• Bodie English

“Modern Man Sufferers From Too Much Convenience,” Says Anthropology Professor

Updated: Jul 11, 2020

On a recent neighborhood run, I came across a neighbor of mine who seemed to be having a bit of anxiety while doing yard work. I slowed down from my Olympic hopeful pace to inquire, as that’s what neighbors do. Of course, he’s a man, and I’m a man, so this can become tricky. You can’t just ask “what’s wrong”, as that implies that he doesn’t have everything figured out like a good man should. So instead I said, “What up Calvin, yard of the month contender I assume?”

Calvin broke the man code and let a tear fall as he sat down on his retaining wall. “Allergies?” I said. He let out a sigh and told me that he just didn’t understand…..he bought a whole new setup of the new Ryobi Yard tools that are all electric, but that after he finished the lawn, “Somethin' just doesn’t feel right!.” I agreed, all electric; that’s why I couldn’t smell the gas or hear any equipment that morning! He said that it just didn’t feel the same if he didn’t have to start a fire to get something done.

A lightbulb went off in my head, “man creating fire” reminded me of this Nova episode where I learned, while eating a Hot Pocket in my air conditioned bedroom on my smart TV, that building a fire had a positive psychological and physiological impact on Mans' well-being. Was there a link? I wanted to seek answers for Calvin, and for Men everywhere.

I went to The Yale School of Cognitive Science department web page to get a look at the professors so I could imagine what they might say if they would actually return my phone calls.

My questions would be, “Is there some link between Modern Mans' happiness and activities that are linked to primitive roles?” The professors would undoubtedly compliment my insightful conjecture and ask if I too was educated at an elite university, I would shy coyly and they would say, “likely yes, Mankind has evolved not only in the physical realm, but in the social/ emotional realm as well.” He would go on to explain that satisfaction is derived in part from accomplishment, and we have centuries of accomplishments, and mating patterns to reinforce those qualities within individuals. Males have survived and been promoted according to their abilities to adapt and overcome, so the ability to hunt, protect, and build shelter all contribute to the Male Psyche and overall emotional well-being.

When I asked if this was true of females as well, he would say, “What are you trying to get me fired?"

The modern iterations of these roles are still evident today within many cultural apparatus. Take sports like running or the better version, “cycling,” what is it about this very basic, (go fast, don’t not go fast) activity that continues to enthrall? Professor Whatshisface would explain that this is still the primitive hunt. Hunt or be hunted. You can see this play out in cycling packs, you have predatorial and protective elements of engagement within the sport and therefore we simulate the past in more complex ways.

Backyard BBQs celebrate the qualities of roasting the beast on the open flame and the social dynamics created around this single vision simulates a village celebrating the fetes of the huntsman. Other activities such as dancing and even bullying make for an interesting view into the world of the past that allows us to see just how far we’ve come while also seeing some vestigial link to our past that is not so erased; the list goes on and on. The more we recede from these primitive urges, the more we experience disconnect which we can sometimes feel in the back of our heads. Progress, it seems, is not without its growing pains.

We can also use this to look forward into what activities of the future may look like as we continue to erase hardships and life becomes less ….hard. Will we be satisfied with more conveniences that further separate us from our primitive roles? Would Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, currently shaped as a pyramid, be more accurate as a LARGE CONCENTRIC CIRCLE?

This is groundbreaking theoretical territory and I was worried that I had inadvertently shared my life’s purpose with this so-called professor. He was going to steal it from me and surpass me as alpha, so I challenged him to a fist fight. I was in no hurry to take a plane to Connecticut to confront this would-be thief, so I gave him a bad Yelp review instead.

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