpressions on your face, and fold them into advertising.  Player Julia forecasts – and I agree – that advertisements could be juiced up by incorporating feelings into them.

Shadow imagination: Advertisements, which plague our everyday life, could benefit from FT by projecting the desired emotions among people to reel them in.

Maybe this would lead to the rise of “feel blocking” software, modeled after ad blockers!

Kids and feels: some pros and cons

It’s the year 2026 and young people across the country are sharing feelings with their friends, teachers, and families. Players are building a rich set of forecasts and provocative questions about what this might mean for our relationships with one another, especially across generations.

Player Little Sunflower writes that this would be a fantastic tool for helping kids communicate with their parents, without having to talk about difficult feelings.

Positive Imagination card that reads: "This could help parents understand their kids better instead of kids going "You just don't get me" #Tipton284.  “Parents could understand teenagers and help them feel more comfortable in their skin,” adds player shirin r.

But would this technology be appropriate for kids? And who would decide? We know that every new technology causes concern when it’s being used by youth, from comic books in the 1950s, to television since the 1960s, to VR in the foreseeable future. When it comes to sharing feelings, Player kak101 thinks we might need to consider some age limits.

Shadow Imagination card that reads: age limit for sure, maybe even 25 as that is when the brain is fully developed #REA If we limit the technology to older people, however, we’ll miss out on the incredible possibilities for deeper understanding across generations – even for babies, who don’t yet have the power of words to express their feelings. One of the earliest Big Builds in the game has been around using this new tool to help parents understand newborns.

Positive Imagination card reads: Understand when your newborn is upset #mentalhealth

We are already starting to see baby wearables today – smart socks like the Owlet that keep an eye on your baby’s sleep during the night, and connected onesies like the Mimo that track respiration patterns, sleep activity, skin temperature and body position. It seems likely that if we had the technology to translate baby feelings, parents would definitely want to use it.

We have never felt babies’ feelings – or at least, not since we were babies, and we don’t remember that. Would we have to come up with a whole new way of making sense of baby emotions? That’s the question that player shirin r asks:

Investigate card reads: What if the baby's thoughts are all jumbled. Like if we could not understand the feelings because we do not know how to react to themFrom parents understanding their teens better, to brand new interpretations of the mysterious world of babies, it’s clear that increased visibility into one another’s emotions would transform the way we connect across different age groups.