The office this afternoon exploded with noise that I have rarely heard there. One moment, the quiet silent hum of work that threatens to hypnotize everyone into deathlike comas; the next, it’s the first Saturday of May and there is a wave of excitement cresting across the room that forms a wall of loud cheering and shouting. A wall that pretty much knocked everyone out of their seats in wondering what the heck was going on.
What happened was Usain Bolt won the 200 meter race, making him not only a gold medalist champion but one of the most prominent in history. He has so many gold medals now he can leave them for tips at the pub or use them as throwing weapons as his superpower. Much like a well placed wall of mortar fire, he can lob those gold medals forever because of his endless supply. (Note: I believe his natural nemesis in this regard is Michael Phelps)
Do you know how to run? I mean, REALLY know how to run. Not surprisingly, not a whole lot of people do (I run with arms in the air like a wacky inflatable arm flailing tube clown). However, here is a man who knows quite a lot on the subject but even more so, he seems to know why we CAN run.
Date Filmed: July 2010
Length: 15 minutes, 52 seconds
Total Views so far: 915,553
One Sentence Summary: “Humans run united.”
I searched TED for anything based on the Olympics. That’s really specific, so I wasn’t too surprised when I turned up nothing on the subject specifically.
However, McDougall’s Talk catches my eye and this quickly turns out into one of my favorite talks. McDougall tells some great real life stories and casually mentions some revelations that surprised me while remaining quite genuine in nature.
It’s quite interesting to think that as a species, we could have been a group that ran together. That we would run as a pack across the land to go from destination to destination, only stopping to frolic amongst the flowers or dance or something.
Actually, this history of running sounds like the planet in episode ‘Justice’ from the Star Trek the Next Generation. (The entire thing secretly horrifying so I will not post any links)
Just to quickly summarize, they ask the planet’s natives how do they travel. They reply, “We run! Let’s all run! Oh no, what if these strangers don’t know how to run?”
I’d probably say something like, “Yes. You’re right, but I know how to fire my phaser at a bunch of crazies” and then create some kind of phaser genocide against this planet of running maniacs. Prime Directive my ass.
However, running IS enjoyable. Robin Williams made some jokes about the ‘runners high’, and McDougall mentions how the society itself would be pulled together through running.
This makes a great deal of sense and could also be a hardwired social construct. It is a very natural phenomenon to want to create packs, or identify with groups in society, even if that pack is the ‘pack that does not join packs’ subtype. This most likely is something that is hardwired into the human brain.
So when translated with McDougall’s description of this running society its quite identifiable and I like how he takes the time to clearly note that all members of society are included. Whether a person is young, old or imbetween, they are part of the hunting group.
What caught me off guard
And much to my surprise, McDougall also mentions Usain Bolt! And then he immediately mentions some kind of magical squirrel that is capable of outrunning the human race. The Speedy Gonzalez of the squirrel world who mocks us all with his ‘InYoFace’ attitude and then takes all of our nuts.
There was one ‘wowzers’ moment to me. At the 11:15 mark, McDougall mentions that the pack cannot be materialistic, that in order to run and cooperate uniformly they need to be rather selfless.
This made a quick mental loop of arguments of whether or not greed or generosity is based upon the level of availability of items versus need. I imagined a group sharing a pen to sign a birthday card. Then we take another group and give the group a bunch of pens, but one pen is made of gold. (you can guess what would probably happen next)
Do you know what the world’s hardest videogame is?
Some have argued that this horrible piece of crap, aka the running simulator, aka QWOP.
(Ok, so it’s not THAT bad… But it’s sure to make some great Olympic replays! Seriously, the entire gameplay video looked like a slow motion replay)
and if anyone is brave enough to actually to try to ‘run’. You can play the game online here.
So now that its been discussed, what can we do?
McDougall is the author of “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super Athletes, and the Greatest Race the World has Never seen.” It might be worth a jog to go read it.
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