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Social Media, Space Aliens, and The End Of The World

As we near 2012 (December 21, 2012 to be exact), we’re certainly going to be hearing more and more about the end of the world drawing near (remember the Y2K madness?). There exist many different theories on how the world will actually end. Many believe the prophecies by the ancient Mayans whose "astronomically precise" calendar supposedly terminates on that date. Others believe the end will come in the form of deadly radiation from sun storms, while still others believe it will be the Armageddon predicted in the book of Revelations that will do us in.

Recently, I came across the great song “Pets” by Porno for Pyros on my ipod. The song makes the claim that: “we're like the dinosaurs, only we are doing ourselves in much faster than they ever did.” The song goes on to ask: “Will there be another race to come along and take over for us? Maybe martians could do better than we've done?” And at that moment, a thought occurred to me: What if that’s how the world ends? Space aliens with superior intelligence alight on Earth, numb our brains and make us their slaves (pets)?

I then recalled the 1996 film, “Independence Day” - same premise, right? Evil space aliens try to take over Earth but we devise a strategy, fight back and take back the planet (thank you, Will Smith!). So why would aliens suddenly think they could come back and successfully take over Earth in 2012? Surely, the end result would be the same…right? But then I started to think about the world today and a shiver ran down my spine. I slowly began to realize that the world as we know it has been considerably dumbed down since 1996; before Lil Wayne, Jersey Shore, & social media. I came to the chilling conclusion that we are, indeed, ripe for an alien takeover! Here are my top reasons:

POPULAR MUSIC Have you listened to the songs on the radio lately? My 13-year-old daughter (who controls the car radio) tortures me every time we ride in the car together. Whatever happened to the great hit songwriters/bands of decades past? Billy Joel, Phil Collins, Simple Minds, Sting, R.E.M., Lionel Ritchie, Smashing Pumpkins, Prince – can’t anybody write a decent song anymore? Today’s popular music makes the output of bands like The Bangles, Flock Of Seagulls, & Hall & Oates seem like slivers of genius. Rap music has been the biggest offender. The lyrically-clever, socially conscious hip-hop of Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Public Enemy, KRS-One, Ice Cube, and many others of a generation ago has given way to the dumbed down lyrics of Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, & Drake. Why? The aliens are controlling the radio waves!

TELEVISION Need much be said here? Sure, there are still plenty of good shows on TV but if you spend enough time flicking through the many cable channels, your brain might go numb with the stream of self-absorbed, shallow, and shameless characters running rampant on reality TV shows (checked out the offerings from Bravo recently?). The message? Party, have fun, get laid, get paid, be stupid…very stupid. What’s happening? Aliens have already taken human form and are masquerading amongst us in the forms of Snooki, Paris Hilton, the Kardashians, & the Real Housewives!

THE ENVIRONMENT With reports of a looming global oil shortage, warnings of rapidly diminishing drinking water supplies, rising air pollution levels, global warming causing a potentially catastrophic rise in our sea levels, the still unknown environmental impact to our oceans by the dumping of chemical waste and oil spills - is it any wonder that Mother Nature is pissed off? She’s returned fire with an arsenal of deadly earthquakes, tsunamis, & cyclones leaving hundreds of thousands dead in her wake. It appears that over the past few decades, her patience has grown short; she’s grown tired of our repeated violations of her. I’m certain that the aliens are aware that if they don’t act soon, there may not be much of a planet left for them to inhabit.

THE ECONOMY Unemployment rates are at record highs and close to two million people face the prospect of running out of benefits in the coming months. A recent study by John Burns Real Estate Consulting Inc., estimates that a staggering five million houses and condominiums will go through foreclosure over the next few years. One out of every six Americans is now enrolled in at least one anti-poverty program run by the federal government. And we’re not alone. Most of Europe is also in the middle of a debt crisis; having fallen victim to their own credit-driven housing boom. We’re bruised and beaten; morale is low; our fighting spirit is waning. In Sun-Tzu’s “The Art of War” he states that, “The best victory is when the opponent surrenders of its own accord”. If there ever was a time for an alien takeover, this is it!

SOCIAL MEDIA How could one of the greatest cultural phenomenons in the history of the world be making us stupid? When Lady Gaga has more than three times the following of Bill Gates on twitter, you really have to ask? Social media has created the perfect medium for distraction. It’s noisy – and the more people who get on twitter & facebook – the more noisier it gets. Information flashes by our timelines in the blink of an eye; links to blog posts that promise to show us “How To Monetize Your Blog”, idiotic proclamations such as “Marketing is dead!”, FarmVille, Mafia Wars, TEDx (ideas worth spreading?), graphs showing dramatic shifts in traditional business paradigms, online “influence” (who has it and how to get it!), SEO, ROI, klout, thought leaders, Tribes…lions, tigers, & bears, oh my!

In Orrin Edgar Klapp's 1986 book, “Overload and Boredom: Essays on the Quality of Life in the Information Society”, Klapp contends that “constant inundation with information has led to nothing less than the attrition of meaning.” Redundancy and noise, Klapp asserts, have replaced resonance and variety in the modern world (Pssst! This was in 1986!). Moreover, the pioneering neuroscientist Michael Merzenich, who in the 1970s and 1980s, conducted a famous series of experiments on primate brains, believes that our brains are being “massively remodeled” by the constant distractions and interruptions the internet bombards us with. The long-term effect on the quality of our intellectual lives, he said, could be “deadly”! Ouch.

The endless stream of information has made us believe we know more than we really do (“How to Become a Thought Leader in Six Steps”) and that we’re better than we really are (klout score). I fear that when the space aliens finally do arrive, many in our society will undoubtedly think the aliens have come to “engage” with us; to begin a “conversation”. They’ll baffle us with their über-advanced communication tools (oh, what amazing apps they must have!); they’ll begin to "build trust" with a pimped-out facebook fan page, their following on twitter will render obsolete the likes of Lady Gaga, Ashton Kutcher & Britney Spears; self-proclaimed “thought leaders” will flee the internet and burn their books – shamed by the superior intelligence of the aliens. The tabloids will be abuzz with reports of aliens partying with the cast of “Jersey Shore” at The Beachcomber in Seaside Heights, NJ. And before we know what hit us…well, let’s just say our fate will be decided in less time than it took the British to subdue the army of Zanzibar in 1896.

Maybe martians can do better than we’ve done. Perhaps, they’ll come to show us the error of our ways, to warn us of our own impending doom if we don’t smarten up.  Then, after a while, return to their planet and leave us a better, smarter people. Whatever happens, one thing’s for sure – we’d make great pets.

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