We Are Not Our Programming

I have heard a lot about “human nature.” How we are programmed from our ancestors to be creatures of instinct. How humans are not meant to be monogamous because our primitive instincts prioritize the survival of our species by sexing as many people as we can sex. There are things like the Paleo Diet crafted to get us back in touch with our supposedly natural eating habits. Much of the discord in the world is claimed to be rooted in primordial tribalism. We are, apparently, slaves to our descendants. Nothing more than meat sacks dragged around by our simian brains, bundles of impulses driven by ancient proclivities.

This is the amazing Todd Schorr's "The Hunter Gatherer" (I'm calling him amazing, that's not his nickname to my knowledge)
This is the amazing Todd Schorr’s “The Hunter Gatherer” (I’m calling him amazing, that’s not his nickname to my knowledge)

Oh, the only problem is, I read and heard all of this on the internet. Remind me again, were our primate relatives big fans of AOL? I remember learning in school how Homo Neanderthalensis, after a long day of hunting Stegosaurus, would get home, pull out an iPad and craft angry missives in the comment section of The Pangea Times.

While I don’t fully disagree with the hypothesis of behavior having something to do with a hold-over from hunter/gatherer days, many times, too many times, people use this as an excuse, completely discounting the adaptability of humanity. If you choose to believe that you are a marionette controlled by a phantom caveman, is that only to avoid personal responsibility and accountability?

The brains of humans are quite malleable. We started off as a nomadic people, farming wasn’t in our DNA, but we seem to have adapted to both cities and factory farming well. The human brain changed drastically with the spreading of literacy. There’s no survival instinct tied to reading and writing (but we have to write down farming techniques or–Shut up, my own, contradictory brain! I’m talking about our hunter/gatherer origins.) It changed again with the introduction of the internet. Our brains and instincts will continue to change and adapt to new discoveries, inventions and circumstances.

Okay, maybe some people’s brains won’t.Neanderthal Selfie

Maybe that’s why some people think that the Paleo Diet, a diet based on the eating habits of people whose life expectancy was 25, is a good idea. Maybe that’s why people cling so strongly to their “tribes” like sports teams or political parties or nationalistic exceptionalism, and think that alignment matters or defines an individual. If you want to be polyamorous, be polyamorous, but don’t point to some goofy notion that we can’t overcome programming from thousands upon thousands of years ago as an excuse for wanting new-person-sex.

Don’t tell me that we are servants of our prehistoric instincts. People can adapt to just about anything. Some people acclimate to extreme poverty, some grow accustomed to extreme wealth, some conform to only being able to sleep on Ambien (definitely an endorsement, pay me Ambien! Pay me in Ambien, Ambien.) There are some people who slowly allow their homes to be overtaken with mountains of newspapers.

The point is, we as humans are pretty good at not listening to the primordial remnants still hiding in the nooks and crannies of our brain. We wear shoes, that alone is enough proof that we can adapt to new paradigms.


Add yours →

  1. Yeahhh… evolutionary psychology is more often than not (in my humble opinion) used as an excuse as to why men try to stick their d#$%# anywhere they’d like. In general, i’m not a big fan of it.


  2. abeerfortheshower March 16, 2015 — 7:10 am

    Yes, I completely agree, and what Gia said. If you want to stick your dick in everything, do it, guys. Just don’t get married and then claim your ancestors “made you do it.”

    Things have changed drastically over time. Just look at the whole ‘alpha male’ thing. Once upon a time ago we needed the strong to aggressively lead. Nowadays, we value intelligence instead. We CHOSE to value that over brute strength; it had nothing to do with genetics and ancestry.

    But please, let’s continue to blindly follow our programming and elect President John Cena in 2016 instead. That would be great (and totally natural) for mankind.


  3. Interesting discussion this morning, Pickleope…I’m sticking with the modern version, and I’ll just shut out all the offensive stuff around to listen to the music!


  4. Where can I sign up to be one of those who acclimate to grow accustomed to extreme wealth? I’m willing to sacrifice myself for science.

    P.S. Love the Goddess of Willendorf dancing with Mickey Mouse on the haunch of venison.


  5. Ah, brain food… No, no, it’s all genetic. I have proof that my cave man ancestors used to go around to cave drawings and write, “First! Your last painting was better. You’re starting to suck. I don’t think I’m going to stop by this cave anymore.”

    Seriously, though, I never blame my flaws on my genes. I blame them on pop culture.


  6. Do you realize just how hard it was for our descendants to get off of AOHELL? It alone took me almost 10,000 years.


  7. I’m with Gia. She is a genius.



  8. You are brilliant, Pickleope Von Pickleope. Your readers are too, if I do say so myself.
    Carry on.
    That is all.


  9. Well said indeed, have to be honest I have not given this any thought till now


  10. Then again, a lot of the problems in our society are caused by a belief that humans are separate from nature.


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