Annoying trend watch: modern cavemen


Large cities, by virtue of their populations and opportunities for self-indulgence, typically support large communities of idiots. New York, being an especially large city, seems particularly blessed.

I was dismayed yesterday to read about the rise of so-called "modern cavemen" in NYC. Theses devotees of the "paleo lifestyle" eat large amounts of meat, fast frequently, avoid grain-based foods unavailable to actual paleolithic humans, and exercise by running around in the bushes and hurling stones at one another.

I have no real problem with any of these activities on their own. But when you start organizing these various things into a lifestyle and start proselytizing about it, you incur my unending wrath. I mean, listen to these people:

“I didn’t want to do some faddish diet that my sister would do.”

So why not invent a faddish diet all your own! Brilliant!

Mr. Le Corre, 38, who once made soap for a living, promotes what he calls “mouvement naturel” at exercise retreats in West Virginia and elsewhere. His workouts include scooting around the underbrush on all fours, leaping between boulders, playing catch with stones, and other activities at which he believes early man excelled. These are the “primal, essential skills that I believe everyone should have,” he said in an interview.

Not a day goes by where I don't wish I was better at catching stones. And the ability to "scoot through underbrush" will no doubt prove useful while traversing the dense, triple-canopy jungle foliage that covers much of the Upper West Side and portions of SoHo.

And it gets worse:

Another caveman trick involves donating blood frequently. The idea is that various hardships might have occasionally left ancient humans a pint short. Asked when he last gave blood, Andrew Sanocki said it had been three months. He and his brother looked at each other. “We’re due,” Andrew said.

Dear god, please shut up.

There are two things that bug me about these urban cavemen. First, they totally misapprehend the process of human evolution:

“The problem is that as soon as we get out of our temperature-controlled environments, we’re weak,” Mr. Durant said. “Where’s that wildness that allowed humans to flourish throughout history?”

It was not, in fact, wildness that allowed humankind to thrive. It was our large brains that allowed us to invent things like clothes, tools, buildings and architecture and gain a decisive advantage over other wild things that, as well as being much better at being wild, wanted to eat us. All of these so-called cavemen still live in centrally heated apartments, so I question their commitment to a truly paleolithic lifestyle.

But the far more irritating thing about these people is what they say about our culture. Notably unlike our hunter-gatherer forebearers, modern city dwellers have both a surplus of cash and leisure time. With enough money and spare hours to indulge one's self, its not surprising that all sorts of people come up with all sorts of stupid ways to become even more self-absorbed. Eat meat, or don't. Scoot through the underbrush, or don't. It's no skin off my nose. But don't organize it all into a "lifestyle" and pretend like you've discovered the secret to a more fulfilling and healthy life. These people just like belonging to a big, fun club that makes them feel special. It's a basic human urge, one that I've never felt too comfortable with. This kind of thing gives us Boston Red Sox fans and fascism, so perhaps it's something we should embrace less readily in our personal lives.

Really, the tragic thing about these modern cavemen is that there aren't any modern sabretooth tigers to messily eviscerate them in the streets. Then they'll know all about what it's really like to be "wild", and I won't have to listen to their inane preening.