The rationale we love to collect across the TV lies in Stone Age embers

Watching TV and gazing flickering flames produce comparable physiological results, providing intriguing clues to the enduring energy of leisure – and the origins of sociability


16 December 2020

LAST yr, it was Frozen. This yr, it is likely to be Eight Under. A vacation through the lengthy, chilly Michigan winter is an opportunity for my household to spend some high quality time collectively. And what higher solution to get pleasure from our evenings than by watching films on TV?

Some may name this a waste of time. Anthropologist Christopher Lynn begs to vary. He believes there’s a good purpose why many people like gathering across the fool field. Removed from being frivolous, it’s a legacy of a behaviour that arose to assist people survive the unforgiving Stone Age world.

It’s tempting to see human evolution by way of the prism of technological breakthroughs that introduced tangible materials advantages. When our ancestors discovered to make projectile weapons, as an illustration, they might hunt extra successfully and safe extra dependable sources of meat. Softer elements of life, such because the methods we socialise, might sound much less necessary to the success of our species. However Lynn, who relies on the College of Alabama, says we socialise not as a result of we prefer to, however as a result of we have to.

Which will appear apparent to anybody who has struggled with isolation throughout lockdown this yr. However Lynn goes additional nonetheless. He thinks that the pleasure we achieve from stress-free across the TV with family and friends may assist clarify why humanity turned so social within the first place. All of it started, he says, when our ancestors discovered to manage hearth.

We have now identified for many years that using hearth remodeled life for early people. It allowed them to cook dinner meals, for …

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