Seth Godin Newsletter

Far away is difficult

Humans are bad at understanding things that are very far away in scale or time.

Atoms aren’t actually made up of tiny particles that are like rocks, but smaller. And planets aren’t simply very large billiard balls. We can only understand the behavior of things big and small by realizing that they’re not actually different versions of something of the size that we can easily see.

Things that happened a million years ago are hard to visualize, and we can’t reliably make many guesses about how the world is going to be a thousand years from now (and even fifty is difficult–lately, four weeks is a stretch).

Physics is straightforward–except when it comes to things that are very small and those that are very large, when it all gets weird. Different rules apply.

Extrapolation is far easier to claim than it is to do. That person across the counter or the web from you probably has very different experiences, beliefs and expectations than you do. Starting with your experience and assuming it matches their own is a trap.

Most everyone is very far away. And most feelings act like they are very small (or very large).