Attention cosmo-cowboys who think rocketing themselves into outer space will take away their suffering: It won’t. Variety recently published an excerpt from William Shatner’s upcoming memoir Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder, and Captain Kirk’s verdict is in: Space makes you sad. In Shatner’s case, it was “among the strongest feelings of grief [he has] ever encountered.”
I, a permanent Earth dweller, have always believed this to be true. I’ve often imagined the horror of looking out at Earth beneath me and fully understanding how insignificant my little life as a blogger is. “All I saw was death,” Shatner writes of riding on Bezos’ rocket. “My trip to space was supposed to be a celebration; instead, it felt like a funeral.” The whole essay reads like a middle school diary entry, the most honest and dire genre to exist.
Despite billionaires like Jeff Bezos calling his trip to space “the best day ever,” or lowly millionaire (humiliating) Tom Cruise teasing a movie filmed on the International Space Station, a trip to space is not a rock-and-roll adventure. Instead, it is a Mount Eerie album: depressing, isolating, and bleak. Sure, moving through zero gravity would be neat to experience, but when you go to space, your sense of self completely bottoms out, too. I’m sure there’s a theme park on the edge of your town’s warehouse district where you can pay $119 to feel like you’re floating, or whatever.
Elon Musk has made inane promises of creating a colony on Mars. Bezos shares this vision. Richard Branson charges almost half a million dollars for civilians to drag race around the moon. Like many people, I’ve been skeptical of the billionaire boys club’s dick-measuring rocket race. There are a lot of problems to address on this side of the ozone layer, many a result of said billionaires’ bad behavior, before we go gallivanting outside of it. More pressingly, why on earth (heh) would we trust what these mega-billionaires consider fun? They are miserable men who only know how to exploit people, throw money at problems, and lie. Perhaps, for them, space isn’t sad, because, in comparison to Earth, where they’ve isolated themselves from real human connection, it is at least a fun little trip. Everyone loves a fun little trip. But don’t let their distorted perspective fool you. Space is the saddest frontier!
The regular person is more like Shatner than Musk, Bezos, or Branson. We’re even more like Shatner than Tom Cruise, if not only financially, then for the fact that we can’t do backflips. Going to space is not awesome. Going to space is not the future. Going to space will make you sad. It will make you feel insignificant and lonely. Stick to doing your little affirmations and mental health walks here on Earth. Those will alleviate your problems much more effectively than colonizing Mars. In the meantime, we should let the billionaires launch themselves into the cosmos and let them discover the depths of their own depression.