What if aliens (the extraterrestrial type, not the illegal border-crossing type) received information that some wacky Earthlings were planning to storm Area 51 and discover some of the secrets of their existence?
They would likely start to learn all they could about the mission and the people who were planning it. So the place they would go would be social media. Not the best place to find intelligent life, but, hey, those are the folks they need to keep an eye on.
The first conclusion the aliens would come to, without even having to tap into the recesses of their vastly advanced brains, is that these people are no real threat. They type and click, they don’t do. “Nothing to worry about; abort mission,” would be the message they send back to home base.
But while they were here, just for amusement, they would do a quick study of these strange Earth creatures by continuing to scan this site that’s called Facebook. They decide to make a few observations based on a sample of recent posts:
• It’s common for people on Facebook to come across as being kind and generous on the surface, but they are actually being demanding and trying to elicit gossip. For example: “Urgent prayer request. No questions. Just pray!” And the flock of followers, en masse, begin to post “Praying” with multiple exclamation marks or in all caps. Apparently, humans can type with their eyes closed while asking God for something that they’re not sure what it is. We higher life forms need more information before we go asking our spiritual leader to intercede on behalf of another. What if their prayer request is for someone else to die? Or for world domination? Or for a new Corvette? Or, heaven forbid, for the Patriots and Red Sox to win?
• All political posts are undeniably partisan. There appears to be no possibility for healthy debates or an exchange of ideas. Gun control, illegal aliens (we need to keep a low profile, guys), abortion, climate change, impeachment and the no-call on the blatant pass interference against the Saints in the NFC Championship game appear to be the topics that get them riled up the most. There appear to be two distinct groups whose interpretation of the complex, nuanced business of politics and government can be summed up simply: “Trump good,” “Trump bad,” “Biden bad” and “Pelosi bad.” All of those groups post partial statements and sometimes out-of-context, edited pundits to support the beliefs they already hold — then share them with their group of like-minded people — instead of trying to learn where the other side is coming from. If someone dares broach an opposing opinion, that poster is attacked with all of the vitriol and vengeance that a keyboard can unleash. This appears useless and a waste of time.
• Everybody on Facebook appears to have children who are high-achieving, generous and just about perfect. Parents put every detail of their lives out there with great photos to show their daily doings and a brief commentary … until their sweet child’s picture shows up in the jail docket. Then there’s no explanation or acknowledgement. These humans tend to create a highlight reel and discard the things they don’t want to discuss. The tactic appears to work because no one in their group of “friends” mentions the arrest or the divorce or other misdeeds. Only a few cryptic “praying for you” and “sent you an inbox” messages show that something may be going on … but soon enough, there will be another happy family photo, complete with bonus closeups of the meal.
• On the other end of the spectrum, there are the families who put their entire dysfunction out there for everyone to see. This is usually years after that “wonderful” child becomes an adult and somehow becomes a “horrible leech” on the family. It seems to us that turnabout is fair play. After all, mom leeched off him early on to gain attention for herself.
• It seems that there are vast multi-level marketing schemes going on, from individuals and business, large and small. They show their before-and-after pictures to get their “friends” to buy an over-priced common product, then they all rave about the “amazing” results … all in an effort to sell the product but, more important, to get others selling it, too.
•This Facebook and Google seem to be watching everything we do online. When vacation spots are searched — and, unfortunately, when very personal problems are researched — those items begin to pop up in newsfeeds and every time we log on. Also, we’re curious how this human species continues to propagate if so many of its males are suffering from a condition that prevents them from popping up. And then there’s this latest thing about curved things?
• There appear to be many inconsistencies in human thought patterns, as evidenced by what passes for “debate” or “discussion” on this vast site. People who smoke filtered, tobacco-filled cigarettes are vilified for destroying their health and the health of those around them while those who smoke unfiltered, marijuana-filled cigarettes are celebrated for taking steps to improve their health. Also, those who post “doom-and-gloom” scenarios about global warming and other environmental issues say, “It’s science. You can’t argue with science!” Yet these same people believe that two X chromosomes doesn’t necessarily mean someone is female and an X and Y chromosome doesn’t necessarily mean someone is male if they happen to “feel” different. That’s accepted and even celebrated in their circles, though it is definitely “arguing with science.”
• A quick cross-reference shows that people whose news feed is filled with motivational and spiritual memes are most likely to have recent arrests on their record.
OK, we’ve seen enough. Let’s go back to our planet. Quick!
Mark Thornton is editor-in-chief of the Leader-Call. Email him at email@example.com.