Possibly, like me, you’re reading this in a warm, safe place and are free from any kind of danger or hazardous conditions. If so, you’re probably fortunate to live in a society that is safe and secure where you don’t have to worry about finding enough food, warmth or shelter. This is a very good thing as it enables us to do things other than fight and struggle for our survival.
However, like many things, this comes with its drawbacks. The availability of food has led to most wealthy nations having problems with obesity and the development of highly sophisticated technology such as streaming services, the internet and video games has contributed to a decline in many people’s attention spans and participation in physical activity.
The portrayal of humans as fat, round blobs that move around on levitating seats and are entirely dependent on machines in the Pixar film WALL-E could be an accurate prediction of the future of humanity.
This is probably one key factor in why the quality of men’s sperm count has declined over the past few decades. These developments may also explain our obsession with safety which has contributed to the hypersensitivity that is prevalent in political debates and the ubiquity of political correctness. Direct conflict is avoided in favour of indirect conflict and the constant policing of language.
The connection between our modern, technological age and the so-called ‘crisis of masculinity’ has been explored regularly in the past few decades such as the book and film Fight Club and Jack Donovan’s description of the ‘bonobo masturbation society’ in his book The Way of Men. In The Ape That Understood the Universe, Steve Stewart-Williams also mentions how more dependent we’re becoming on technology and how it’s made us much more weaker than other animals like chimpanzees.
How do men thrive in a society that no longer values distinctive male qualities like physical strength? In the past, the comforts that were available to most people were often only possible if humans, usually male humans, used their physicality to provide them. But technology has taken the place in being the source of most of our comforts, so the question remains: how do we find value in human physicality?
One answer is to not place too much importance on comfort and being comfortable. Things may seem good now but catastrophe can strike and societies can suddenly collapse. The Covid-19 pandemic, whether or not you think that the response to it has been largely an overreaction, shows how something out of nowhere can derail societies and undermine the comfort and safety people take for granted. Being comfortable has its benefits but it can also make us unprepared and unhealthy not just physically but mentality. You can be a fat blob like in WALL-E or asleep and oblivious to reality like in The Matrix. Stepping out of your comfort zone helps you to prepare for potential dangers in the future.
Some things that may help you from getting too comfortable include:
- Exposing yourself to cold water by having cold showers/baths rather than hot ones.
- Walking/cycling to get around – instead of or alongside – driving.
- Fasting on occasion to decrease over-dependency on food.
- Exercising to maintain and improve physical health.
Don’t get me wrong, I prefer to live in a society where I can be comfortable to a certain degree. Nobody, if given the choice, would choose to live in a cave wearing minimal clothing and with no source of warmth or other resources necessary for survival. I’m just as guilty as a lot of other people in eating food that I know isn’t good for me in the long run and spending too much time watching TV or playing video games. Time I spent being comfortable could have been spent doing other more productive things.
What I’ve suggested isn’t dangerous or heroic and might seem mundane but I believe it’s helped me at least to shake off being too complacent and docile. I’ve fallen back into getting too comfortable from time to time but I’ve been trying to practice what I’m preaching here more often as well.
I recommend that others do the same and don’t worship comfort too much.