Let’s Talk About Extraterrestrials

I’ve tried this technique a few times and while the results aren’t superb, they’re good enough to share. So to explain: I like to talk about a rather narrow range of topics, and none of them are comfortable conversation topics for most company.

It’s lamentable but true that most people don’t eagerly desire to talk about our purpose in life, why we fail at things, what we truly value, why we exist at all, or what it means that we do. These are the things that really get my engine revving though, and so I struggle to enjoy most conversations.

Broaching these topics when you’ve just met someone, or never talked so intimately, is hard. It takes more perseverance than I have. But talking about extraterrestrials allows for a conversations that easily approximates one about those desirable topics but feels reasonable to broach and comfortable for people to join in on.

One of the big advantages of it is that almost no person alive today has strong and fixed opinions about aliens. About their existence, their nature or their history, almost everyone will reasonably claim ignorance. No major religion says anything about these topics, and neither does science. It’s an area where there are few bits of knowledge and few stones of belief and so we engage with it fully and don’t get sensitive if someone disagrees. Said a different way, conversation killers like “only Ron Paul can save us,” “all people are stupid and secretly racist,” or “now let me tell you how it really works” cannot be executed in such a conversation.

But we can, by proxy, discuss what it means that we humans exist at all. And why alien civilizations might be different from ours. And people’s beliefs about what aliens may do with their civilization reasonably approximate what they desire or fear for ours.

There is more than a little diversion in the technique of using talk about extraterrestrial life as a gateway to talk about our messy terrestrial stuff, but I don’t think it reaches the troubling heights of subterfuge, and so I’m publicly recommending that you try, at least once or twice, to have a conversations about aliens.