Neil Armstrong died yesterday. He was the first person to walk on the moon, which is pretty damn awesome in my book.
Neil Armstrong was globally famous for being the first person to stand on the moon, but he generally kept a low public profile. I didn’t really know a lot about his post-moon life, which was kind of the point: he went back to normal life after his space flight, shying away from the media and letting his achievement speak for itself.
Can you imagine what would happen now, in today’s narcissistic digital age, if we were to plan something as audacious and high-profile as space-flight and moon landings? Given the ridiculous hoopla surrounding the recent London Olympics, I guess it would be quite big deal. There would probably be a TV show plying through thousands of wannabes to find the astronaut ‘talent’, then a reality show based around the astronauts, and live twitter-feeds from the capsule as the astronauts land on the moon. I dare one of the hypothetical astronauts to tweet about “floating in a tin can” while piloting a moon-landing capsule. Once on the moon, they’d probably first have to put a McDonald’s banner, ‘the official sponsor of cosmic endeavours’, up instead of a nation’s flag or anything else that contravenes the sponsorship agreement. And, back on Earth, people at news desks would be busy trawling through millions of people’s tweets about it, and Instagrammed photos of the moon to make social-media snapshots passed off as journalism. When the astronauts got back to Earth, they’d have to do the talk-show circuit, endorse loads of unrelated products and have all manner of hangers-on trying to get a piece of them…..
Pardon my cynicism. I know more about Neil Armstrong following his death than I ever knew about him while he was alive. I respect him more now in light of that. Thank you, Mr Armstrong, for being so humble.