Ashton Kutcher: "I Wonder If People Mocked [John Glenn's] Space Program"

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An interesting tweet was forwarded to me by my ever-vigilant wife @MrsOneill today. It gave me a giggle, so I thought I’d post a comment about it.

The tweet came from A-list celebrity Ashton Kutcher. You know Ashton, the guy who “Punk’d” his friends… he also did an above average movie called the Butterfly Effect. He’s also married to the unchanging Demi Moore.

Still, he seems like a nice enough chap with talent he’s plowing into several businesses. It’s only natural that if you’ve got a few million to spare you’d invest it in an online cartoon show about a group of pubescent girls. Really, it’s called Blah Girls (and it’s quite funny).

Ashton is also super-famous for being the first man on the planet to acquire 1 million followers on Twitter. In short, this guy is on fire.

So what did he say on Twitter? I won’t tease you for any longer:

Listening to John Glenn mock the social web because he doesn’t understand it. I wonder if people mocked his space program.@aplusk

I can’t find what Kutcher is referring to (I asked him, I didn’t get a reply), but he was obviously a little peeved by Glenn’s attitude to the growing power of social media. And being the King of Social Media, or at least Twitter, Kutcher felt the need to speak out. On Twitter. To his (now 3.6 million+) adoring tweeps.

Kutcher is welcome to his opinion (in fact, it’s refreshing to hear a celeb have an opinion about a legendary astronaut), but it is so woefully wrong I can’t help but laugh.

John Glenn is a legend. And I don’t mean a “movie legend,” “popstar legend,” or “basketball legend,” Glenn is a space pioneer, a U.S. hero that history will never forget. 47 years ago (in 1962), John Glenn became the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the Earth. On that 4hr 55min journey aboard Friendship 7, he also became only the fifth human to be launched into space.

Of course, back in the 60s the Space Race was in full flow with the USA and the Soviet Union perpetually on the brink of war. Back then it was imperative to make sure the U.S. was in the lead (especially as the Soviets had gotten the first satellite and the first man in space). By putting his life on the line for his country, John Glenn proved to the world that the U.S. was a force to be reckoned with, and for right or wrong, those early advances in the manned space program propelled NASA onward to the moon, eventually landing Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the lunar surface in 1969.

But Glenn didn’t stop there. He went on to become a United States Senator. Then, in 1998, a whole 36 years after his historic first flight, he was launched into space at the age of 77 on board the space shuttle Discovery. He became the oldest person ever to go into space.

So what was Ashton Kutcher going on about again? John Glenn had the nerve to mock the social web? What’s worse, the 88 year old doesn’t understand it?

After all that, if I still haven’t made my point, try this for size: In 47 years time, nearly a century after Glenn took that trip into the vacuum of space, who do you think history will remember? A national hero who changed the course of world history, or an actor famous for having a lot of Twitter followers?

Even better — as we are talking about mocking the space program — if we switched off social media tomorrow (Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Reddit, Myspace etc. all spontaneously melted away), would that be as profound as canceling “his space program” the year before Glenn’s historic launch?

I don’t think the two can even be compared, do you?

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