I have meant to start writing based on topics from livejournal’s writing block section, since I have had the writer’s equivalent to eating a five-pound block of cheese. So here goes:
If an alien ship were to land in your backyard and choose you as the earthly representative of humanity, what would you tell them about our world? Would you consider going back with them for a visit?
1) You will come across many sources of information purporting to be news. These include TV stations and shows, print media, and web sites. None of them actually provide an accurate representation of the actual news. They are all driven by money, profit, and viewership, and provide an output specifically formatted to drive these things. Be especially wary of any given news provider in which they or their most loyal fans say “all of the other news is bullshit; this one is actually unbiased.” You’ll generally find those news sources are the most biased and misinformed. In any case, don’t turn to any news source in an attempt to find out more about our culture or people, unless you’re trying to gauge how completely fucked our world really is.
2) Our world is divided into roughly 195 autonomous countries, of various sizes. A concept called “nationalism” divides the population by making people think the parcel of dirt where they were born somehow makes them a different or better person than people who were born in other geographical locations. This is particularly troublesome in situations where a given person leaves their country because it’s more economically feasible for them to go elsewhere to find a job or an educational institution, yet they still hold an unnatural allegiance for their previous country of residence, somehow thinking this difference makes them better than other people. This is typically manifested because the person has some deep-seated psychological weakness that requires them to find something that makes them feel superior to others when internally, they feel the opposite is true. In any case, other than artificial factors like economy or civil rights, and minor physical differences like skin tone, regardless of where a person is born, they’re still of the same species with roughly the same capabilities. (For example, none of these countries are currently underwater, in heavy zones of radioactive activity, or with altered gravity, so people are not born with mutated super-powers, although this is a common theme in works of fiction.)
3) Although the term “alien” describes individuals such as yourself from other planets, it also describes individuals from other countries. A current hot topic is aliens from other countries who immigrate to this country illegally and do not follow proper protocol for obtaining employment. Our population is currently divided among those who think all people should be able to work here legally and those who think illegal aliens should be shot on sight. So it’s best if you pretend you are a legal resident of the United States, especially if you plan to visit southern states like Texas.
4) A prime motivating factor of our current culture is the things you own; a great deal of emphasis is made on what things you purchase or acquire, rather than things you make, do, or accomplish. Be aware that in countries that have no defined social caste system, such as the United States, the population is still unofficially divided into tiers based on income, home and car purchase, and the clothing and appliances individuals choose to purchase.
5) Although our world’s scientists have logical proof of most natural processes, about 5/6th of our world’s population still believe in some mythos that explains the creation and/or maintenance of our planet by some supernatural god or higher power. These belief systems are called religions, and there are at least a dozen major religions, each with dozens of sub-divisions, based on belief and worship systems. Pretty much every religion is based on the same basic principals, and many major religions have been modeled on the belief system of other religions, causing many common threads in multiple belief systems. But because any given religion is deemed as correct by its believers, they must believe all other religions are incorrect, which causes a great deal of conflict between the planet’s inhabitants. And although over a billion people on the planet do not have any religious beliefs, the religious beliefs of others commonly dictate the workings of governmental systems.
6) At the current time, there are seven major incidents and roughly 21 minor instances where one country or group is actively trying to kill members of another country or group en masse to force the overthrow of their government system. Most of these wars are caused by simple religious differences, although many of them are economical in nature. Because of this, it’s probably best to avoid travel in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Northwest Pakistan, and parts of India and Mexico.
7) Although most Americans eat the flesh of other mammals for sustenance, many of them also domesticate small mammals such as dogs and cats for companionship. Be careful not to confuse the two and accidentally allude to eating a person’s household pets for dinner. When in doubt, if a person has an animal in their possession, try to find out of they have named said animal; if so, it’s probably a pet and not livestock intended for consumption.
8) Humans have a number of artificial forms of physical competition called sports which people either participate in or observe. One of the sports, called baseball, involves a very controversial rule called the “designated hitter rule”, in which roughly half of the American baseball teams can substitute a different offensive player for their lead defensive player, instead of using the same player for offensive and defensive situations. This rule, adopted in 1973, has slowly destroyed the game of baseball by causing specialization and removing sportsmanship. If you ever get in an argument with an individual who claims all teams should adopt the designated hitting rule, you can typically argue with them that their favorite team merely purchased their last several World Series titles with their excessive payroll and/or that their players were artificially enhancing their physical characteristics by medical means such as steroids, and in most cases, you’d be correct.
9) In California, unless marked, you can make a right turn on red. Please don’t sit there waiting for the green light like every other alien in this state; I’ve got to get to work, you fuckers.
10) Almost every one of the six billion people on this planet thinks they are the center of the universe. If you could do anything that would convince them otherwise while you’re here, that would be great.
Lastly, anything I didn’t cover can probably be found at wikipedia.org.
And I might be willing to go back with you for a visit, but I’d like to find out more about your food before I leave. Last time I left the country, I drank the water and got horribly sick. But if you have one of those food replicator devices that can create something that agrees with my intestinal tract, just give me an hour to pack and load up my Kindle with a couple of books for the trip, and I’m ready to roll.