One year. 100 articles. So we're having a Reader's Party. Come along to Upsidecrown.
Heavy traffic on the road to Utopia
28 September 2000
I can't hear the cultural phenomenon as it happens but I see it while I'm watching the two girls on the bridge over the motorway, and just as a gust of wind unfortunately does not lift their skirts they wave at the drivers of the cars passing below them -- or the cars themselves, it's difficult to be sure.
It's a relic of an infant habit, one that appears to be a part of the normal socialisation of the human being but is actually an emergent property of the interplay of society and how we regard society. Note, aside to audience, N.B.: By 'we' it is not meant 'society'. I talk of the individual before (and the initialisation of during) social interaction, and how they regard the mass of humanity from the outside looking in (a place each of us is in once and one only).
This habit, this greeting of traffic, evolves separately in so many of us; I argue that it is not symptomatic of our civilisation, but actually indicative of the direction humanity possesses (furthermore: an indicator which has only become available in the last century), a fundamental and important pointer. That these young women repeat it, well out of infancy (strikingly so, although, alas, the wind is frustratingly not quite strong enough to grant me a view of their pants) and the associated social induction, is testament to the strength of the engram during their formative years.
Then, we must ask: what is waving? A wave is a tug I make from your universe into mine. One waves to start a relationship, an interaction; a wave is an information ripple in the noosphere, and if you see it then I am part of your experience. You are simply your experiences, summed and cross-multiplied. Now add in my wave -- you are no longer perfect and undilute, you are partially me. I have penetrated your existence.
And so, to counterattack, to even the balance: you wave back.
The wave spreads the individual's phenotype. It is an Evolutionary Stable Strategy to have as many interactions for memetic reproduction as possible. We all lust to be on the left side of the bell curve: The most successful of us can reach the world in only 5 degrees. So, we wave, we wave, we wave.
But waste not that wave on the feeble minded, the weak. The weak! -especially. There weren't so many niches in the now Amazonian meme-space when humanity shat on the African savannah. The waves would flock towards the strong and most likely to survive. We strive after relationships with those who would protect us.
And cars are strong. And fast. They're large, loud, powerful, have lengthy lifespans, and can kill with ease. A human child of the age of two has not the capacity in its plastic brain to see that while the qualities are present the form is wrong. The brain sets, and the patterns in place decades later cause traffic-greeting among young female adults (with tremendous thighs, visibly obvious despite the wind refusing to acknowledge - or, for that matter, even confirm - their true length and beauty).
Much more serious are lorries and fire-engines.
So now we must step carefully backwards through the broken glass of my thesis. Small children automatically wave to socialise themselves, using instructions hardcoded in the brain; said waving occurs preferentially towards discrete things (be they individuals or objects) bearing qualities evolution found necessary in human proto-society. Thus we may deduce the basic qualities upon which every human society is founded: And we find that those qualities are to be found in the car.
I need not emphasise how dangerous this is. I need not point out how lucky humanity is to have progressed so far on values so violently out of touch with civilisation 18 thousand years after the last (and most pivotal) ice age. Something, and I resort to cliché making no excuse given the serious nature of the situation, must be done.
Madam, Sir: There is nothing we can do for our children to change their innate behaviour short of in-vitro genetic manipulation and/or selective breeding, coupled with, I dare say, extensive Electro-Convulsive Therapy for the under-10s and widespread inner-city and suburban traffic calming measures (speedbumps, cameras, road narrowing and the like).
Naturally, I would suggest none of the above. Instead, there are steps we must take as individuals.
Do not drive. The less exposure babies and infants have to cars, the less they will see their qualities as a usual and widespread component of our society. To view these attributes is normal is to regard a lifestyle of hate and force as optimum.
Slap waving children. Associate pain with the qualities of speed and size. A society must be built on truth, intelligence, morality, exactitude, care and calculation, resolution, mental agility.
Use armoured artificial intelligence exo-skeletons as primary transportation. The child desires the automobile to be a friend through no fault of its own, so we must turn the brain's mental search for light to our advantage by introducing it to objects which embrace but surpass the car -- emphasising, as we must, human qualities we want to select for such as judgement and observation. We must turn to robots if we are to find suitable role-models for our children.
Witness the glory of our civilisation in spite of these rotten foundations, and consider the heights to which we may rise made free of these shackles of speed and force. Give up your car, and surely we shall be on the high road to a new Utopia.