The Curiosity landing was made for me. And actually (if you’re reading this) I bet it was made for you too.
Like many people, about a month ago I watched with bated breath as the rover was lowered onto the surface of Mars in the wee hours of the morning. I fell slightly in love with Bobak the “Mohawk Guy” and desperately wanted to know where I could buy one of those snazzy blue shirts all the mission control operators were wearing. I laughed at the silly things Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted at the hipster-ish sounding Curiosity Rover handle.
But something struck me as odd about the way people (especially 20-somethings) reacted to the landing. A generation known for being particularly ironic and insincere when faced with anything serious was genuinely enthralled by this huge advancement in planetary sciences. A gaggle of young adults even braved a thunderstorm to watch a live-feed of the landing in Times Square. Science, NASA and peanuts brought us together for one, fleeting moment.
Honestly, it shocked me. We, on the whole, are known for our disaffected, cynical attitudes. It’s actually a point of pride for us. We 20-somethings are smart. We know the ways of the world, and that world is a place unfit for positivity and optimism. Excitement? Who needs it? We have our fatalistic, realistic perspective on life to keep us warm at night.
But this landing, this “great leap forward” for NASA, was also a “great leap” for our generation. We figured out how to use social media for good, to express our excitement for something amazing and cool without coating it in a nice layer of self-protective irony.
It really was our moon landing.