I was reading an article about the size of the universe and apparently, it is a quadrillion times the size of anything we can imagine. The author Bill Bryson says that if a galaxy like the Milky Way was the size of a pea, the universe is the size of an auditorium filled with those peas.
So in light of how ridiculously vast the universe is, I cannot figure out why we waste our time debating whether or not there is life on other planets. Of course there is. We can’t possibly be that special. We can’t be the only planet in the sea of peas that happens to have creatures on it.
Therefore, I’d like to change the focus of the scientific debate. I would like to shift it away from asking “is there life on other planets?” and raise a new, more interesting question: “If there are aliens zipping around out there in the universe, is their world as painfully annoying as ours is?”
For example, is there an alien somewhere out there who has to get up for work on a rainy Monday morning?
Will she sit in spaceship traffic for an hour, or ride a miserable alien shuttle bus to a city full of annoying aliens?
Will she get stuck sitting next to another alien who won’t stop talking?
Does that alien sit in a windowless cubicle and spend her days wishing she was somewhere else?
Does she count down the minutes to the weekend?
Do alien men snore?
Do alien men get yellow armpit stains on their undershirts?
Do alien women get really frustrated with alien men because they can’t seem to communicate? (Maybe all aliens are men and that’s why they haven’t communicated with us yet…)
One day in the distant future, we might land our own spacecraft on another planet and discover a new world teeming with life. But when we step outside, there might not be any fanfare, no band playing or fireworks welcoming us.
Instead, we might be accosted by an alien meter maid who raises her antenna and says “Excuuuuse me. You can’t park that piece of junk here!”
And then we’ll finally know the answer to our question: our world might be really annoying but everyone else’s is too.
A few days ago, I was sorting through old papers in a drawer, the kind you keep for years because you’re convinced the obscure barcodes or customer numbers yield top secret information about your life. As I ripped them up, I started thinking “You know, if someone goes to the trouble to rifle through the garbage, tape together the millions of little pieces of paper, and steal my identity, they get what they deserve.”
Soon after becoming me, a thief would have an array of lovely experiences to look forward to! He would receive lengthy voicemails from my mother on his answering machine, surprise visits from my drunken ex-boyfriends, and emails from weirdos saying things like “Your book made my girlfriend break up with me so I plan to find you and punish you.” Eventually, the greasy guy from my high school gym class would locate him on Facebook, my Born-Again Aunt would bombard him with Bibles, and the CVS automated pharmacy system would call him in the middle of the night to thank him for his customer loyalty. I predict that it would take about six weeks for the thief to lose his mind, contact me, and beg me to take my identity back. But by then, there won’t be much I can do. My mother will already be on a bus on her way to visit him.
We all need to try to protect ourselves from identity theft through the standard means recommended by experts everywhere (see article link below). But the best protection of all is having an identity that no thief in his right mind would want to steal. When a thief says to his buddies, “No amount of money is worth being that chick for a day, man,” you can sleep at night knowing your shredded bills will make it to the landfill without incident. Copyright © 2009 Alison James
These days, personal privacy is a thing of the past. With a few clicks of a mouse and some creative lunchtime cyber-stalking skills, we can learn all about other people’s lives. We can find out if our ex got married, what his trampy new wife looks like, and whether or not her parents have money. We can read about old coworkers, get dirt on new ones, and see satellite images of people’s houses.
And if we have specific questions like “Will I really have bad luck for ten years if I don’t forward the latest spam email from my Mom to at least ten people?” or “Do I really have an Uncle in Nigeria who left me a million dollars?” or ”Does Shamwow really work?” we can find those answers online as well.
But I have a double standard when it comes to search engine snooping. I can’t stand the fact that my own information is so accessible to other people even though I love looking at theirs. One day I put my name into Google and up came an Amazon Wish List I created ten years ago, probably in an attempt to get some guy I was dating at the time to buy me a birthday present I really like. Fortunately, the list only had on it “Songs of the 70s compilation” and a few other random items. But imagine if it listed personal lubricant, handcuffs, and a wrench. Is that really public information? My Dad is one of those old people who doesn’t use the internet, but his friends who do know more about my life than he does.
Nevertheless, we don’t get to choose whether or not our life story is public information anymore. The end of privacy is a natural byproduct of the digital age and there isn’t much we can do about it. We just have to be a little more cautious, keep the bad photos out of the wrong hands, and make peace with the fact that some day someone might discover that we are a long-time member of imsohairyicouldscream.com. Copyright © 2009 Alison James