Just say no to women

Screenshot anime Ore no Kanojo...

“Don’t get a case of love on the brain!” Men will go to great lengths to impress a beautiful woman (or, failing that, some other woman). Unfortunately the planet could pay the price.

Humans are amazingly intelligent and rational … compared to our furry and feathered friends. But primitive, instinctual tendencies still influence us, and now that we have the power to change the whole planet, this has dramatic effects. We change the climate, unravel food chains, drive thousands of species to extinction. We already have the capacity to erase multicellular life on Earth, and our power is still growing.

In light of this, my worry is not the women as such. My worry is the effect they have on men. Men instinctively try to impress women, and women instinctively encourage it, unless both of them are constantly keeping watch over themselves. There are also other forces pulling in the same direction, notably the need to keep up with the neighbors, to impress our peers. But the strongest motivation is the man’s unceasing drive to impress women, so that he can make at least one of them stay with him.

Modern capitalism – more specifically consumerism – has harnessed this drive. While it is still possible to impress women with physical prowess or rapier wit, modern capitalism has turned these things also into money. As a top athlete you can earn vast amounts of money, and so can a genius inventor who might otherwise be easily overlooked. Unfortunately, this also means someone else is always earning more than you, or may do so next year. To maximize your chance to win and keep a woman, you need to do better, always. If it means the end of life as we know it in some hazy future, well, that’s the way the biosphere crumbles.

Conveniently, the blossoming of consumerism / modern capitalism coincides with general legalization of divorce, and eventually “paperless marriages” – cohabitation – as the norm, as seen in the Nordic countries, the most advanced societies on Earth. It is hard to disagree that humans should have the freedom to leave an unhappy relationship. But the more we are encouraged by society to constantly compare our mates against the elite (as shown on TV), the more relationships become unhappy. And this is wonderful news for the capitalists, who earn money both from your hard work and your hard spending: Knowing that your wife may be gone (or, in Scandinavia, may have locked you out) tomorrow … that certainly spurs a man to do his best. Or if he fails to do so, he will learn his lesson. Unfortunately, doing his best usually means spending more money buying more stuff and dumping more old stuff at a landfill.

It would be an exaggeration to say that humans are like weaver birds, where the male depends on huge, elaborate, decorated nests to attract a mate. We are much more varied than that, and on the individual level the effect may be as good as invincible. But on a global scale, it has a huge effect. Because we are much smarter than the weaver birds, our nests change the whole planet. But because we are not quite smart enough to see through our instincts, there is not much we can do about it.

It is not necessary that all, or even most, men prioritize impressing women over preserving the environment. It is enough that substantially more do it – or more eagerly – than those who have the opposite priority. Opposite, not different. And the facts speak for themselves in that regard.

Celibacy is not a collective solution, obviously. It is a lot of fun on an individual level, and it allows one to see things that the paired must necessarily be blind to just to preserve their sanity and sense of coherent self. But if everyone was like me, this would be the last generation of humans. That would be a tragic loss for the cosmos indeed, since we seem to be the only species that even knows that the cosmos exists!

It is up the women, therefore, to start selecting for ecologically conscious mates, if they want their offspring to roam this (currently) blue and green planet for more than a few decades more. Or alternatively, we may reduce reproduction to a level where humans no longer swarm the planet in the billions. If there were 7 million instead of 7 billions of us, we could all live like Scandinavians without exterminating new species every day. So on that level, yeah, I guess celibacy would work. Just not all at once, please! Heh. Fat chance.

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