I have been a proponent of space and space travel for years. Very few of my friends seem to share my love for stars and planets. I often wondered why. How could they not understand the thrill of worlds beyond ours? Why are the stars a taboo subject, only to be discussed amongst scientists and academics? Isn’t space just another place for humankind to visit and explore?
Where’s the PR?
Space needs marketers because it has a bad reputation. We tend to think of space as a cold, distant and lonely place. Far from our everyday lives. Watch the movies. Science Fiction movies in general trend towards ominous, political agendas that damn humankind into a bleak and unworthy existence. People in these movies or television shows tend to be militant, distant or intellectual, a far cry from your BFF next door. Then there is “space music.” Google it. Most space music is spacey, orchestric, and reminds you of something far out and distant. Who thinks about going to space?
Pop culture has taught us that space is deadly, dull and in some instances a front to God himself. Space travel is perceived as a smart man’s game. Think of any sci-fi movie seen. They all involve brilliant scientists, mathematicians and just plain ole nerds whose level of expertise is presented with a magician type eloquence. That perception is powerful because it subconsciously teaches us that space exploration isn’t for US.
Astronomy Facebook pages, while informative, reinforce negative perceptions about space. Their content consists of “important news” and “breakthroughs” from scientists who are doing nothing more than theorizing about cosmological cause and effect on massive scales about things that are not only removed from our worldview but also removed from the human experience.
I believe the Big Bang because it’s the closest thing we got to matching our present observations…NOT because I BELIEVE the Big Bang Theory. I feel gravity every day, and I don’t need science to believe it exists. I know the difference in between metal and water. I don’t need science to appreciate the difference. Science is required to understand space. Science is also necessary to comprehend how our heart beats, but science isn’t unattainable to enjoy what our heartbeat gives us. Likewise, science isn’t needed to enjoy our home, the space beyond our atmosphere, starting with our Solar System.
Our Majestic Universe?
But what do I mean by appreciation? Does this mean you should be in awe of our grand and beautiful universe? Most lovers of stars and planets believe so. There are problems with this approach. For starters, it frames the universe as a far away, unattainable, inaccessible place. It’s similar to the woman on the cover of a Glamour magazine whose primary purpose is to look unattainable.
Most of us know or don’t care how “majestic” the universe is because it makes us feel small and insignificant. I’d rather take a selfy, get 200 likes and feel like I am the universe. Or we rather are one of the guys giving our Facebook friend her hundreds of likes as opposed to looking at some random woman on a magazine cover. At least with the Facebook girl, we got a chance, we can slide in the DM, they are accessible.
Another problem with this approach is that you can make those claims and I’m at least halfway interested. What’s next? Those claims have to be backed up. People like to feel, touch, see and hear things. Well, what’s the best way to see the majesty of the universe? That’s through a telescope. How many people own a telescope? How many people plan to own a telescope? How many people have to money, desire or patience to put one together. I’d rather spend that hard earned cash on a lady friend at the bar.
Unless you’re a hardcore astronomy enthusiast, chances are, a telescope isn’t on your shopping list. I believe this barrier of entry is unnecessary. A person shouldn’t have to go to the rigorous of vetting and purchasing a telescope to see a few stars. Do you need to make a huge purchase to know the beauty of Machu Picchu, Bora Bora of French Polynesia, the Temples of Bagan in Myanmar or Clent Hills of Worcestershire? The point is that space needs marketers now, more than ever.