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Thanks to whoever sent me this whose email I tried to find but couldn't because I was mid-bender when I marked this to write about last night. Geekologie is a geek blog dedicated to the scientific study of gadgets, gizmos, and awesome. The first day I was in second grade, I came to school and noticed that there was a new, very pretty girl in the class—someone who hadn’t been there the previous two years. The news quickly got back to Alana herself, who stayed as far away from me as possible for days after.
This horrifying experience taught me a critical life lesson—it can be mortally dangerous to be yourself, and you should exercise extreme social caution at all times. Evolution does everything for a reason, and to understand the origin of this particular insanity, let’s back up for a minute to 50,000BC in Ethiopia, where your Great2,000 Grandfather lived as part of a small tribe. Because of this, humans evolved an over-the-top obsession with what others thought of them—a craving for social approval and admiration, and a paralyzing fear of being disliked.
Your Great2,000 Grandfather’s Social Survival Mammoth was central to his ability to endure and thrive.
Our bodies and minds are built to live in a tribe in 50,000BC, which leaves modern humans with a number of unfortunate traits, one of which is a fixation with tribal-style social survival in a world where social survival is no longer a real concept.
Why else would you try on four outfits and still not be sure what to wear before going out? And while keeping your highly insecure Social Survival Mammoth feeling calm and safe takes a lot of work, that’s only one half of your responsibilities. Society has evolved to accommodate this mammoth-feeding frenzy, inventing things like accolades and titles and the concept of prestige in order to keep our mammoths satisfied—and often to incentivize people to do meaningless jobs and live unfulfilling lives they wouldn’t otherwise consider taking part in. With so much thought and energy dedicated to the mammoth’s needs, you often end up neglecting someone else in your brain, someone all the way at the center—your Authentic Voice.
And while the mammoth looks only to the outside world in its decision-making process, your Authentic Voice uses the outside world to learn and gather information, but when it’s time for a decision, it has all the tools it needs right there in the core of your brain. And since our 50,000-year-old brains are wired to give the mammoth a whole lot of sway in things, your Authentic Voice starts to feel like it’s irrelevant. In tribal times, AVs often spent their lives in quiet obscurity, and this was largely okay.
But in today’s large, complex world of varying cultures and personalities and opportunities and options, losing touch with your AV is dangerous. Losing touch with your AV also makes you fragile, because when your identity is built on the approval of others, being criticized or rejected by others really hurts. Likewise, you know those people who react to being criticized by coming back with a nasty low-blow?
At this point, the mission should be clear—we need to figure out a way to override the wiring of our brain and tame the mammoth.
Some people are born with a reasonably tame mammoth or raised with parenting that helps keep the mammoth in check. Most of the time a mammoth is in control of a person, the person’s not really aware of it. The most obvious way to find the mammoth is to figure out where your fear is—where are you most susceptible to shame or embarrassment?
The second place a mammoth hides is in the way-too-good feelings you get from feeling accepted or on a pedestal over other people. Real Woolly Mammoths were unimpressive enough to go extinct, and Social Survival Mammoths aren’t any better. When people shit-talk, they set up a category division of which they’re always on the right side. Being the material a judgy person uses to feel good about themselves is a fairly infuriating thought—but it has no actual consequences and it’s clearly all much more about the judgy person and their mammoth problem than it is about you. The irony of the whole thing is that the obsessive lumbering mammoth isn’t even good at his job. This also holds among friends or colleagues, where AV-run people are more respected and more magnetic—not because there’s necessarily anything extraordinary about them, but because people respect someone with the strength of character to have tamed their mammoth. Absorbing this thought will diminish the fear that you feel, and without fear, the mammoth loses some power. With a weakened mammoth, it becomes possible to begin standing up for who you are and even making some bold changes—and when you watch those changes turn out well for you with few negative consequences and no regrets, it reinforces the epiphany and an empowered AV becomes a habit. I’ve always been a person who believes it is important to form your own, well founded opinion, but especially when it came to (dating) women I would be obsessed about what they might think of me etc. You keep saying how small we are compared to time and the universe, and I keep saying you could totally be alive for the next billion years.


