Social networking with aliens. Beginning October 9

Bebo members can participate in an election to send 500 messages to a planet 20 light years away.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

In its quest to fight Facebook for every last social networking digit and dollar, Bebo is thinking big. Very big.

The social networking site has got together with the Institute of Radio Engineering and Electronics of the Russian Academy of Science to organize for 500 messages to be beamed to a planet orbiting the star Gliese 581c.

The project's title is A Message From Earth.

Apparently the planet in question is the nearest one to earth that might have water. Which means it might have life. And, well, Bebo would be a great name for a planet, wouldn't it?

Should this all sound just the slightest bit funny to you, please pinch your mirth.

For the third partner in this very valuable scientific project is RDF Digital, a company belonging to RDF Media, the producers of, amongst other scientific programming, Wife Swap, a show that highlighted the minutiae of distant, yet intimate, interaction in a very incisive way.

Bebo is asking its members and other assorted celebrities and politicians to create messages or images that somehow "consider the planet from a fresh perspective."

The best 500, as chosen by Bebots, will be beamed by a Ukrainian radio telescope. Beaming time is estimated at four and a half hours and will occur on October 9.

Look, this could be one of the most important human events of the last five thousand years. And I am really concerned that the organizers might not have thought this through.

CC Ryan Inc

If I was the resident of a land 20 light years from our own little Haedes, why would I want to read messages from some far-off orb, messages that appear to be entirely self-centered?

There are millions and millions of people trying to secure personal favors of one kind or another on Bebo. Have these Bebots learned nothing about human interaction? Can't the producers of Wife Swap give them a little knowing nudge?

If you are trying to attract someone else's attention, especially if they are 20 light years away, you do not talk about yourself.

You might explain something about yourself in passing, but you focus on the other person, the other being, the alien object of your interest.

So wouldn't it be a little wiser for the 500 messages to say something along these lines?:

1. We know you're probably smarter than us, so please could you give us a few hints? We're so amazingly dumb down here. We're incredibly self-centered too, by the way.

2. In fact, would you be prepared to come down here for a while and, you know, do a lecture tour or something?

3. Here's some of the things we're really, really no good at: Relationships, work/life balance, helping each other, conserving energy, protecting our nasal passages, staying sober, making first-rate reality TV. Any guidance?

4. Do you guys have shrinks? If so, how's that working for you?

5. Do you guys take most of your clothes off before you jump into your water, just like we do? Do your nipples get hard when you get out?

Surely if we beam up questions such as these we might actually get some answers. And that's what social networking is all about- people communicating across space, time and purposes, exchanging information for the development of the common intelligence and communal happiness.

It's true that we might not get our answers for another 42 years (The messages are due to arrive some time in 2029.)

On the other hand, it might be less as the Planet To Be Named Bebo will surely have more sophisticated messaging equipment than an all too human lump of metal in the Ukraine.