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.
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.
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.