My favorite class in (community) college was Astronomy, instructed by Professor Andrew Fraknoi, an Einstein of our time. And by far the most terrifying, panic-stricken hour of my life was Fraknoi’s lecture on the death of the universe. I’m no astrophysicist, but the gist of it went something like this:
The universe began with the Big Bang (debatably, or God, or both, depending on what you believe, but if you could please just roll with me for the sake of this article). And naturally, so too, the universe must end, which we expect it will do in one of two ways: In the first case, gravity wins, when the momentum of the Big Bang that birthed our universe subsides, and eventually all the matter that burst out into the verse will collapse in on itself in a hot rage, reducing our entire universe to a single point in space, or a black hole or something. Very scary. In the second scenario, the Big Bang wins, and its momentum will disperse the matter of our universe so far apart from all the rest that there can be no hope of contact in the vast expanse of frozen, silent space between each world, and the heat that lights our stars will all burn out, and life as we know it will be lost.
The metaphorical genius I am, I can’t help but notice some striking similarities between the second scenario and my own experience as a blogger. More human beings are born into this shitshow every day. But no matter how many people we cram into this planet, none of them are likely to read my blog. It doesn’t matter what I post or how revolutionary my words may be. I could be writing the next Bible and nobody would know because nobody reddit. And no matter how much I espress myself, I remain invisible amidst the vast and growing universe that is the worldwide web.
With so many people surfing, clicking, scrolling, sharing and so-called connecting, you’d think a few of them might stumble upon my blog. And granted, a few of them do, but the clicks and views that trickle in are flowing slowly with no sign of speeding up, and can mostly be traced back to friends and family who only visit out of love and obligation. Thank you, by the way.
Yet something unreachable remains between my blog and the massive audience I know is out there. Popularity. Familiarity. The gravity that pulls matter toward me, and connects me to the rest. Without it, the words I publish are lost in space. But why then, do some get all the clicks and views and follows, and I don’t?
Maybe because they’re superstars, and they have all the gravity, diverting any and all traffic in the vast fabric of space away from me, a flickering white dwarf on the fringe of the universe. It’s getting cold on this island, guys. Castaway out in the vastness. I’m shooting flares, but they’re just swallowed in the dark. I’m shouting loud, but sound can’t travel through this space. I’m burning out, and I’m not the only one alone out here. I’m one of fucking billions.
After shattering the hearts and shitting the pants of a room full of students, Fraknoi ended his lecture with a small, faint ray of hope. As far as we can conceive, he concluded, the death of our universe will play out in one of these two ways, neither of which particularly appeal to me. However! One factor remains unaccounted for. We can account for gravity, and the inertia of the Big Bang that’s expanding outer space, but we cannot account for the unknown force causing our universe to expand at an accelerated rate. Because this force remains unknown, so does the fate of our universe. So fingers crossed we never figure that shit out because not knowing means there’s hope for something not so shitty.
I thank Fraknoi every day for that X-factor, that unknown, that inexplicable driving force. I like to think it’s the same driving force inside of me, the same one driving me to write this blog that no one reads, the same one driving all of us worldwide to do whatever we may do, as if to protest the notion that it’s all for nothing. So fuck if no one hears my words. The universe still put me hear to say them.