Jeff Bezos, one of the world’s wealthiest men, is due to (briefly) leave Earth in late July, launched into space by his private spaceflight company Blue Origin.
Quite a few earthlings want him to stay up there; more than 138,000 have signed a tongue-in-cheek petition proposing that Bezos be banned from returning to Earth.
“Billionaires should not exist … on earth, or in space but should they decide the latter they should stay there,” read the description accompanying the petition, which is addressed to “the proletariat.”
A second petition, called “Petition To Not Allow Jeff Bezos Re-Entry To Earth,” has accumulated more than 22,000 signatures.
The petitions are intended as jokes, but the sentiment seems real – the growing public anger toward widening wealth inequality means that billionaires, with their obsessive wealth-hoarding, are increasingly viewed with distaste.
Bezos might be popular with investors, but the alarming stories leaking out of Amazon warehouses, combined with the company’s apparent ambition to dominate every single industry on the planet, coating every inch of the metaphorical Monopoly board with chunky red hotels, certainly doesn’t impress the public (plus, the resemblance to Lex Luthor doesn’t help).
Bezos has also been criticized for being somewhat stingy, at least, compared to other billionaires. The titans of industry prefer private philanthropy to taxes (it’s cheaper), but Bezos is failing to keep up appearances; political analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson wrote that even Donald Trump had given away more than 3% of his wealth, while Bezos had given away less than 1%.
Fellow billionaire Elon Musk is also controversial, but the man has accumulated a loyal fanbase. Musk understands how to cultivate a public image, even if that means posting corny Reddit memes on Twitter and cracking dad jokes.
Bezos, on the other hand, doesn’t come across as personable. While Musk is happy to play the fool on SNL, Bezos is often parodied in media as a sci-fi supervillain, a man who doesn’t quite belong on Earth – South Park famously depicted Bezos as an alien entity seeking world domination.
It’s not hard to see why – when Bezos’ private “sexts” were allegedly leaked, gossipy readers soon wished they’d never read them at all, as they contained the most painfully awkward attempts at flirting one could imagine.
“I love you, alive girl,” reads one message, allegedly sent by Bezos to his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez. “I will show you with my body, and my lips and my eyes, very soon.”
Of course, “Alive girl” quickly flourished into a meme on Twitter.
But if Bezos does make it back to Earth, perhaps he will have experienced some serious emotional and spiritual growth. The profound effect of watching our “pale blue dot” from afar is well documented, even acknowledged by Bezos himself.
In a recent Instagram video, Bezos said he had dreamed of traveling into space since he was five.
“If you see the Earth from space, it changes you,” Bezos said. “It changes your relationship with this planet, with humanity. It’s one Earth. It’s an adventure.”