Written by: Dan Miller
I enjoy a good reality check every now and again. It keeps me humble. Care to join me in trying one?
Go outside, deep into nature, with nothing but yourself. No firearms, no knives, no hat, no gloves, no clothing, no phone, no nothing. Whoa wait, no clothing? Yup! Nothing. Not even a tiny cloth covering your dangly bits. You’ll very quickly notice something that most of us have forgotten, you’re no longer at the top of the food chain. As a matter of fact, this reality check may quickly turn into a bitch-slap across the face from Mother Nature when you realize that you’re one of the slowest things out there, you’re laughably weak, you’re clumsy, your camouflage sucks, so does your night vision, and, this is the best part, you’re made of delicious, wet, meat!
And guess what happens to slow, weak, delicious bags of meat in nature? They get eaten!
So why are we here today? How did we get to the twenty first century when we’re this feeble? The answer to that contains a valuable, but all to forgotten lesson.
Millions of years of human evolution as one type of hominid or another, all occurred outside. Nature and our environment shaped our evolution, our systems, us.
Followed up by a couple hundred thousand years or so of evolution as one type of sapien or another. All, again, occurring outside. Nature and our environment still shaping us and our bodily systems.
And then, suddenly, in the blink of an evolutionary eye, the human species is living almost exclusively indoors. Less than ten thousand years from sticks and stones to cars and phones. Now, like never before, we shape our environment, not the other way around right? Wrong!
We may be getting more intelligent as we evolve in the information age, although even that is debatable. But to think our environment, that we now create, isn’t still shaping us is woefully negligent on our part. We are weaker, slower, and less in tune with nature than any of our distant ancestors ever were. And our environment, that we created mind you, may be the biggest cause of this. And we may be losing something more important than our speed and strength.
Our ancestors used the most valuable “tool” to deal with their weaknesses while evolving in nature. They used one another. Tribe. Social groups. Connection. These tight tribal bonds with other humans kept us safe from the ravages of nature and the vicious hunters at the top of the food chain.
Maybe it was the mushrooms, maybe it was the meat, but somewhere along the lines our brain grew faster and bigger than the other animals around us and we started using sticks, then stones, then metal tools to quickly move to the top of the food chain. Technology, combined with our abilities to work together in small groups, would soon separate us from the others as we dominated the natural world around us.
And this is where we find ourselves today. Technology, in the form of projectile weapons, buildings, cars, airplanes, and cities all keep us incredibly safe from nature and her apex predators. But all this technology may be coming with a huge downside.
Our social connections are weaker and fewer than ever before. And we rarely go outside! We used to live in tribes of around 100-150, now we don’t even know our neighbors and the average person has eight close friends (Gallup). According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American spends 87% of their life indoors, and another 6% of their life in automobiles. That's only 7% of their entire life outdoors. Alarm bells should be ringing just reading this. We need to fix something and soon!
The way I see it we have three options, and the freedom to choose any one of these for our future selves and our future families.
- Go outside stark raving naked, as we discussed above, and see how it goes. I’m personally against this option as it will most likely end in a painful death or embarrassing arrest.
- Stay indoors all the time. Get your food delivered. Sit on the couch. Enjoy every luxury of being a modern human who has “made it.” Move as little as possible. Eat until you can’t move at all. And consume far more than you create. Hey, this is a pretty good option for our species considering where we started! But realize, if you choose this option, you’ll keep getting weaker and slower year after year and the diseases and early death that may come with this lifestyle are no more pleasant than those from option one above. If you don’t, you may want to refer to my last post.
- Gather your friends and get outside more often but keep a little bit of technology. I’m talking about camping not glamping. Bringing the tent not the trailer. And enjoying the hippy TV (you know, the campfire) not the satellite dish. Take the guns, the newest bow, the sharpest knives, and the very best camouflage your wallet will allow. Get back to the rituals that kept humans alive for millions of years; hunting, fishing, gathering, joining together in small groups around a fire, and cooking what you found that day to eat. But keep a bit of technology to even the odds a bit and maintain that position at the top of the food chain.
That little extra bit of technology that we fought so hard for doesn’t have to sever our relationship with nature. As a matter of fact, the way I see it, it may just help restore it.
My vote is a strong mix of option three and a dash of option 2 just because we can. Who’s in?