Please allow me to introduce my “sense of self”, they call me Shane. Interestingly, of all the billions of magazines, blogs, articles, and books that could have shown up in your awareness, this one single solitary collection of symbols, in the form of words, has presented itself as your choice of focus. I say choice because that is exactly what you must do in this very moment, you must choose. Choose to take me home or leave me behind, to continue to read or divert your attention, to consider a possible shift in perspective or to remain steadfast in your certainties.
Of course, as with everything in this life experience, it is entirely up to you. It is not by coincidence that this ink stained reconstitution of lumber has found itself before your eyes. It would be more poignant to imply an apparent synchronicity. There is nothing forceful in this book, no absolutes of any kind. This book is merely suggestive, a nudge in the direction of unexplored considerations.
As with all journeys, this psychological safari begins with a single step…
[put me down] or [turn the page]
The choice is always yours.. or is it?
Let’s devolve a few hundred thousand years before the first sounds ever uttered by humans were given meaning to form language. The chronological theory of language has been a thorn in the larynx of such unobtainable conclusions. Linguistic origin is such a blurry field of study, a hypothesis is all we can deduce. What we can say is that language evolved a long time ago, maybe 100-200 thousand years ago, and has mutated into the complex forms of communication we utilize today. The evolution of the human species itself, however, happened much further back in linear time. Mammals mutated into primates, which genetically paved the way for the Homo habilis, and consecutively into the contemporary human. This is certainly an amazing feat of nature, but there is one flaw in the biological evolutionary process that we must acknowledge if we want to understand who we are and what we have become. This flaw is in the cognitive three pound organ in our skulls, we call it the brain.
What’s the problem you ask? The problem is simple to explain, it is that our brains have never been rebuilt or redesigned, only modified.
Let’s look at it like this –
Today, digital technology is evolving so quickly that human societies can hardly keep a sustainable cadence with the binary barrage of information overload. Think back some 45 years ago, to 1976, the year of the introduction of the floppy disc. If you’re as old as I, you remember these things. A thin magnetic storage medium encased in a hard-plastic shell. It wasn’t until 1986, with the second generation of these relics, that IBM pushed the envelope and managed to make room for a whopping 1.2 megabytes of data storage. The third generation measured in at 3.5 inches square, a revolution in digital technology that disappeared about as fast as you can say CD-ROM.
Compact Disc Read-Only Memory mediums were laser-etched media capturing devices that ranked supreme throughout the 1990s until the advent of the USB Flash Drive in early 2000, which are capable of holding a staggering 2 terabytes of digital data! They are tiny, weighing less than one ounce, very inexpensive, and hold thousands of times more information than their predecessors. You can literally carry around 4,000 copies of the entire Encyclopedia Britannica on your key ring. They are extremely durable with no moving parts and can be rewritten up to 100,000 times. This is it, the holy grail of data storage! Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I hate to rain on your tangible parade, but here comes the cumulonimbus.
The clouds are here, there, and everywhere. Now, with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular data towers, we don’t even need an object to store our data, at least not on our immediate person. All our devices communicate with one another simultaneously, backing up everything along the way. Heck, one pioneering individual had the foresight to create computing devices with not one single data port. All communication is done wirelessly and even semi-autonomously. No doubt, Mr. Jobs had vision light years ahead of his peers.
Now that we’ve strolled down memory lane relative to, umm, memory. Let’s consider the computer itself. The device is responsible for utilizing the memory storage devices, reading the data, decoding it, and presenting it to us in a comprehensible way. This data decoding is presented to us in the form of static and dynamic images, and graphemes or text.
Think back to early desktop computers, before the luxury of laptops and iPads. They were big clunky towers comprised of hard drives, CD-ROMs, floppy disc drives, giant graphic processors, and bulky fans. Now imagine that we were never able to replace data drives and hardware upgrades, rather, we could only add-on these new and improved processors.
