I think this is an interesting question because lately, most of our talk is about how far humans have come in such a relatively short time. How much we’ve evolved, how quickly our society has advanced, and just generally how much things have changed in just a couple of generations.
There are some things that have never changed, though, and below are 17 things we haven’t found a better way to do…yet.
17. Something hypnotic.
Poke fire with a stick.
There’s certainly something hypnotic about a fire. It’s like some primal gene that makes you shut off your brain and rest.
My couch faces my woodstove, and to the right there is a TV. My girlfriend was like, “Uh… why isn’t the couch facing the tv?”. Because I like watching the fire.
She thought that was really weird.
16. Kids are pure.
Probably a lot of the things that young children do fall in this category.
Playing with a stick in the yard. Just running for the fun of it. S*%tting themselves.
15. The Romans did it, too.
Using string lines in construction. The best way to see if something is perfectly strait it with a string pulled tight. Also if that string is covered in chalk, it will “draw” straight lines for you. I used it almost daily before I left the trade.
Sometimes the simplest way is the best way.
And using plumb bobs. The only other answers I consider valid or mostly valid are petting dogs, prostitution, and the one I came up with: eating boogers. Everything else has been effected by technology
14. We’ve always been pensive.
Throwing rocks into bodies of water.
13. The wonderful stars.
Stare up at the night sky.
I live in India and the one time I was stunned was when I saw the sky in Australia (Philip Island Penguin park). The sky was literally lit up with MILLIONS of stars, a whole band of them which I was informed by a janitor was the Milky Way.
I stood in the parking lot for ages taking in the sight. For me the most breathtaking thing about other countries is how wonderful the stars look, second only to how clean and crisp the air is.
12. At the end of the day.
For a really human activity… sweeping.
I had this idea two decades while sweeping a big ol’ warehouse with only the winter-sunset light through the bay doors. Suddenly felt like part of a fraternity- the long tradition of guys sweeping warehouses out at the end of the day.
There’s some passage from some long-forgotten (by me) book about the only thing separating civilization from the wilderness is folks sweeping the grit back out at the end of the day.
It was about the fall of some Fertile Crescent city, maybe Babylon? Centuries of being an imperial capitol, completely reclaimed by the desert within a year of the marauders coming through and slaughtering anybody who gave a s*%t to push a broom.
Here’s to keeping the metaphorical desert at bay.
11. The tools are the same.
Process/burnish leather, apparently. Apparently, the tools haven’t really changed from the first bone scrapers.
Read a story where archeologists found a weird looking piece of smooth bone. A leather worker saw it and said. “Oh that’s a burnisher. Here is the one i use.” If I’m not mistaken. His was bone too.
10. Someone cared for them.
I forget who the anthropologist was, but they were asked what the earliest sign of civilization was, and they answered that a set of humanoid remains was found with a femur fracture that was healed, and that to them that was the earliest sign of “civilization.” Because instead of leaving that individual to die, someone cared for them.
They set the bone, fed them, helped them relieve themselves, kept them warm and safe. They were allowed to heal from an injury that is almost certainly fatal in wild animals. And that act of caring for a sick and injured person for a long stretch of time (femur fractures take a long time to heal) and kept them with the group even though they probably were permanently disabled by the injury was a sign of true civilization.
9. Remembering the dead.
Putting flowers at graves. Which we may have learned from Neanderthals.
In the last 5-6 years it was discovered that Homo Naledi actually had burial rituals and ancient pollen was discovered at a burial site when soil samples were analyzed.
What makes this significant is that this pushes the time frame back when Anthropologists thought that burial rituals started. Which makes that significantly more interesting that we, as in us on earth, have been doing that for something like 250,000 years.
8. A task that is never finished.
We’ve been tearing out weeds since early agriculture and we STILL haven’t figured out a way better than our hands. Roundup just kills them and makes them easier to pull up. Also it’s toxic.
And you can’t spot weed with a weed whacker. It’s hands only.
7. Because of the moon?
The most surprising one to me is living by a 7-day week. There’s an unbroken chain of 7-day weeks going back two millennia. And earliest evidence that hints of people living by a 7-day cycle goes back four millennia.
Maybe we see the moon and think “yeah that is best split up into four quarters” almost unanimously?
6. It’s hard to stop doing, too.
Rocking babies with that innate rhythm.
Cleaning toddlers faces by licking your thumb and wiping.
5. I love kneading dough.
Making bread by hand you can’t help but feel connected to past generations. Sewing and embroidery too.. drawing.
I love kneading the dough. All the stress drains away. And I’m so very proud of the yeastie beasties when they manage to raise the dough nice and high, above the pan edges!
4. That’s biology.
The butt pat that every single newborn loves.
heard it simulates the vibrations of the mother’s heartbeat inside the womb.
I don’t know how accurate that fact was but I always tried to use a ‘heartbeat rhythm’ when getting my kids to sleep.
3. Since we’ve worn clothes.
Sewing. Needles are still pretty much the same since the beginning.
2. It just makes sense.
Podcast about the oldest words says that the basic word “Ma” for mother is probably the oldest word.
I mean that’s the first sound babies make because physiology and they are probably looking at their moms when they say it so it just makes sense.
1. Basic news.
There’s a word we use for this: socialization, which is the transfer of culture through human interaction. This can be done through education, training, but also small everyday interactions like gossip. By using gossip, people remind each other of social norms.
Consequently, if they find they agree on these norms (they are both shocked because their friend did whaaaat?!), gossip can strengthen social cohesion (the interpersonal bonds that hold society together like glue). However, gossip comes with a risk: what if the person you’re telling your hot gossip to isn’t shocked at all?
Even worse, they take the friend’s side on this! Now they’re looking at you funny. Apparently you didn’t understand the social norms that are dominant within your group of friends, and now you’re branded a weirdo. Oh, the horror, there goes your status!
I mean, there’s something to be said for “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it,” right?
What else do you think belongs on this list? If it’s not here, give us your argument down in the comments!