Tuesday, April 12, 2011

WWH ~~ Wake'N'Bake 101; Biology

Did Cell Phones Unleash Our Inner Rudeness? is the provocative question posed by the hed to this piece on the CNN blog today. Like the blessedly deceased Ronnie Raygun's last underpants, it dependz.

Dr. Woody is not a cell-fone communicant. He basically regards "Tweet" and "Twitter" to be the last, faint cries of our dying rhetorical canaries at the bottom of the technological coal-mine. Once, in the earliest swell of the boom, before all the "apps," and the i-pad, etc., I had a cell-fone. It made fone-calls. And answered them. So, I should best be regarded as a dedicated Luddite in the wonders thereof.

Nor am I a human ecologist*, but after rooting around for some decades in the periphery of the cellular communications revolution, I have a theory: it seems to me that the biggest reason for the success of the cell-fone is rooted in the biology of humans and our anthropoid and simian evolutionary and genetic progenitors.

Field Trip!

Remember the last time you visited a zoo? Did you go to the monkey house/enclosure? If so, you will have noticed that the din, of howl, and hoot, and shriek and cry, is ceaseless. Each and every monkey seems intent upon out-shouting it's neighbor, no matter they're of different species in different cages. The hullaballoo and hub-bub never stops.

I think that's because hollering-out to your species-mates is hard-wired into your hypocampus. For all simians, and their later evolutionary off-shoots, because of their brains and their social organization, there are two things that matter: one's membership in their troop, and one's status therein. Their cries and howls and displays are ways of demonstrating the truth of the former--affiliation--and of soliciting affirmation of the latter--status.

Pay attention to the folks who cannot, it seems, proceed 10 feet without initiating or answering a call. There is something of the hooting chimp about them, much of the time. Their conversations are never soft, but trumpeted through the ether. as if declaring all the immediate space their own personal domains? Humans of the dispensation that created cell-fones are almost uniformly of the opinion that, because it includes them, their species alone has any true significance. And that, of their species, as of here an now, they are the most important members of th species, and need to demonstrate that truth to the lesser mortals in their dominion.

Cell fones provide these poor simian-throwbacks the opportunity for constant reassurance that they are part of their group, and that they are important in that group.

See? Biology...

*Human ecology: See, e.g., Paul Shepard's work; he invented the field.

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