Imagine today, having to carry around your super-intelligent, extremely fast iPad, but it comes with a backpack full of drives, fans, and big old clunky processors with only a tethered screen on a flexible arm for your convenience. It weighs 10 pounds, is subject to limited processing power, and has short battery life. This iPad doesn’t care about facts, to minimize energy consumption, its priorities are predictability and efficiency. Therefore it primarily runs in “assumption” mode, aka “power saving” mode. Energy is expensive, so to conserve and maximize its resources, this iPad is primarily programmed to categorically think (remember, when you categorize, you inevitably polarize.. note this correlation). Wouldn’t that be a cumbersome and archaic computing system? Well, guess what, this is a legitimate metaphor illustrating the biological development of your brain.
The cerebral neocortex is the most recent addition to human cognition. This is the largest portion of the brain responsible for the executive functions of attention, perception, awareness, thought, language, and consciousness. It is what gives us the unique ability to be aware that we are aware. To be able to perceive our hands and understand our sense of agency. It has the power to empathize and feel what other humans may be feeling. It potentiates the means to think in 3rd, 4th, and 5th person perspectives. It has the audacity to realize our mortality, ponder the possibility of death, and experience the fragility of existence. And it is the provider of reason when we allow it. Here’s the problem, this beautiful cognizant work of biological brilliance is carrying around that backpack of clunky and outdated parts that I mentioned earlier. We have been blessed with a proverbial iPad at the forefront of our skulls while simultaneously cursed with the ancient circuitry of a relentlessly negative bias.
See, we may now be semi-conscious sentient beings with telepathic transceivers in our cranial cavities making it possible, with the help of our opposable thumbs, to explore the heavens and submerge the seas. However, the brilliance of our current mental powers did not evolve congruently with our primal minds. Meaning, humanity as a collective, is still unconsciously operating from the perspective of their primal agendas. What are these agendas, you ask? The presently tumultuous condition of the human organisms has found itself in a state of dismal disarray due to these two primal and primarily subconscious motives; procreation and survival.
Just look around, what was, is, and continues to be the number one tool of sales? Images, implications, phrases, connotations, and insinuations, all geared toward releasing the neurotransmitters, testosterone and estrogen, activating your most primal and predominant desire.. sex. Why is sex so predominant? Its’ result of course.. offspring. The incessant and seemingly unsatisfied need for sex brings us to our second most commonly unobserved motive. When you have more of anything, the odds increase that there will be some that remain in the event of a catastrophe. It’s also called the law of averages, or power in numbers. If we consider that train of thought, at a time when there were only a few thousand humans roaming the globe, it would make sense on a gigantic, unpredictable, and volatile planet to populate it with as many humans as we could to increase the odds and ensure the survival of our species.
Yes, that did make logical sense, then. Today, we don’t have the problem of a lack of population to worry about, but we do have the problem of a primitive mindset to contend with. We are still, as a global community, mostly unconscious in our doings. We haven’t been made aware of our primal processing because most of those that are doing the teaching are also unaware of their primitive cognition. Are you beginning to see? This does not mean they are stupid or wrong, they simply do not realize that there is anything to reveal to themselves.
Because the threats that molded our primitive minds don’t really apply all that much in today’s civilized world, what we have done is taken the effective and timely necessary survival processes of our brains and applied their mechanisms to modern-day cultural applications. Back in the day, we needed more. More of everything to ensure our survival. More wood, more food, more water, more shelter, and more humans. Today, we have applied our “need for more” to social status and to feed our ego (more on that in the next chapter).
If you have ever heard the phrase, “The man with the most toys wins.”, that is redirecting survival cognition to cultural norms. The woman needs the latest model Benz, the man needs the bigger house, the neighbors need more Christmas lights. It’s all the same insane game of status, recognition, significance, and superiority. None of which matters when you die.
Why does the man need a trophy wife? In the displaying of her youthfulness and good looks, it shows to the other males his superior prowess and to the females that he is still quite virile and able to assist in the production of offspring. For men, it’s mostly status and dominance, for women, it’s the acquisition and protection of resources.
