In the spirit of Space Australia posts...
I like the idea of humans not being the only species with a need to unecessarily bond and form ‘packs’ and whatnot, or the only species to enjoy putting themselves in danger for the adrenaline rush, or the only species to recreationally poison themselves, or even the only species to have parties.
You know what I love, though?
Crowd psychology and the concept of group flow.
I love the idea that humans are the species that is in love with group flow. Sure, any alien can listen to music and enjoy it, maybe even go to concerts in large groups. But humans are the only non-telepathic species where going in a large group enhances the experience simply because you know that dozens or hundreds or even thousands of other people are all getting in the zone with you at the same time for the same reason. Any alien can go to a concert, but they marvel at the sight of hundreds of humans singing along to their favorite artist not because it makes the song objectively better, but because it enhances the experience.
I love the idea of aliens trying to figure out mob psychology, looking at sports fandoms and the riots that happen if a team fails to win a game, and asking themselves and other humans how it gets to that point. Because they can put the same human in front of the same game and get two entirely different results based on whether the human is alone or not. A lone human may break a bottle or curse, but they will likely not do more than that, unless they go online to rant. A human in a group that feels the same way can do much more damage.
I love the idea of aliens trying to figure out the aspect of performative grief for dead celebrities, not understanding that it is not only practice for when a death comes closer to home, but that it is a form of bonding, a call and an echo of “I feel this way too. This person mattered to me too,” across thousands or millions of people’s screens and faces and pens.
I love the idea of aliens taking a look at frat parties and nightclubs and karaoke and being so confused, because they can understand that intoxication might be fun, sometimes, or that singing or dancing with strangers can be fun, but the sheer chaos of an out-of-control college party is terrifying to them. There is nothing here that people will enjoy come the morning, but somehow that doesn’t matter, because in that moment, with those people, the humans are connecting as they sing their drunken songs or eat their terrible food or dance the night away. There is a sense of belonging even in this awful mess, for those who know how to find it.
I love the idea of aliens looking at conventions and wondering how it is that there is such a difference in a person wearing a costume in the privacy of their home and wearing it to a large con, how the endorphin levels soar even when the human is not receiving compliments, just because the convention is an echo chamber of “I love this show, this character, this franchise, this life.”
I love the idea of aliens coming to earth and understanding the meaning of bonds and enjoying music and knowing fiction and surviving our weather and planets and everything and still not being able to understand how a room full of strangers with no telepathy can feel so connected and in-tune simply by sharing an experience. The feelings aren’t always positive ones, but they are there, and there is a comfort in sharing them with endless people you’ve never met.
Anyway, that’s my contribution for Space Australia.