On being human (or at least some “random” bits thereof)

Some fundamental “needs”/desires of humans (… well at least for most, anyway).

Touch / physical contact. For better or worse, something evolved into the nature of being human. Some kind of touch / physical contact, most notably with other human(s), is pretty near to “absolute necessity”. This is probably most demonstrably noted with infants – it takes more than just food, air, right temperature, changing of diapers, etc. – not much of a stretch to say, that without the human contact, infants wither up and die – or certainly at least quite fail to thrive. Well, at least typically, even for adults, I don’t think that general characteristic ever (entirely) goes away. So, … at least some touch/contact is generally good/useful/beneficial, if not downright important or more. That also leaves our Western (so called) “civilization”, with it’s relatively anti-touch nature, seemingly rather mis-fitted to basic human “need”, and generally even more so between adult males, particularly with all the homophobia, etc. E.g., by way of comparison, in some cultures, males who are friends, holding hands would not be at all unusual, but even quite common. Perhaps too, with all the “personal space”, increasingly ((over-?)zealous) anti-harassment (d)evolvement, etc. – and it often going quite beyond deterring/preventing harassment, this only drives things to be increasingly more anti-touch. E.g., it’s rather, if not quite to the point, where the only typically generally acceptable customary touch is the handshake, and with all the anti-germ phobias and over-concerns and hygiene issues etc., maybe even handshakes will fall out-of-favor and all but disappear (perhaps replaced with bow). Even law, e.g. “touching without consent is assault” seems at least a wee bit overly broad and “too” anti-touch. Heh, … and lawyers and law don’t necessarily make things better. E.g. legal and human resources advice, if not outright policies, tend to be “don’t touch” – period – or at least strongly recommending such. What next? Seems if such continues with logical extension and such, wouldn’t it next be, “If at all possible, do not get within 2 meters of any other homo sapien, and only allow such if and when all the relevant approved wavier of consent to less than 2 meters proximity forms have been signed, witness signed, notarized, validated, filed and registered, and only when it includes all the details of allowed and non-allowed behaviors and/or contact within 2 meter proximity, and all the exacting conditions under which each is and isn’t permissible.”. Seems like quite a mess – particularly compared relative to human “need”, and also generally, at least somewhat, trending in the “wrong” direction. Not that there aren’t legitimate problems to “prevent”, solve, address, etc., but … Perhaps what’s needed is much more advanced communication. Much of the “consent” communication, around “personal space”, touch, etc. (what is/isn’t “okay” and consented to, with who, when, where, how, etc.) is largely non-verbal. While fairly effective, that’s an area that typically is fraught with hazards and potential miscommunications/misinterpretations, recanting, etc. Perhaps what would be “ideal” would be a much more effective and unambiguous communication – or stream of communication, about what is or would be “okay” and/or not, and continuous update of same, as relevant, and including preferences, likes, dis-likes, desires, aversions, etc. Maybe we’ll eventually evolve and/or develop that, but at least presently we’re quite a ways from it.

Being understood. Seems quite to me (and probably many others), that a fundamental “need”/desire, is to be understood. Not necessarily by anyone and/or everyone, but at least someone(s). And too, not necessarily “everything”, but at least some, to potentially quite many things, that are important/significant to a person. Perhaps this is typically most acute in/around adolescence and young adulthood, but also remains generally present. In any case, folks want to be understood – by at least someone – or more than one. There tends to be a lot of the “you don’t get me” types of isolation/loneliness/despair, etc. when one feels understood by no one or not (sufficiently) well at all, or by “far too few”. Being listened to, heard, or really heard – mostly also part of same.

Being useful. Folks want to be useful, valued, appreciated. Seems rather yet another fundamental “need”. People tend to quite want to feel that in some, at least small, way, they’re needed, or useful, or somehow positively contributing to something and/or someone(s). By way of example, when someone is laid off / fired / terminated / “made redundant” – tends to generally be a fairly to moderately significant stressor in life. Sure, there are the factors of income and related issues, change in pattern(s)/regularity/routine, etc., but perhaps at least one of the relevant negative important contributing stress factors is the implied “you’re no longer needed or wanted”. “Of course” such applies much more generally than mere context of employment or “work”, per se, but much more generally in doing something useful or of value, being appreciated for such, etc. Rather seems human nature, but folks seem to generally quite desire that. Or maybe it’s quite, or more so, culture? Well, that seems to factor in too, but perhaps likely at least a fair chunk of it is an evolved-in “societal” “need” of being useful, and thus a quite fundamental “need”/desire.

“Need” for touch/contact, being understood, being/feeling useful, etc. So, part of being human. So, … wouldn’t life generally be a fair bit simpler – and quite possibly even better, if those “needs” didn’t exist? Do, or might, they sometimes, or even commonly/often, get in the way of or detract from otherwise doing (whatever) better and/or more important? Or do those “needs” make us better somehow? Or perhaps (most likely?) some of both. Regardless, is what it is, and part of being human.


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