Saturday, February 25, 2012

I Am Not A Weirdo.

If you follow me on twitter (and if you don't, why don't you? You're missing out on important stuff, like my love/hate relationship with Glee and stuff my cousin breaks when she comes over), then you already probably know what this post is going to be about. UFOs.

Now, I know that I come off as an entirely sane and reasonable person, the very paragon of rationality, some might say. It's my curse. Lurking beneath this absolutely normal facade is a person who has serious doubts about the date of Elvis's death, whether or not the moon landing was real, and a firm belief in the Chupacabra. Not all people can come along on a ride that, even to me, appears to be a one-way trip through looney land. But what I don't get is the looming double standard that exists when you talk about these things to people.

As I mused last week, upon ye olde twitter, when you tell someone you believe in ghosts, they'll usually believe you. A lot of people will feel free to tell you about the ghost they saw, or some strange noises or creepy feelings they had in the house they grew up in. Occasionally, you'll have the random dick who's like, "Pfff, I don't believe in ghosts or anything supernatural and that makes me way smarter than you are." I have an intense dislike for those people.

Anyway, why is it that you can say you believe in ghosts all day long, but the second you're like, "I saw a UFO," people think you're one roll of tinfoil away from being that UFO guy on the bus with the briefcase covered in anti-government bumper stickers, handing out all kinds of crazy pamphlets? What an insane double standard! I'm just going to let you read the two following statements, and at the end, you tell me which one sounds more insane:

"Last night, around midnight, I got up to use the bathroom down the hall from my bedroom. When I opened my bedroom door, I saw a hazy, full-body apparition. It floated there for a moment and disappeared. I am certain that this was the disembodied soul or spirit energy of a person who died a very long time ago."

"Last night, around midnight, I was driving down a deserted country road. Suddenly, lights appeared in the sky. The object was not a plane, but clearly a vehicle of some kind. It floated there for a moment and disappeared. I am certain that this was a visit by living beings from a planet too far from our own for us to have any knowledge of, based on our limited technology."

Seriously, which one of those statements seems more likely to be true? That someone dead is somehow projecting their consciousness into the living world for no other clear purpose than to freak us out, or that there is a species out there in the vastness of our universe- that we have not yet begun to explore- that happens to breeze by every so often for some reason?

To be clear, I'm not saying it's stupid to believe in ghosts. I just think it's bizarre that more people seem comfortable with the idea of the dead still walking the Earth than the possibility of something unearthly visiting us.

When I twittered this question, one of my followers, Lyndsay, hypothesized that it's because as humans, we're uncomfortable with the idea of other beings in the universe. Not because we're afraid of them, necessarily, but because we're selfish and would prefer to believe that the universe literally revolves around us. We want to be the only heroes in the cosmic story, so to speak. The writer I mentor told me that she believes we're a science experiment, or that the aliens are just keeping tabs on us, waiting for us to reach some point in our development as a species before making first contact. I'm not sure that's not more of the same, "We're really important," belief getting caught up in the process of figuring out why aliens would visit us. I'm more of a mind that maybe aliens breeze by here on long trips to break the monotony, or because their ships can get fuel from our atmosphere, or because they're bored and have to take a leak. In all the universe, we are, at best, an alligator farm attraction on the side of a real long, deserted stretch of two-lane Georgia highway.

I believe in UFOs. In fact, I will go so far as to publicly admit that I've seen one. It was back in the 90's, either '94 or '95. I was in the car with my best friend and her parents, coming back from their family Christmas in Coldwater, MI. We were nearly home when we saw it, a low, impossibly bright light just above the trees. There wasn't a lot of snow on the ground, but there was a lot of fog in the air, so what we saw was a light basically as bright as looking directly into a halogen headlamp on a new car. The light seemed to skim along in a straight line, then suddenly disappear and reappear further back on its track. Years later, I think it must have been a literal "flying saucer" with a circular rotation, and the disappearance/reappearance of the light had to do with the ship making revolutions. It followed the road for about five minutes, then it was gone.

We were incredibly freaked out, even the adults in the car, who at first tried to assure us it was probably just a plane. They quickly gave that up, though, and all the talk in the vehicle immediately turned to aliens.

I can't imagine why our how aliens would find us important. I don't think they're going to come to us and bring us some amazing message of intergalactic peace. But I do know one thing: if a body can walk around saying they believe that dead people just randomly pop up all see-through and blue, then it's not such a stretch of the imagination, I think, to say that somewhere, far beyond the reach of our technology, whole civilizations are thriving and exploring space, much in the same way we're attempting to.

Also, Doctor Who is based on a true story, Big Foots are real and freely roaming British Columbia, and JFK was taken out by the KGB.

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