Media provides a false sense of human worth on Earth
April 6, 2007
Then again, does any of it really matter? I mean, you could try your best to end a war across the world; argue with your competing ethics about free-market economies until you ran out of breath. You could stand on your soapbox and try to tell the world what it needs. But what will that prove?
If there’s anything our information- saturated, media-obsessed culture has taught us, it’s that it’s impossible to keep up with the constant barrage of triumphs, tragedies and endless statistics that make up every day life. The world moves so fast, the macro and the micro weaving their intricate systems of cause and effect in more ways than the human mind can fathom, and at greater speeds than ever before. Initially, the torrent overwhelmed us. Today, this saturation has given many humans a false sense of worth in the grand scheme of things.
For instance, we now know that our species is at least partially responsible for a massive climate change occurring across the globe; one that may drastically change the living conditions of our world.
Though I’m sorry to say, for those of you rooting for it, human beings cannot destroy the planet earth.
True, we may very well eliminate our own species (and this is, I suppose, a valid argument for accepting and dealing with global warming; but beside the point).
Earth has seen much higher, and lower, average temperatures and levels of carbon dioxide. Its natural systems have regenerative abilities that rival anything man-made. Make no mistake; Earth, and the life on it, will press on, even if humans don’t.
Yet, we still vote to reinforce political systems with delusions of grandeur. We still take jobs to support ourselves through it all, believing that somehow our forty-hour weeks will matter in some tangible way. Every day, people are born, people die, they fall in love, they create, destroy, stand up, back down, even evolve. But what does it get us? Freedom? Power? Significance?
Imagine for a moment how many people know you right now. Then imagine how many will know you when you die. What about 100 years after your death? How about 1000 years from now? Will anyone remember your name or your accomplishments? Will any member of your species even exist in one million years?
Keep in mind, the earth is 4.6 billion years old, and many say there’s a few billion left to go. Homo sapiens, including our closest genetic ancestors, take up only a few millimeters on that timeline.
Finally, if that doesn’t squash your self-importance, think about the Universe.
Do you feel small yet? You should, because it’s true. You are, literally, a microscopic dot on a planet that is a dot in a galaxy that is a dot in some huge, unlimited chaos of existence.
Next to the big picture, nobody really matters; we’re just made to think we do. If you can’t accept that, and you’re hell-bent on your life holding some cosmic significance, it’s liable to distort your priorities. If you place important on trivial, you might miss out on what’s really important in your insignificant little life. I mean, if this sliver of consciousness is all you get, and you’re going to die anyway – no matter how hard you try not to – why not just relax and smile and try to enjoy every second of it?
Tyler Liedman is a student at UW-River Falls.