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Advice from Space: From the Gut

Advice from Space: From the Gut

spaceship photo

Dear Advice from Space,

Can I illegally download a movie to watch on an airplane if the movie is available at Netflix—considering I have a Netflix account and that Wi-Fi isn’t available on the plane?

I Hate Looking Out Plane Windows in Virginia

Dear I Hate Looking Out,

This week I focused a lot of personal attention on the state of my core—you know, assessing my propensity toward slouching and the gradually increasing sticky-outiness of my abdomen against my willingness to partake in holdy-inny exercises. I do spend several hours each day with my spacecraft’s gravity function turned on, but the majority of my time is spent floating, free of the burden of my body if not my mind. As a result, I have been finding myself noticeably more sticky-outy than when I started my mission some six months ago.

I’m not so concerned about my appearance while I’m in Space, but at some point I’ll return home (I hope) and though my knowledge of current events has lessened, my vanity has not. So I’ve devised a regimen to stay accountable to Future Me, who, like Mary Poppins, is practically perfect in every way. To aid in this regimen, I recently configured an “extra strength” setting on the gravity generator, which I hoped would enhance my exercise efforts but turned out to be a little too intense. I still use it when I need a laugh, though—for a few minutes each day I turn it on and pretend to be a sloth. Once you get over the crushing pressure, it’s pretty funny.

You know what else is funny? Ethics. Or, more specifically, how they exist as a universal on the grand scale, but the details of their application can be so relative. A few notable exceptions aside, everyone has a sense of right and wrong. But if you posed an ethical quandary to a sampling of your friends and neighbors, you would get a smorgasbord of nuanced answers.

For example, I admire the creativity and ingenuity of your reasoning. I could see many ways in which the answer to your question could be yes. But I would personally not be able to get past the “illegal” part of “illegally download,” fearful as I am of both viruses and legal action. Ethics are a shifting target. What’s right or wrong changes with the subtleties of a situation. And what I believe to be ethically right can be different from what’s ethically right to you.

This ambiguity makes life (and human interaction) irksome. It also makes it interesting. The most engrossing fiction involves characters who make decisions you or I would never make. They’re behaving in a way that they believe is ethically right—or they believe that whatever they’re pursuing is worth the betrayal of their ethics.

The question for you to consider is whether this is a moment for you to take an ethical dive. Downloading a video to watch on a plane? Wouldn’t it be more interesting, more diverting to do something special? Mark the human triumph of flight with something beyond the everyday. Buy a magazine, perhaps. Blacken out the models’ teeth. Transform the letter from the editor into an origami swan. Pack some travel-sized glue and compose your own ransom note, or create an erasure ode to the space-time continuum. There are lots of options for in-flight entertainment beyond rewatching Runaway Bride.

Certainly there are times when you’ll face tricky situations, and you’ll need to make a dubious ethical choice. But maybe be selective about when and why those dubious choices are made? Do it for Future You. Your metaphorical abdomen will thank you.

Advice from Space

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Jeannie Hoag
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About The Author

Jeannie Hoag

Jeannie Hoag is a writer who lives in New York/space.

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