I've been reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Professor Yuval Noah Harari. Jeez it's good.
The renowned historian's groundbreaking narrative of humanity's creation and evolution. It makes you both proud and scared of our species. Homo sapiens kick arse. Maybe too much arse. Especially if you're another species.
Looking back over our 200,000 years, one thing becomes clear. We should revert back to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle immediately. I'm not talking a paleo diet. I'm talking grabbing your family and friends, stripping them naked and heading into the bush with a spear. Even if it's just for the summer holidays.
I always assumed humans moved in a positive direction from generation to generation. Fighting for a better future for our children and their children. With the small exception of the Dark Ages we climbed on the shoulders of our ancestors making things better and better.
That's why we enjoy so many luxuries today. Houses, electricity, air conditioning, soft beds, smartphones, Netflix and the ability to revert back to paleo diets.
But Harari floats the idea that pre-agricultural revolution homo sapiens were pretty happy.
Until 10,000 years ago we were wandering around hunting and gathering. Completely in touch with our surroundings. A varied lifestyle spanning large areas of land. Fresh air, great views.
We were highly skilled and strong individuals operating in small close knit groups. Working friendly hours fulfilled by our clear purpose — survival. Plus we were on the super healthy paleo for real.
Best of all hunters and gatherers didn't get bombarded with 'amazing' shots of their friends' holidays on social media.
December, January is peak 'look at my amazing holiday' time. People looking great in beautiful places.
But it's important to remember that these perfect couples and families spend most of their time annoyed at each other. Like all of us. They were having a terrible time seconds before and after the perfect soc med post.
It may appear they can afford a flasher, funner, happier holiday than you. But they'll have argued on the way to the airport, on the plane, while unpacking at the hotel and over dinner.
All they have done is stop the arguments long enough to get a great snap before storming off and drinking alone at the bar.
I saw the cutest couple taking selfies in front of the Christmas tree at my hotel the other day. So happy. So perfect. Took them ages to get the angle just right. They both needed to look good and also get the giant tree in the back.
As luck would have it they were staying in the room next to me. I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of them screaming at each other.
I recorded the argument on my phone. The man was yelling "I am sooooo sorry I'm not peeeerrfect". She countered with "I hate you soooo much right now". They argued for hours. In the end he slept on the floor.
Meanwhile their Insta friends are at home thinking the trip to Memphis was 'amazing'.
This would never happen to the hunter and gatherer. They would be too busy looking out for lions. Proving their worth by saving their friends and families from predators, not by setting up photo ops. Back then social media was picking nits out of each other's hair while staring up at the stars making up religions.
Obviously there were problems. Every now and then someone would get eaten alive. You were completely screwed if you broke your leg. Also other groups of sapiens were always trying to steal your ladies.
But overall our nomadic homo sapien forefathers were happier and more fulfilled than we are today.
Chamath Palihapitiya, ex vice-president for user growth at Facebook said this week "The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth." It's grim.
There is so much unnecessary jealousy and stress in our lives. It's a waste of our time and a killer of happiness. You don't need that during your summer break. Take some time away from the phone. Relax. Enjoy the people you're actually with.
Having said that my Instagram handle is @mattheathnz. You've gotta follow my holidays. They're going to look super great. Better than yours. I'll be in a loincloth holding a spear running around the Coromandel with my perfect family. That's @mattheathnz on Instagram. Follow me. Please. I need it.
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission.