— The Long Now Foundation (@longnow) January 21, 2019
I like what I know about the Long Now Foundation (because I read Neal Stephenson’s novel “Anathem” and then read about its background and thought all of that was really cool) and I definitely consider the sense of time imparted by the study of cosmology or geology or evolutionary biology to be wondrous and even potentially useful — if applied in certain ways.
But stripped of their context, as they so often are in tweets like this and in countless other places I’ve seen them, these reminders (about how recent, puny, insignificant, etc., we are) just seem like some kind of masochistic fetish. After all, you can’t live day to day with your insignificance actually sitting there in the forefront of your mind, and there’s also something messed up about how this comes off as an attack on the (also very real) grandeur of human accomplishment and potential.
I could be wrong but I think there’s also a correlation between the types of people who post this kind of stuff and left-wing political ideology. If that’s true, a few explanatory theories suggest themselves, but I’ll hold off for now on pondering them out loud here.