I am severely lacking in perspective

**This is the first part in a potentially twelve part series which explores everything about the world we live in. Literally, everything.**

When I was young, probably around five or six, my class went on a field trip to a planetarium.

It was pretty actually pretty boring. However, that does not mean that now, over a decade later, I can’t retrospectively look back and realize a revelation that speaks not only to my concept of self, but also society at large.

A few minutes into the movie the narrator mentioned the inevitability of the destruction of our solar system. He plainly stated that eventually the sun will explode (or implode, one of the two) and everything (including us) will be sucked up into the ensuing tumult, or something. He also said that this would happen in about five or six billion years. This scared the shit out of me.

As a six year old, I had no concept of what six billion years meant. I knew on an intellectual level (if a six year can even have an intellectual level) that I would not be around in six billion years. However, this understanding posed a problem. It forced me to ponder two dark, disturbing scenarios. I could envision that I would not be around for the destruction of the planet; that I would be long dead before things went south. This is incredibly morbid, especially for a six year old.

So, I envisioned the alternative. I imagined that I somehow defied the odds and lived to six billion and saw the end of times. Needless to say, I was thankful my parents had taught me bladder control a couple years earlier. My time at the planetarium was so frightening and jarring that I have not been back since.

Why would I choose a scenario in which I stick around to see the Earth swallowed by the sun? The alternative was much more pleasant. Because the “happy” scenario required me to alter my perspective, and I didn’t want to. I know what you’re thinking: You were six, how can you reasonably expect someone that young to have perspective? I am much older now and I would argue (not proudly) that I still lack perspective.

The other day I was with several old friends from high school.  We were reminiscing about girls we went to high school with. The conversation eventually led to which girls we would most be interested in marrying. Obviously, everything discussed was purely hypothetical as none of us intended on actually proposing. But the conversations were at least semi-serious. We all used logic and reasoning in reaching our decisions. This, too, represents a total lack of perspective. We were discussing the prospect of spending the rest of our lives with girls we knew relatively briefly a couple of years ago. That is pretty insane.

I know what you’re thinking: Well, you guys are obviously fucking idiots. That’s only partially true. Are a lot of us fucking idiots? Yeah. I’d say that’s fair. But, this sort of behavior is not unique to us. We just sat around and talked about getting married. People in their early twenties get married all the time. That’s much more stupid. If a couple marries at twenty and the average life expectancy is about seventy-five, they are essentially pledging to spend the next fifty-five years together. That is over twice as long as the entirety of their existence. Just like six year old me, they made intellectual concessions to make themselves more comfortable.

In truth, they have as much understanding of fifty-five years as I had of six billion; both lengths are beyond comprehension. In ignoring this lack of understanding, they acted just as I did. They choose to ignore their ignorance and decide to get married anyway.

As a general rule, people who comment on events with responses such as, “That’s what’s wrong with America” are fucking morons. However, this lack of perspective is what’s wrong with America. It’s why television news programs suck. It’s why Twitter is incredibly popular. It’s why divorce rates are at fifty percent. It’s why we lead the world in anxiety and depression medication. It’s why we produce artists who piss and moan and lament. It’s why people stand around at parties, shake their head and say, “That’s what’s wrong with America.”

There is nothing wrong with America. There is something wrong with us.


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