Work by Maartje
The problems of living longer
There was a time when humans had such short lives, that they had very little time to concern themselves with anything but where their next meal was coming from. So it is easy to understand why their caves were so drab. Their attention span? Anyone’s guess.
Through the millennia, people have done very well. Humans got organized and they are a lot better at it than animals. There are all sorts of evolutionary explanations for our success. We can run for longer, because we have no fur. Animals might be able to sprint faster, but they cannot do it for long as they overheat. People also discovered how to harness fire, and using it to cook helped more rapid digestion. Leaving time for pondering. Focusing and expanding attention.
Pondering was used for recreation by some, others invented and created things, and we all know that there were individuals who used it for evil. History books generally only tell us what went wrong in the past. You have to look in other places to see the good things that happened through the ages. Greek pottery and Roman mosaics, to pick out just two, are steeped in ancient care and kindness. Things that could have just been made to do a job and yet the makers felt drawn to decorate and adorn them.
It is not as though we are civilized now and previous generations were not. Every society from the very first pondered moment had lots of people who cared about making day-to-day life more pleasant through the time they took in creating applied arts. Even though they did not live nearly half as long as most of us do now. You would think that we would take more care in choosing the things that populate our environments, things that are right for us and made to last a (contemporary) lifetime. Might be smart as we are living longer. Do we need to put more thought into what we need and who we should ask to make them?
So is the real problem that the longer we live, the shorter our attention span becomes?