Actually, according to local folklore, in 1979 aliens landed about six miles from me, in Rowley Regis, and a witness gave them all mince pies, so baked goods may be an appropriate gift to present to any extraterrestrial visitors. I think any aliens that like cake are potential friends and allies, and far better than aliens that, say, want to eat our livers.
As for how aliens would regard our society, it’s a big question – which society, for a start? They might have an affinity for modern western culture, or the long view of Chinese history, or native American tribal societies, or… Given that the arrival of aliens would be one of the most influential and earth-shattering events in human history, the way in which they relate to any of our particular human societies could lead to a total shift in global politics, with existing superpowers possibly being pushed aside if the aliens had a greater affinity for, say, Australian Aboriginies.
That’s a bit of an anthropomorphic way of looking at the question, of course, because if they were truly alien then we’d struggle to even comprehend each other, let alone communicate or develop alliances. How would either side go about making contact when we’re not talking about different human societies that at least have a shared physiology to help things along (we couldn’t exactly smile at aliens and expect them to know what that means, because they might not even have mouths. Although that would stop them eating our livers).
And then, then, who would we send out to make first contact? The military? Probably gives the wrong impression. Politicians? Okay, which ones? Scientists, theologians, entertainers? Male or female? Young or old? President Obama, David Cameron, the Pope, Nelson Mandela, Stephen Hawking, Bono, William Shatner?
Should we send anyone? Remember War of the Worlds – one virus in the wrong place and we’ve given an alien ambassador Swine Flu. That’s not going to go down well in the mothership. This isn’t sci-fi paranoia – this is pretty much what happens when civilisations run into each other for the first time, mixing up germs that had previously been isolated.
But then if they landed in my backyard, I’d be on the frontline of the first contact between humanity and a sentient alien race. Me, Matt, from Dudley. I don’t think I’m ready for that responsibility. I’d be tempted to ask them to mow my lawn with a laser or something. My sole experience in this sort of thing is watching sci-fi TV shows, and that never ends well for the aliens. For my generation, Han Shot First. Who would I call? The police? The local Council? The RAF, the Government? How do I get in touch with the Government anyway, my MP? Which department is in charge of this sort of thing, the Foreign Office? Ministry of Defence? The UK Border Agency?
It also doesn’t help that my stupid mobile phone probably wouldn’t get a signal.
So, all in all, I’d like to think I’d be friendly and welcoming, but there’s too much at stake, and if I sneezed I could kill them all. There’s only one solution to this, and that is to draft my house’s very own First Contact Protocols (to go alongside the Zombie Apocalypse Contingency Plan). This may seem over-the-top, but no-one else seems to have a plan in place. They’re leaving the ball in my court. Well, fine. I can handle it.
I for one welcome our new alien overlords!
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