Tag Archives: sociology

Mutants, Pop Culture & Evolution

I have this theory that the evolution of the human species is a constant and dynamic process, happening as we speak. We are not the finished product of thousands of years of natural selection, but are changing faster than we ever have before. Although in physical form we evolve very slowly, in action and in mind it is a different matter entirely.

Our cultural progress is growing and changing at an exponential rate, meaning we live in a very interesting part of history. Imagine how much society has changed since your grandparent’s were your age? It wasn’t always so fast. In the past cultures changed very slowly over many generations… People would be singing the same songs their great-grandparents taught them. Now a song is out of date and almost forgotten in just a few years.

Think of humanity as like a macro-organism. Similar to a swarm of bees; a group of individuals but united into one thing. In our journey through time and the unknown, it’s safe and sensible to stick with the pack. With the popular. With the normal. That’s why pop culture, and fashion, is cool. Because we know it works, at least for now. But because our environment is always changing, we can’t stay the same. To survive, we have to adapt. We have to evolve. And to evolve, we have to mutate.

Cast your mind back to biology lessons, where you learnt about Darwin’s theory of natural selection and how slight mutations that happened to be adaptive meant a higher chance of survival and reproduction, passing these traits onto future offspring.

Now imagine the macro-organism humanity again. I’ll try to illustrate this with some terrible diagrams which make me wish I had the newest version of Paint.

Some "mutant" or "radical" humans stray from the norm

What some of them find catches on and becomes the norm. Once again, other "mutants" deviate. The process continues.

Radical thinkers stray from the popular norm and experiment with the new. This is risky, but heroic behaviour. Humans are both afraid of, and in love with the New. This is because it can be good or bad, it’s a gamble taken by the brave. The radical humans, or “mutants” as I’m enjoying calling them, are either celebrated or rejected depending on what they discover and how alien to the norm it is.

It’s a process of the mutants running away from the pack and shouting “hey, what about this?!”   rest of humanity scrutinising it and saying “Yeah, fantastic! We’re coming!” or “hell no, you must be crazy!”.

A small example:

In terms of fashion and clothing, it is cool to be on trend, and yet also cool to be unique.

People who religiously dress in nothing but the height of fashion, regardless of what it is, and never experimenting, are judged as being boring “sheep”. They are not contributing to humanity’s artistic urge to express ourselves, they’re just playing safe.

On the other hand, people who dress absurdly differently, e.g. drag queens, extreme Goths, Lady Gaga, are judged as being weird, crazy, freaky etc. This is because although we love deviation and innovation, appreciating its vital status as we do, we are scared of it in large doses.


It’s a delicate balance.

Types of Greenie

I really want someone to ask me, slightly scornfully, if I’m a die hard environmentalist, just so I can say “no, I’m a live gently environmentalist”. Unfortunately this exchange has never come about, but I’ll be ready when the time comes.

I’ve been thinking about the various “types” of greenie, and how different they are. Here’s a slightly tongue-in-cheek guide to the sub groups.

1. The back-to-the-lander – Believes everyone should buy a couple of acres in the country and live self sufficiently. The world’s troubles are due to nasty modern pests like urbanisation, technology and supermarkets, and can be combatted by compost heaps, chickens and soap-making. Inspired by John Seymour and The Good Life. Thinks we need to go back in time to some kind of rustic idyll.

2. The animal lover – Believes animals have a right to life and are not here simply for our use and abuse. Vegan or at least vegetarian, probably also a animal rights activist. Donates to animal sanctuaries and conservation groups. Is at least a bit ashamed of belonging to the human race because of how we’ve trashed the planet and therefore attempts to trash it as little as possible.

3. The health freak – Believes that everything that goes into our bodies should be pure and natural. Organic local food, natural beauty products, pollution free air and natural fabrics are all on their priority list. Probably has recently become a parent and has had a slap in the face realisation that the contemporary Western lifestyle is very very unhealthy.

4. The doomsayer – Not truly an environmentalist, but more somebody that loves the sensationalized “We’re all f***ed!” aspect of our current situation. Likes to talk about the worst-case scenarios and what could be done in apocalyptic disasters, such as climate change forcing us back into some kind of hellish dark age.

5. The wholesome hippie – Believes in doing the best they can. Grows their own vegetables, buys everything secondhand, repairs everything, is a member of Friends of the Earth. The generation that got involved with the green movement in the 70s and now has grown up and lucky children.

6. The “all talk” hippie – Believes that it’s what you say and think that matters, not what you do. Will procrastinate for hours with their friends over an organic peppermint tea, but actually just does whatever they find convenient not what they think is best for the planet.

7. The Eco geek – Believes technology will save us. Thinks if we play our cards right, we can invent ourselves out of disaster and into a future golden age where we’re so advanced we all live like kings and yet are in harmony with nature. Hydrogen run cars, super efficient renewable energy systems, hydroponic vertical urban farms… Just open up your imagination.

8. The Transitioner – A member of the ‘transition movement’. Believes if we work together in a localised and practical fashion, we can get through these hard times. Likely to be positive and active, a breath of fresh air to old crusty pessimists and a welcoming bridge to straight-laced “I care but I don’t know what to do”ists.

9. The angry pessimist – Believes nothing is good enough. Has been caring too much for too long, knows too much about too many problems and has got bitter. Will put down any attempt at environmental action as hypocritical, fluffy or ineffective. Although their hearts are in the right place, these environmentalists often unwittingly do more harm than good.

10. The cool eco chick – Believes in being seen to be green. Changes their light bulbs and carries a “Don’t Panic, It’s Organic” canvas tote around, but it pretty much ends there. Celebrities that jump about the globe in private jets and yet rock up to the Oscars with a hybrid SUB and a dress by Lynda Macartney fall into this category.


What group do you fit into?

Have you any more in mind that I’ve neglected to include?