The New Natural Selection


Ever have that one friend who seems like he was born a few centuries too late? The guy with 20/20 vision who is abnormally strong and incredibly fast? He’s a normal person day-to-day but can just SNAP when situations get testy and emotions run high. The type of guy who can go out into the woods and find food, build a place to sleep, and survive. The guy who doesn’t necessary look for a fight, but seems to end them, and end them hard. The guy who would have been right at home stomping around some ancient battlefield, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake.

I like to call such guys “the alpha male of years past.” The guy more suited for the Coliseum than the classroom.

Once upon a time those traits meant something. If you had them, you were all but assured success in life. Anatomical and physiological advantages greatly enhanced the chance of survival, of finding (or taking) a mate, and of reproducing. The biggest, baddest guy in the group did what he wanted and bashed in the skull of anybody who said otherwise. It was natural selection at work—not a very sophisticated way of life, but elegant in its simplicity.

In the modern age, however, natural selection has been flipped on its head. We’ve changed what we value as a society to reflect the new world we’ve built—a world of technology, debate, innovation, safety, and convenience. Don’t worry, I much prefer our current way of life over the Cro-Magnon man’s; I just find it interesting to see the type of traits we’re passing on genetically compared to what we once did. For the most part, I’d say the new traits are more in line with intelligence, cunning, and analytical skills. Almost exclusively, the only people who use strength, speed, and aggression to achieve success these days are professional athletes, who are an infinitesimally small percentage of the world’s population.

Interestingly this gets reflected in the reasons modern people marry. Obviously there are a number of them, but generally I’d say it’s either for love, money, or power. We don’t marry for safety anymore, unless it’s for financial safety. We don’t marry for someone to provide for us, at least not in the traditional hunter-gatherer sense. Physical dominance is not nearly as valuable in our society as it once was.

These days, it’s more important to be a good networker than be able to catch and cook a fish. More important to understand interest rates and credit scores than know which berries are safe to eat and which are poisonous. More important to type than to run.

Not so long ago mankind was just another animal, albeit a smart one. We ate what we caught or found ourselves, slept where we felt safest, and killed what we needed to. I wish I could take a peek into mankind’s progress in a few hundred years and see what sort of animal evolution will turn us into.