"I Would Love To Be Friends With An Alien!"

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 14.472% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

Jim Hines brought my attention to this quote from someone in science-fiction fandom:

Instead of insulting us, [Hines] could be using whatever influence he has in social media to help recruit more people of color into our circles. They need to know they’d probably be much more welcome here than they might be elsewhere. (After all, many of us would love to befriend extra terrestrials or anthromorphs.)

Many of these guys would love to befriend an alien… in the abstract. But I’m pretty sure that if we did meet aliens, they’d be, well, alien.  They wouldn’t understand humans all that well.  They’d arrive from an entirely different culture, one they’d consider to be the “default” culture that all sentient beings follow in their heart of hearts, and they’d make constant mistakes.  You’d get invited to the alien’s house, and they’d forget, oh hey, you eat chicken strips and not cans of semi-sentient slime.
Man, that’s so messed up that you eat dead chickens, the aliens would say.  Why would you do that?  Why aren’t you drinking our slime?  Hey, check it out, this guy eats dead chickens – do you just snap their necks and gnaw on the bodies? 
You don’t?  Crazy.  Anyway, all we got is slime, so here, we put some ice in it.  You humans all love ice.
And the aliens would be thrilled, showing you around to all their friends, because you’re their proof that they’ve got a human friend.  You have the vague feeling that they really don’t give a crap about you per se, you could be any human, but they’re very happy to show you off like you’re some kind of prize they won when you go to their alien parties.
And when the aliens are a little tipsy on their slime-drinks, they make comments.  They high-seven each other and talk about how great it is that we helped you.  Because you guys – you’re always “you guys” – never did invent intergalactic space travel.  We had to give it to you.  Oh, yeah, I’m sure you would have gotten there eventually!  But it’s good to help the races that just don’t put it together as fast.  You folks were pretty much stewing to death in your wars and garbage and whatnot, and, I mean, wow, you sure like killing each other.
“I never killed anyone,” you’d protest.
Your people do, though, they’d say, and you’d have this discomforting feeling like there’s no distinction between you and everyone else like you.
And at parties, some of the aliens would dress up like you, putting on a comically oversized Texan hat and dancing Gangnam Style and putting on that big, swinging foam genitalia they think is so hysterical because they all reproduce asexually and eyew sex, and they’d wander around mashing your whole culture into one discrete wad, and they’d laugh because you humans have so much of interest to tell us.  And their stories would all feature humans as a stock figure of The Race That Didn’t Really Want It, a bunch of backwards hicks who were so caught up in strangling each other they never thought to look to the stars, either the tragic figure who had to be killed to make way for progress or the goggle-eyed comic figure who wandered around Jar Jar Binks-style, astounded by all their magical inventions.
And after a while, you might stop coming to the parties, because the slime-drinks weren’t any good and their movies made fun of you and the aliens kept getting drunk and touching your junk because oh my elders, is that how you reproduce, lemme see that!  And when you complained, they assured you that you were making too big a deal of things, those were just jokes, and these were just movies, they didn’t think that way about you, come on.  We love you guys.  We love you.  Just stick around.
You might stop attending those wild alien parties.  And the aliens would talk among themselves, trying to figure out why the humans were staying away.  We were friendly! they’d cry.  We bought them chicken strips! 
What’s wrong with them, that they don’t show up? 


  1. Purji
    Dec 5, 2013

    This post is like an arrow to the heart.
    The quote referenced makes me want to stab that person in the eye with a hot french fry. What in all the world does “getting along with people with different melanin content and not mocking their culture” vs. “we want to meet aliens!” have in common? Why would that person think that was remotely close? I am simply baffled and sad.
    That quote is why humanity cannot have nice things.

  2. Gaie Sebold
    Dec 17, 2013

    This is just glorious. Seriously. I kind of want to write stories set in this universe now. Actually, scratch ‘kind of.’
    Please Mr Steinmetz may I steal this, some time when I’m not squishnosed against a deadline?

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