Why do a vast majority of women gravitate to a man that is tall, dark, and handsome? Primally speaking, a tall man can run faster and see farther, enabling him to either avoid being preyed upon or to capture the evening meal. A dark and handsome man has the appearance of a healthy and fit body. Even a deep tone of voice, a heavy brow line, and a chiseled jaw bone, all indicate increased levels of testosterone. Which, again, means what? He’s capable and ready to populate the planet with his automatic, reactionary, and unconscious erections.
Why is the typical male attracted to large breasts, a thick mane, and wide hips? It’s obvious that they have an abundance of estrogen, are very physically healthy, and are apparently capable of birthing and feeding all the little humans they are going to procreate.
Why do women paint their faces? It used to be decorative for celebration or informative in times of war, but why do they wear it today and why do they wear it the way they do? I’ll give you one guess. You guessed it, the primary reason for makeup in today’s western world is sexual attractiveness.
Consider what happens to a face with no makeup when that human is sexually aroused. Blood rushes to the face causing flushing and inducing swelling which reduces epidemic lines reducing indications of age. The lips plump up, increase in sensitivity, and they redden along with the blushing of their cheeks. Their pupils dilate and their eyes widen. Their chin drops a bit and their gaze now appears upwards indicating submission and acceptance. The mouth parts a bit to allow for deeper breaths to oxygenate the blood for heightened awareness and overall sensational acuity. The face moistens with slight perspiration to counter the body heat that is developing. Body language shifts indicating a physical invitation as pheromones make their way across the room to elicit a similar reaction in the potential mate.
In terms of makeup, this is achieved with eyeliner, eyeshadow, blush, lipstick, foundation, sheen, glitter, and perfume. It’s all designed to do one thing, present a state of heightened sexual arousal to a sea of Wpotential mates, to make more babies, to better ensure the survival of the human species. It is also an attention acquisition tool of the ego.
Let us now consider our innocent little daughters and nieces skipping off to a cheer competition at the ripe old age of 9, drenched in thick and obnoxious face paint, made to look much older and mature than they are or ought to be. We say, “Yeah, but it’s cute.” How about, no it’s not. It unconsciously elicits sexual arousal in grown men whether they consciously acknowledge it or not. This is what it is designed to do and that is what it does. There are many studies showing the unconscious sexual arousal in male brains even when they find the female unattractive or morally unacceptable to their conscious minds. Don’t take my word for it, research it yourself.
Why are we so negative and self-loathing? Again, we can sum this one up to survival. Imagine what it was like to be a roaming human scavenger. Constantly seeking a meal or trying to avoid becoming one. If existence was that scary, unpredictable, and frightening, isn’t it easy to imagine that to allow oneself to relax quite possibly equated death? To come to a place of contentment and peace meant you were letting your guard down. When your guard is down, you become vulnerable. When you become vulnerable, you die.
So, we literally have millions of years of basil programming that says, remain in a state of unease. To be in a constant state of negativity bias equals survival. “This situation isn’t looking so good, I must be prepared for imminent death. I must not relax. I must not be at peace. I must be prepared to run or defend myself and my tribe.” With today’s culture and no need to prepare for imminent death, we turn this process inward and feel a persistent state of unease we call negativity. Unfortunate, isn’t it? Unfortunate, but real for each one of us.
Our brains are energy hogs, it utilizes much of the body’s total energy reserves. If our brains had to process all the information coming in from all the stimuli, our brains would literally explode with incomprehension. So, what do we do to offset the tsunamis of data processing? Our brains categorize, compartmentalize, and capitalize on the shortcut of assumption and predictability. Without assumption and our brains “fill in the blank” processing, our energy stores would deplete with a few thoughts.
Our brains take pre-programmed DNA information along with life experience and “predict” most of what our senses tell us to efficiently utilize energy. The problem here is that we take the ancient process of judgment (that we used for climbing, running, and building) and make a social accusation through our hair-trigger assumptive processing. And due to the mechanics of our ego, which we will investigate shortly, we assume, accuse, and amplify the otherness of others, coupled with our negativity bias and the polarizing effects of categorical thinking and you’ve now truly reached the core of one of the most misaddressed topics the world struggles with every single day – racism.
However, racism is a scapegoat for a much, much bigger problem of the human condition, the elusive and ever so clever – ego…