Elsewhere I’ve discussed my theory that people who live in big cities and people who live in small towns have become operationally different species. There’s nothing biological here except perhaps if there’s some genetic component concerning which lifestyle you prefer. When humans adapt to a new technology or a new living arrangement (in the community sense) they have altered their strategy of life significantly enough that if some other animal could make an equivalent change they would be deemed a subspecies of the wild type. So from nomad tribes to tiny farming villages to cities of millions is a tremendous change …of script. If you could time travel to the neolithic, scoop up one of an infant pair of twins and return to the present, that baby would grow up embracing a level of complexity and social energy that would make his brother or sister go catatonic if they encountered it.
We are a meta adaptor species. We are an evolutionary cyborg embracing technological transformation. While we embrace the techno change our fundamental species script full of animal reactions hasn’t changed a jot. If a baby from modern times was whisked back to replace that other neolithic baby he wouldn’t grow up puzzled at the technology or the social rules. On this level we have a “just go with it” rule letting us imprint culture like baby ducks imprint Momma.
Well there’s another interesting thing about virtual speciation, we might think of it as a second level of adaptation. Within every human community division of labor is key to operation..we might almost call it the reason for community. Metaphorically if we imagine the village as an animal made up of the different functions performed by the people we can start to see what’s going on. This is almost like organ and tissue differentiation. The village is a virtual organism (as was the wandering tribe) if it’s script fails the organism dies, as do it’s human components. By always embracing ANY technology that excites us we are finding pathways out of a dead end script. We are opening up pathways to new versions of what human means.
Within a large city a higher level of complexity leads to many more “organs” and roles played. In fact a city becomes a virtual biome made up of encounters and transactions that ping pong into other encounters and transactions beyond imagining. Most of these involve money which is like the red blood cell or ATP here, here giving life and energizing the system. The humans living here become to each other a kind of virtual flora and fauna of other species. There are 9 to 5 grazers and Wall street carnivores. There are busy little beaver store owners and bird of paradise fabulous folk. There are also criminal hyenas feasting on the unwary.
It’s a jungle out there.
But ultimately, helicoptering high above the one to one encounters, the city as a whole emerges once again as kind of distinct organism and from this level we are more like cells doing our part for our own reasons. It is a hive full of fairly single minded individuals who build it from the bottom up with their daily actions. Humans are unconsciously always building toward greater complexity and higher level connections. It’s what we do. Though heart wrenching cruelty can be found everywhere we are, the obvious trend line across time is toward peace and freedom.
Whatever hard knocks we suffer moment to moment it IS getting better and it is getting more interesting. Some of the very harsh battles that seem to loom right now may be certain issues coming a head with surprising outcomes that can lead to the next step up. I’m not a pollyanna, but my eyes are on the long term and it makes me optimistic.