At first it was considered by most to be a sort of honor, the notion of being the center of everything. At first it seemed to mean that we were important. Over the centuries, however, the perception changed. Most people began to think of it as a sort of cruel joke.
I'm talking, of course, about the revelations of space travel.
At first space travel was a fiction for humanity.
Then technology progressed and space travel became a feeble reality, and it stayed this way for almost a hundred years, puttering around in Earth's orbit or to the moon or to the nearest planets.
Then, after a few depressing failures to send humans to neighboring planets, space travel was abandoned. People decided it was too expensive and yielded no material benefit.
Almost a hundred years after that, however, revolutionary advances in energy production technology made far-reaching space travel truly feasible. Then it became a mighty movement. Ships were built and people were trained and hopes were high and humanity exploded out in every direction.
Then, as the ships pushed farther and farther away, it didn't take long for the shock of all ages to set in. People argued about it for a bit, but it was too obvious to refute.
After that space travel became a cynical distraction, a trifling reminder of the empty mystery of our position in the universe.
Earth, the most important place. But why?
"Like ancient Hollywood movie sets," was how people described what they found. "Real from one perspective, but fake from any other." Everything faced Earth. Everything happened toward Earth. Once you left the perspective of Earth far enough, it was undeniable. All of these things that seemed interesting and alive and three dimensional from far away just became, when you got closer to them, a farce, an act played out for the benefit of one spectator.
At first the religions seized on it as some sort of vindication. It did smack of higher intelligence, of an obvious order to things, of architecture. But where was the architect? Over the ensuing centuries of silence, the arbitrary senselessness of it all became the unspoken bother and anxiety of all of humanity. People began to feel a sort of cosmic paranoia, as though we were being watched by persons who refused to show their faces. "Maybe something happened to them," some conjectured. Cults grew up to mourn the accidental death of the gods. "Their plans were so carefully laid, and now nothing will ever come of them." They said. "We thank you for your intentions," they prayed.
Slowly, cynicism turned to the determined optimism of a new kind of human rebellion. People began migrating to "Out of Focus" stations scattered around the universe. Most of these were situated behind large objects, where Earth wasn't even visible. First generation humans in these settlements always had the same complaint: they all missed the sky. "From here the sky is so empty," they would say, staring up into someone else's sky, having no sky of their own. Later generations, of course, were not bothered by this. Instead an odd, irrational creed arose among them. "Here," they would say, "there is no architect but us. Here there is no Earth. Here there is no sky."