This is obviously a topic of debate but it’s probably safe to assume that you, when given the change, will always prefer some things over others. Well, along with teaching people to be themselves we need to teach people to accept other people being themselves.
But your comment is definitely something that was missing from the original post so thank you also for adding that!
It was simple—keep the mammoth well fed with social approval and pay close attention to its overwhelming fears of nonacceptance, and you’ll be fine. The mammoth also needs to be fed regularly and robustly—with praise, approval, and the feeling of being on the right side of any social or moral dichotomy.
Mammoths look around at society to figure out what they’re supposed to do, and when it becomes clear, they jump right in.
A Puppet Master is a person or group of people whose opinion matters so much to you that they’re essentially running your life. When we get to this toxic state in our relationship with a Puppet Master, that person’s presence hangs over our entire decision-making process and pulls the strings of our opinions and our moral voice.
In contrast to the black-and-white simplicity of the Social Survival Mammoth, your Authentic Voice is complex, sometimes hazy, constantly evolving, and unafraid. Life was simple, and conformity was the goal—and the mammoth had conformity covered just fine. A bad break-up is painful for everyone, but it stings in a much deeper place for a mammoth-run person than for a person with a strong AV. Those tend to be severely mammoth-run people, and criticism makes them so mad because mammoths cannot handle criticism. Others die without ever reining their mammoth in at all, spending their whole lives at its whim.
It takes some serious reflection to sift through the webs of other people’s thoughts and opinions and figure out who the real you actually is. Maybe you can reflect on this from whatever chair you’re sitting in right now or from some other part of your normal life—or maybe you need to go somewhere far away, by yourself, and step out of your life in order to effectively examine it. What parts of your life do you think about and a dreadful, sinking feeling washes over you? The thing we all need to do is carve out certain sacred areas of our lives that must be in the hands of the AV and free of mammoth influence.
Despite the fact that they haunt us so, our mammoths are dumb, primitive creatures who have no understanding of the modern world. It’s a classic mammoth mistake to fabricate a vision of future social consequences that is way worse than what actually ends up happening—which is usually nothing at all. If you find yourself making decisions partially based on not being talked badly about by a judgy person, think hard about what’s actually going on and stop. His methods of winning approval may have been effective in simpler times, but today, they’re transparent and off-putting.
The only time a mammoth-crazed person is appealing on a first date is when they’re on the date with another mammoth-crazed person. You can start to relish the feeling of being viewed as weird or inappropriate or confusing to people, and society becomes your playground and blank canvas, not something to grovel before and hope for acceptance from.
Your Authentic Voice has been given one life—and it’s your job to make sure it gets the opportunity to live it. Last year I decided I would at least try to stop giving a damn about what anyone thinks of me – and it has been trully liberating. What if we all have endless ‘voices’ in our head, constantly shaping our identity through dialogues? Iv’e seen this idea from Tim articulated by someone else, a very old and dead psychologist called Kazimier Dabrowski.
I first heard of him aproximately a year ago and there was definetly a lot of recognition going on just like now with this superbly written article.
This 100%… Sometimes people get so lost in OTHER people accepting them as they are, that we forget to also extend the same thoughtful courtesy to others. So for your Great2,000 Grandfather, almost nothing in the world was more important than being accepted by his fellow tribe members, especially those in positions of authority. A Puppet Master is often a parent, or maybe your significant other, or sometimes an alpha member of your group of friends. Your AV has its own, nuanced moral code, formed by experience, reflection, and its own personal take on compassion and integrity. When it comes to the most personal questions, instead of digging deep into the foggy center of what you really believe in to find clarity, you’ll look to others for the answers. A strong AV makes a stable core, and after a break-up, that core is still holding firm—but since the acceptance of others is all a mammoth-run person has, being dumped by a person who knows you well is a far more shattering experience.


Most of us are somewhere in the middle—we’ve got control of our mammoth in certain areas of our lives while it wreaks havoc in others. Either way, you’ve got to figure out what actually matters to you and start being proud of whoever your Authentic Voice is. Are you terrified of disappointing your parents and do you choose making them proud over aiming to gratify yourself? There are obvious areas that need to be made part of the AV’s domain like your choice of life partner, your career path, and the way you raise your kids. This is one of those simple things—if they truly selflessly love you, they will for sure come around and accept everything once they see that you’re happy. The modern world is an AV’s world, and if the mammoth wants to thrive socially, he should do the thing that scares him most—let the AV take over. Leadership is natural for most AVs, because they draw their thoughts and opinions from an original place, which gives them an original angle. The last thing a mammoth is going to do is change the status quo because it’s trying so hard to be the status quo. People with a strong AV see through mammoth-controlled people and aren’t attracted to them. But actually doing something after you finish reading this article is a whole different thing. He basicaly held the position that to tame your mammoth and actually listen to your AV you would need some sort of disintegrating experience (usually some event followed by a depression) to actually start down that scary path. Fitting in with those around him and pleasing those above him meant he could stay in the tribe, and about the worst nightmare he could imagine would be people in the tribe starting to whisper about how annoying or unproductive or weird he was—because if enough people disapproved of him, his ranking within the tribe would drop, and if it got really bad, he’d be kicked out altogether and left for dead. But something funny has happened for humans in the last 10,000 years—their civilization has dramatically changed.
It knows how you feel deep down about things like money and family and marriage, and it knows which kinds of people, topics of interest, and types of activities you truly enjoy, and which you don’t. Do you get too excited about being associated with prestigious things or care too much about status? So obsessing over fitting in with any one group is illogical, especially if that group isn’t really who you are.
And if they’re smart and innovative enough, they can change things in the world and invent things that disrupt the status quo. When you give someone a paintbrush and canvas, but the paint is the same exact color as the canvas, they can paint all they want, but they won’t change anything.
A friend of mine was dating a great on-paper guy awhile back but broke things off because she couldn’t quite fall for him. I don’t preach to be a selfish dick, but it is important to know that if you expect others to make you happy, it will never happen, not for the long term anyway! He also knew that if he ever embarrassed himself by pursuing a girl in the tribe and being rejected, she’d tell the other girls about it—not only would he have blown his chance with that girl, but he might never have a mate at all now because every girl that would ever be in his life knew about his lame, failed attempt. Sudden, quick change is something civilization has the ability to do, and the reason that can be awkward is that our evolutionary biology can’t move nearly as fast. Your AV knows that it doesn’t know how your life will or should play out, but it tends to have a strong hunch about the right step to take next. You might not even be aware that you have a mammoth at all or of the extent to which your Authentic Voice has been silenced. Is there anything you regularly spend money on that you don’t feel that comfortable with? If you were giving advice to yourself, which parts of your life would clearly need a change that you’re avoiding acting on right now?
You’ll do all that work, and meanwhile, your actual favorite people are off being friends with each other somewhere else. They’re allowing their mammoth to override their love for you, and they should be adamantly ignored. If you give someone a paintbrush and an empty canvas, they might not paint something good—but they’ll change the canvas in one way or another. So while for most of history, both our social structure and our biology evolved and adjusted at a snail’s pace together, civilization has recently developed the speed capabilities of a hare while our biology has continued snailing along. Do you secretly have an opinion on a political or moral issue you don’t ever voice because people you know will be outraged?



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