Maybe I Lack Imagination, but I think it would be Boring to Live on Mars

October 2016.

More thoughts about living on Mars. You’d be inside this sealed building, constantly worrying about a storm that might crack the wall and kill everyone. You’d get incredibly stir crazy. And it’s not like you could go back and forth from Mars to Earth. If you’re colonizing Mars, that’s it, that’s the rest of your life. It would be pretty cool to go outside onto the surface of Mars the first few times, to sit out there and night and watch the sky, to climb the nearby mountain, but after that it would get old fast. It would always be the same little canyon, the same rocky hill, within a couple of miles of your sterile little settlement. What in the world would you do for fun? You’re sitting there in your pressurized cabin, it’s Saturday night, what do you do? Try this great new restaurant, go see a play or a concert? It’s not as though Regina Spector and Yo Yo Ma are going to visit Mars on their latest tours, and every meal would be algae and protein from the lab. Maybe they’d send a couple of musicians up there, a couple of actors, but let’s be honest, you wouldn’t get Meryl Streep and Ian McKellan. What if you and your spouse split up after a couple of years on Mars – what then? You go move to another little pressurized cabin, to sleep in all by yourself for the rest of your life. You’re not going to meet someone “new.” OK, so maybe I’ll never get a chance to see Easter Island, but at least I can dream about the places I’ll go. Colonize Mars, and that’s done with. You’re not going anywhere on vacation.

It won’t be like colonizing new continents, back in the old days, because if you were one of the original pilgrims, or Jane Goodall living in the jungle, you could breathe the fresh air, go swim in the river, ride a horse through the woods. If you lived in the Massachusetts colony, and you got fed up with Governor Bradford you could always go start a new town that conformed to your own specific brand of Christianity. You didn’t need to put on a bulky suit with an air tank every time you wanted to take a stroll outside.

Really, going to live on Mars sounds worse than the worst job I can imagine here on Earth. Much worse than living in Somerset, for example. Worse than working in phone sales. Really not good. Exciting, and everything, one of the great dreamed achievements of mankind, but I will enjoy it vicariously. After you.

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