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 Now a song is out of date and almost forgotten in just a few years.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.
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.