Hello blog, it’s been about 2 years and I have some thoughts, more on the psychology side and less so on insider threat, but there are connections to be made. Apologies if this gets stream of consciousness.
First up, work. My last post dealt with the evolution of work and the potential for a universal basic income, so I suppose it makes sense to start here.
I heard a news story this morning about Snag Work. It’s essentially a hiring service for menial labor jobs in the service industry – hotels, food service, and retail. From what I gather, it’s a pretty good set up for people who need and income (all of us) and flexibility (all of us), but hires are treated as 1099s rather than an employee of the work organization.
Never having been a 1099, I wasn’t aware of the lack of legal protections and regulations these work types have, but the counterargument is essentially about the downsides of being a 1099. No unemployment coverage, issues with healthcare coverage, etc.
I could see more and more of society shifting to this kind of gig-work. In many ways it seems inevitable with the amount of automation and reduction of traditional manufacturing labor needs. So perhaps the argument shouldn’t be about the downsides of an increasingly gig-based economy (which seems to go hand in hand with global volatility, doesn’t it?), but rather about if we want to have an economy that works, we need to build more robust and useful social support programs – you know like guaranteed health coverage or a UBI.
I’ll get off that soapbox now… and onto the next.
From the time my children could move about on their own, I’ve noticed how they choose to squat or stand, rather than sit. Increasingly I get the impression sitting is less about comfort and more about group dynamics and institutional control of subordinates. Why do I think this? I’ll get there.
As others have put it, our ancestors have essentially been on a millennia long camping trip only until very recently. Our minds (as I’ve expressed elsewhere) are the result of THAT world and best suited for THOSE purposes, regardless of where we find ourselves today. Our bodies too, are suited for a lifetime of movement, and yet we seem to avoid movement, to nearly enforce sitting or laying down whenever possible, rather than standing or squatting.
I digress. As anyone with kids, or who works with kids will tell you, they have a hard time sitting still. At our home, if one of our kids has a hard time sitting still during dinner, they are welcome to stand. It is not a punishment, it’s a recognition that their body needs to move. Restricting the body, housing the mind, is going to place negative stressors on the mind which will result in some net effect. So why not just stand up?
Back to why I think sitting is about power dynamics – I got a report a certain young man had trouble sitting still in circle time. It’s not a big deal and wasn’t made a big deal of, just noted, but it got me thinking. Why does he need to sit? Can he stand up? Can he squat? So I asked.
The answer, of course, was yes. Kids who want to stand are allowed to in the back of the circle. I get it, there is a certain degree of crowd control required to do anything with more than 2 kids at a time, and distractions are just that. But how about we all just stand then? My guess is, the kids who might want to stand, see it as a punishment because they are nearly removed from the group. In a sense they are the “out group” because they are not acting in sync with what has now been established as the “right” way to act or “in group acceptable norms.” Certainly I’ve seen it as a preferred stander at meetings. Others will practically treat it as a hostage situation if you stand while they sit, trying to cajole you into a seat. I’ve also seen people fall asleep at said meetings, something which happens with much less frequency in standing meetings.
I’m heartened to hear of schools that are experimenting with solutions for kids such as standing desks or pedaling desks, so their bodies can exert the energy necessary to stay in shape – which also means healthier.
On the other hand, I was dumbfounded to learn recently that many people cannot actually squat in place – we have been that trained that muscles are weakened due to lack of use or misuse. I’m no physiologist, but squatting must help posture, reduce tension on the spine, blah, blah – which should result in a positive net effect for our mind.
When we feel better physically, we feel better mentally. When we feel better mentally, we are less likely to be jerks to others, and really isn’t that what the hokey pokey is all about?
In summary – evolutionary psychology is informed by evolutionary physiology. In establishing power dynamics (e.g. “I talk, you listen”; “I important, you not”) we have created cultures which insist upon the suppression of valid physiological needs (e.g. body moves, and in doing so gets exercise, stays healthy). So next time you see me standing next to a chair at a meeting, or squatting at the bus stop, maybe give it a try first and see if you feel better too. Then, pass it along.