on Jan 31, 2006
A while ago I was talking about how our civilization is greatly shaped and often dominated by our base instincts. In that post I was talking about our drive to “protect the children”, which has been an excuse for a lot of really destructive behavior.
But that is, in many ways, peanuts compared to the drive of males to compete and dominate. This business of blaming it on video games, movies, and sports is bizzare and infuriatingly counter-productive. Take a peek at nature. I think people would be shocked at just how much of our violent behavior is a result of base, primitive drives that reflect behaviors we see in animals. Even the most timid, rotund little accountant has the genes for skull-splitting combat buried beneath all the layers of civilization.
Think about the first time your girlfriend was attracted to another guy. How did you feel? Upset that she was so feckless? If you were a teenager, you probably wanted to kick his ass, even though that doesn’t make any sense. That’s the same wiring used when males needed to compete, via combat, for the right to mate. Now there it is in your 15-year-old civilized brain and you don’t know what to do with it.
You can’t educate these drives away, and the next best thing is to find a non-destructive way in which to satisfy those primal urges. Sports are another way to accomplish this.
We have other base drives, and we (ahem) manage to satisfy those even when we’re not in a position to actually mate. Take sports and games out of our lives, and those primal combat drives will still be there, but we will be without the tools to deal with them.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.