Evolution is Too Damn Slow

As I approach Thanksgiving and my much awaited post on "Why I Would Have an Eating Disorder if I Were a Girl," let's approach the subject by talking about evolution - of course.

I am reading a fascinating book (thanks, Meredith) on the role of evolution in our social behavior, The Moral Animal, by Robert Wright. For those of you struggling with the sexual roles and stereotypes of men and women, this is a great book. Wait, that's all of you ...

But instead of delving in just yet, I want to touch on the uneasiness I tend to feel about being content with my life. Often I feel like I am not accomplishing what I should be. I am not who I was meant to be. Intead of the grandiose dreams implanted in me from years of television, I am going to blame evolution, at least partly. Maybe evolution didn't design me right.

For example, our common "sweet tooth" is a remnant of times long past where fruits were hard to come by, yet nutritionally important. A sweet tooth was a positive incentive, now it is hazardous to our health. Our desire to eat rich, fatty foods similarly comes from a time when such foods were scarce, so the incentive led to better habits. Now it leads to heart disease, stroke, and obesity. Our natural instincts lead us to struggle against our current reality, and guess what, most people fail and many become miserable because of it.

And frankly I know that for the past million years my genes weren't being groomed and evolved to sit in a chair all day looking at this computer screen. Now my back and neck hurts, I have early signs of carpal tunnel, and I'll bet I won't be able to see well when I am 40, without glasses that is.

If it takes 5000 generations to turn a wolf into a chihuaha or under different pressures a Saint Bernard, how long is it going to take my genes to adjust to the new world? You can't kill all the undesirables like you could with dogs.

Maybe my fundamental unrest is because I am not designed for the 21st century, or the 21st century just ain't designed for me. Damn, that evolution. It's just too damn slow.