Picture this you are a caveman or women. A hunter gatherer living in the wilds type, animal skin wearing and club wielding. At night you lounge around the fire with your family group close by. Everyone else is asleep. You are being lulled by the flicker and warmth of the fire and yet you remain awake. You sense a subtle change in the wind direction that usually foretells bad weather approaching, this time it brings with it a scent. First your nose hairs stand then the hairs covering your body all join in. There is something afoot. Somethings out there. Perhaps a saber-toothed tiger (insert any scary type animal) is silently stalking your group, hanging back beyond the glow of the fire waiting for an opening to launch and drag their prey away. Your fingers wrap around the shaft of your spear and you slowly raise yourself to your feet, ready. But it is over before it begins, the threat senses your awareness and moves along in search of easier prey. You have survived another night. You don’t get much sleep but your genes are that much closer to making it to the next generation.
This proves that being aware of your surroundings is a good thing, right?
In situations like the one described above it was those who were switched on and tuned in who stood a better chance of staying alive than the hapless sod who drifted off into a cosy sleep. How many such situations exist today? Not many, if any for those of us who dwell in modern towns and cities. So what does this evolutionary trait do for us today? The short answer is that it keeps us alive, just like it has always done. The long answer is, well, long.
Switching on, switching off.
We have spoken of being switched on and tuned in, being thus has kept us alive. But what if we are to flip the coin and look at switching off and tuning out, where does this lead us and is it equally important to our survival? We all enjoy coming home after and long day and just vegging out and switching off. There is so much stuff going on in our lives and in the world around us, that anyone who can navigate through it without having to veg out fairly regularly is super human in my book. What is it that we generally do during this down time? Watch TV or check Facebook etc etc. (CUE SPOOKY VOICE OVER AND BACKGROUND MUSIC) We enter into a relaxed and highly suggestive state and then soak up what the media spews at us. A trip to the supermarket revels much about our level of involvement and engagement with media, take for example the 2-Minute noodle section. Traditionally a open, pour, wait, scoff, type of affair.
I noticed recently that some are now are offering an experience. Carefully, as instructed, open and add the not quite boiling(Sometimes when I am proof reading I stop and think, what is this shit all about? Who is writing this? But it passes)water for 2 minutes then add the first flavour sachet and then the second which contains seasonal vegetables. Bon Appetit. These few more steps don’t take much effort but they bring with it the feeling of having contributed to the project, makes us believe we are cooking, just like on Masterchef. Well, maybe a little. This is how our daily dose of media coverage feels at times, a blend of tradition and new media carefully scripted, edited and sculpted to ensure we get all the facts accurately all within a 15 second sight and sound bite. A 15 second grab, hundreds of times.
The print media plays a slightly different song, Evie parts 1,2,and 3 to LMFAO’s Sexy and I know it. Sitting down in brew sheds all over the country, construction workers have smoko (aussie slang for morning tea or brunch) and read the newspaper. In recent times this has been to read about “our Jill”. I wont go into the particular story (Google it if you need its a sad tale.) We sat and got angry at the injustice that this bright and beautiful young lady could be snatched off the street minutes from home only to be found(seriously Google if you want details). What I am getting at is we were angered, whipped into a frenzy and at the same time cuddled and heartened. We read about it in the paper, heard it on the radio and contributed to the discussion on Facebook and Twitter. We were involved. Sorta. Kinda. Whatever it feelings our involvement brings, it does evoke something that causes a reaction and though that reaction informs our actions. We act and think as a mob, and mob actions rarely rely on anything that could be considered reason.
So to circle back to the main discussion point what role does our awareness play?(Even I wasn’t sure when or how this would happen) Can we be aware of this deception? Or is it so subtle and sophisticated so as to fly under our radar. Indeed fly low sweet chariot bring with you your load of steaming and sweet bull shit . Your humble narrator seems to be aware of these machinations and many of you, my esteemed reader would be too but does that make us any less susceptible? We too are swept along with the waves of social media, although we might fancy that we are on board a surfboard or at very least buoyed by our floaties. Just as it was crucial to the survival of our cavemen cousins to be switched on and hyper aware, has the pendulum swung to the point that a desensitization to the stimuli that constantly surrounds us is equally important to us.
Are we arriving at a point in our evolution where switching off will prove to be the key to propagating our genes?