Humans are a species of animal that has accomplished the feat of self-domestication, primarily through the use of technologies that have allowed us to extend our natural range, raise our population levels and densities, and eliminate a vast majority of controls. Fire allowed for countless developments, and with the invention of clothing allowed for the expansion of humanitys range into more temperate climatic zones (such as the one we live in, where a source of heat and clothes are necessary for enduring long dark winters). Agriculture, in the form of plant and animal domestication, allowed for the increase of population levels and densities in cultures that acquired them, displacing cultures that were unable or unwilling to accept such knowledge – a cycle that has been repeated with any power-granting technology. The development of increasingly more powerful weapons as well as increasingly more centralized monopolization of force on the parts of chiefdoms, kingdoms, and states has lead to the decrease in day-to-day violence yet a drastic increase in the amount of death due to wars and other state action. Agriculture brought sedentary life, urbanization, and disease, and cleanliness and modern medical technology have gotten rid of it. The industrial revolution brought with it the growth enhancing force of fossil fuels, further strengthening the centralization and power of fewer and fewer states as well as fewer and fewer people. We live in a vastly different existence than the one we were created/evolved to live in, going from true freedom in the greatest sense of the word to a mere illusion of ‘Freedom’ (for the few and the proud, the ones who can afford it) in ten thousand years.
This self-domestication through technological development has shifted us from natural environments in which we evolved to artificial environments that we are maladapted to – environments where we have to use counter-technologies and modified behaviors to cope with self inflicted changes. Certain biological and behavioral traits were beneficial (or at the very least benign) to human existence until the development of agriculture and sedentary living, and with the gradual centralization, stratification, and increasing complexity of human society and technology. Obesity is a prime example of this maladaptation. In times of food scarcity (most of human history, primarily in cultures in less agrarian societies – think Africa, pre-Columbian Americas, and the South Pacific) it is the ideal phenotype of an individual to be able to gain weight quickly and lose it slowly. Take a mechanized agricultural system that turns oil into calories (extremely inefficiently, might I add) to make an over abundance of these calories in the forms of sugars and fats (that along with salt, are all very rare in the natural environments we evolved and are very needed for proper bodily functioning) and what do you end up with? Epidemic obesity, particularly in populations that had less agricultural activity over their historical development (from their genetic predisposition towards unreliable food sources).
I think about this stuff constantly. I wish I were free and ‘indigenous’. I wish I could have a relationship with the land, with the water that runs through it and the life that makes it its home. I wish I could have relationships with people that were’t predicated on self-gratification, isolation, and electronic bullshit. I wish I didn’t have to live a life I wasn’t born to live. I am a ‘Stone Age’ human maladaptively living in a technological, environmentally destructive, socially manipulative dystopia, and so are all of you.
What do you think? Do you care?