Much has been written and spoken about the nature of humans, but not much thought has been given to what the term truly implies. We ponder whether or not people are cooperative or competitive, whether they are good or evil and why they insist on eating themselves to death. There is no end to the speculation over which course we would take if we were uncorrupted and unspoiled by society.

Whether by gender binaries, racial stereotypes or cultural norms, our character is cultivated to make us behave in unpredictable and even obscene ways. But the topic we will discuss here is not about how humans behave in a society but, rather, the quintessence of the human creature. We do not study the nature of felines by watching domesticated cats, so why would we study domesticated humans? We want to know about human instinct, behavior and inclination, not why Teddy always plays with the green pipe cleaner. What is our natural state, if unimpeded by other humans?

To find the answer we shall turn to Romulus and Remus. No, we’re not talking about Star Trek: Nemesis (R.I.P., Data), we’re talking about feral children. There are many legends from ancient times about children who were raised by wild beasts, and from these cases we cannot draw many conclusions. But in recent decades there have been several documented cases of children who endured prolonged isolation and neglect. If there is a true human nature, a behavior which is unadulterated by pressures and perceptions, this is it.

So how does a feral child behave? Children rescued from extreme conditions show little or no ability to verbally communicate, undeveloped or absent social skills and impaired motor function. Having skipped the critical developmental period for language learning, they have an intensely difficult time learning to either communicate with or relate to other people. They often seem uninterested in interacting with other humans, instead preferring solitude. Learning to use cups, cutlery, or even the toilet is nearly impossible. Some even have trouble learning to stand and walk.

Robert H. Bork said, “Every new generation constitutes a wave of savages who must be civilized by their families, schools, and churches.” He was right. Every human born into this world enters as a feral child and it is only by the conventions of society, whatever they be, that the child is rescued from savagery.

What are we, then? Filthy, detached, silent and inept – this is human nature.

Super Best

Wedding parties are made up of bridesmaids and groomsmen selected by the bride and groom respectively. There are usually three to five on each side, and one of them is recognized as being of special importance. On the bride’s side it is her maid of honor, while the groom has his best man.

Sometimes the bride or groom have difficulty selecting someone for the special position. They do not want to insult the other bridesmaids or groomsmen by elevating one above the others. Sometimes they attempt to resolve the issue by designating more than one member to the top tier, but by doing so they devalue these special ranks and further insult the members who were not chosen. If you are one of four groomsmen and you aren’t chosen as the best man, you may be disappointed, but you take comfort in knowing that the groom was forced to only choose one person, which means you could have been a close second. However, if groom selects two best men and you are not one of them, then it means you were his third choice at best. Imagine what it would be like to be the only member not selected as a best man!

So you don’t want to insult anyone in your wedding party, but you want to have a maid of honor or best man? The solution is simple: elevate all of your bridesmaids to maid of honor or groomsmen to best man. By doing this, you give special recognition to everyone and no one feels left out. Then, if you still want to recognize one person above the others, you can designate that person as mega maid of honor or super best man.

Catastrophe averted.

Patriarchal Metamorphosis

The birth of a child is a magical moment. It plucks primal chords of love, fragility and hope. When parents welcome their first child into the world, something strange takes place. The mother, after enduring the physical and emotional turmoil of carrying and delivering the child, is now compelled to focus all of her energy and care into this tiny amphibious being. The father undergoes a very different transformation which has less to do with emotion and more to do with cognition and physique.

Once an adult male bares a child, his fingers thicken, like bloated sausages, and his hair relaxes its grip on the scalp. Elasticity of the skin around the midsection increases dramatically as his muscles are imbued with hidden dad strength. The subject’s interests and attention also shift focus. The mind dulls as tedious and uninteresting subjects like Nascar and pro baseball can now be studied for hours on end. This mental lethargy renders his jokes completely unamusing, incurring laughter only at the feebleness of his attempt.

Although his thoughts are now slower and fewer in number, the subject’s knowledge of certain areas is immediately expanded. For example, the subject is now endowed with expertise in the area of automobiles. He immediately recalls every car he has ever seen and can now recognize a lemon from a distance of 100 yards.

The subject also becomes intensely concerned with the price of gas, milk and eggs. He will now travel great distances to save mere cents on these products. Although his ability to make impulsive, shortsighted purchases has not diminished, he will now dedicate hours to bartering over a few dollars before agreeing to a price. Among the most hated enemies of the father is the telemarketer. Fathers gain large quantities of self-satisfaction by bringing a telemarketer to tears or forcing them to hang up in frustration. The father is truly a force with which to be reckoned.

Beware the patriarchal metamorphosis.

Appearance Is Everything

When you were a child, your mother probably told you that appearances don’t matter. The reason she told you this is because she wanted you to focus on education and developing your character instead of perfecting your makeup or outfit. Perhaps she just knew that you weren’t going to be able to get by on your looks, but though your mother meant well, she’s a liar.

Appearances do matter, and your mother proved it to you every time she fixed your hair, adjusted your clothes or told you to sit up straight and behave yourself. She knew that if her children were seen to be unkempt or poorly mannered, it would reflect negatively on her.

As an adult, appearance becomes much more important. Whether it’s dressing for a job interview, impressing the opposite sex or fitting into a social group, we are compelled to use our appearance to please those around us. You cannot expect to succeed in life if you do not do this. In many situations appearance is very important, but there’s one situation where it is especially essential: Internet chat.

If you are under the age of forty or you’re unusually hip, then you’ve probably used a chat program such as MSN Messenger, ICQ, Facebook Chat or mIRC. Some of these programs allow you to change your status, or appearance, to busy, away or appear offline. Most Internet chatters abuse these options to avoid unwanted conversations. If we wish to evade one or more persons, we simply set our status to something unwelcoming to deflect awkward or cumbersome chat.

The worst of these appearance options is appear offline, which is the online equivalent of having your phone number blocked from caller ID. By choosing appear offline, we are saying that we want to be able to see who else is online and chat with them but not be seen as online and have people chat with us. This behavior is selfish and collectively destructive. If everybody’s phone number appeared as restricted or every Internet chatter used appear offline; these services would cease to function.

If you remove yourself from caller ID or use appear offline, then you are leeching off the collective’s superior behavior. The only reason that these functions work is because society as a whole is better than you.

Appearance is everything. Appear online.

The Age of Space

While staying up late on a weeknight watching infomercials, you may have heard the term space-age to describe the material comprising the product being pitched. This expression is used to induce a tantalizing, futuristic association with the product, inferring that this product is far ahead of its time. Of course, these claims are not to be taken literally, for we know that these products actually came from the present and not from… wait, when exactly is the Space Age?

When someone uses the term space-age, they may be referring to one of several periods in history. It could be the launch of the Soviet satellite, Sputnik, in 1957, or the first journey of a human into outer space in 1961. Maybe they’re talking about the space race during the 60’s, or the lunar landing in 1969. Whatever the case, they aren’t selling you a forty-pound microwave made from solid American steel, but maybe they should.