Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The great things about civilization

John Durant from posited the following question to other paleobloggers and I thought I would join in:

Here's the question. If you had to live as part of an actual hunter-gatherer tribe 10,000 to 40,000 years ago, what would you miss the most about the modern world? Culture and technology are likely to be popular answers, so get more specific. If you say music, tell us what bands. If you say the technology, tell us why UNIX stirs your soul. Make it personal. Try to find things that if given the choice between a perfectly healthy hunter-gatherer lifestyle without what you love about modernity and a "healthy" modern lifestyle based on the conventional wisdom, you'd choose modernity.

This question actually is something that I have been thinking about quite a bit over the past few months. When I read about the Hadza in a National Geographic magazine and how they live, it really sparked something within myself and is more than likely a large reason as to why I switched to a Paleo lifestyle so readily. While I think it would do me a world of good to actually live off the land as they do, I also have quite a few hesitations about it.

For one, though I do not have a great number of acquaintances in real life, I am rather social, especially online. Facebook is a complete waste of time and has some serious privacy issues with their entire system, but I do love it for the simple fact that it allows me to stay connected. Same with twitter, forums, chat rooms, and blogs. I like to read and see other people's experiences and how they viewed them. I like to know about my family and friends, what they are up to, upcoming weddings, and so on. All of which would have been impossible 10-40,000 years ago.

Secondly, I am a voracious reader. I can read through 100 pages of a book in an hour, less if the story is truly compelling. I am a huge fan of Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series, and I can read through them all in less than a week. Song of Ice and Fire is another wonderful series by George R. R. Martin, as well as Wildcards which he edits and contributes to. I love history and will read anything on it that I can get my hands on, especially if it is something new and previously unknown. I could not give up my books, the printing press is one of the greatest items ever imagined by man.

I am a gamer, I could not give up my Playstations and my Xbox, I think my kids would rebel if I tried to take away their Gameboys. And not just the systems and games themselves, I would seriously miss the interaction that occurs when you game with your friends. On that note, my favorite types of games are tabletop rpg's. If you follow this blog at all, I talk about them like Tri-Stat dX and Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. I love to roll dice and imagine myself in a different body within a different world, even if it is all virtual. I am unsure if my ancestors played such games of make-believe, but in seeing the way that kids play, I am pretty sure that they would have. But I would miss the ability to game with friends from all over the world at the same time and create a story together, something that would be much harder to do within a small, nomadic tribe.

Entertainment in the form of music, movies, and videos. While I love myself some narratives and stories as evidenced in the previous paragraph, I like to be able to view stories visually through movies and television. It is something that I seriously look forward to.

Knowledge is a huge for me, I could not just accept that my small idea of the world around me, as the way a tribe would have seen it 10-40,000 years ago would have. In fact, I daresay that this one is true for anyone who is living a Paleolithic lifestyle. Research and information, facts and charts, I could not live without this sort of stuff. Including useless facts.

Lastly, I could not give up my modern technology. I love my propane grill. I use it weekly, cooking up massive amounts of meat to see my family through the week, but I would not mind firing it up daily just for a burger or two. Yes, I also love wood fires as well as eating over them, but I love the convenience and the level of control that I have when I use my gas grill. AC units and heaters are also high on my list of things that I would miss. I would not be a happy camper, freezing my butt off and hungry, having to go hunt through snow for my meal with not much to keep myself warm. Same with the heat, I could not deal with that very well.

So all in all, I am a modern creature who chooses to live two aspects of my life in line with my paleo ancestors, namely diet and exercise. What about you guys who are reading this? What is something that you would miss if you were suddenly thrust back in time to 10-40,000 years ago?

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