Wednesday, February 6, 2013
This is our planet on Facebook
by Sandra Parshall
If an alien civilization, trying to learn more about Earthlings, tapped into Facebook, what concept of our society would they take away from it?
They would have no way of knowing that even in an online community of almost a billion, humans seek out like-minded people and quickly form communities of “friends” so they can shun those with differing viewpoints and interests.
Perusing one person’s timeline, for example, our alien peeping toms might conclude that virtually every human is currently producing, in a torturous manner, something called a book. And that a certain Robert Walker has produced more books than any other person on the planet.
Looking elsewhere, they might learn that the right to own an assault weapon capable of killing dozens of living beings in seconds is the single most urgent issue facing the United States, surpassing by a long stretch such minor concerns as war, climate change, and a struggling economy.
However, the most glaringly obvious fact they would learn is that humans are obsessed with other species and go so far as to share their homes with them.
They may find many mentions of “endangered” species, but will conclude from photographic evidence that Earth is overrun with black and white bears, to the point that every human possesses one.
They might assume that this is the most beloved individual animal in the world:
But not all of its kind – called “cats” – are treasured. Indeed, it seems that the greatest threat to Earth’s delicate ecological balance is not climate change or pollution or habitat destruction, but this vicious creature -- the reviled "outdoor cat."
Further clouding the picture where cats are concerned: Despite the outdoor cat's malicious nature, gentle animals called “dogs” apparently worship any cat they can get their paws on.
By the end of a single day, those curious aliens would also know the details of thousands upon thousands of meals consumed by humans in the past few hours, most of them containing a substance known as chocolate. And if we don’t tone it down a little, they might decide to come on over and try this magical nutrient themselves.
So be careful what you post. You can’t be sure who’s out there reading it and using your whims and quirks to make a decision to invade or avoid us.