Human Systems, Never Universal

We systematize everything. Social groups, computers, businesses, governments, relationships, mental disorders: we make a system for everything because it is in our nature. That’s part of what makes us human, especially how we can have several systems in place for adaptation to our surroundings. You know, we learned to farm and fertilize and all that to adapt to different soil and weather conditions. If the farming system fails, we have a hunting system, and if that fails, a gathering system. We can even scavenge, because we have cooking systems.

Every system has a focus. That’s the nature of systems; they cannot be universal. They can come close, but outside of the main focus, a system becomes clunky and inefficient. Police are a system of law enforcement. That’s where they excel. But part of the system includes some non-law-enforcing concepts. For instance, police are trained in CPR, fire management, and weapon care. This gives police a main focus and some lesser knowledge about concepts so they can assist in natural disasters and fights.

But you wouldn’t call the police to put out a house fire. You call the fire department. You don’t call the police to perform appendectomies. You call a doctor.

Similarly, doctors and firefighters have training outside their primary focus. Firefighters have some crowd control knowledge and doctors know a thing or two about bullet wounds.

In computers, we have several programming languages that have their pros and cons. Java is great for simple calculations, but is limited in its ability to function as a graphical engine. It can generate graphics, but that hogs resources, much like how several hundred police with fire extinguishers can put out a fire, but it won’t be pretty. Flash is a good programming language for animation and simple games, but you get too many Bloons on screen and your computer will crash. See: Firefighters trying to stop rioters.

So too, are the clunky ways of relationships. To add complications, we have few terms in the English language to describe relationships. What one person calls a friend, another calls an acquaintance. One person’s lover is another person’s friend with benefits. A spouse doesn’t even mean exclusive sexual practice, because a person can have a husband and consider them a close friend and good roommate but bad lover.

Friends, as they are commonly called, are good for a lot of things: helping you move, allowing you to vent, watching movies together–you know what I mean. Lovers are there to satisfy your sexual needs. Acquaintances are good for awkward moments at social events. Co-workers… they don’t even have a definition outside of, “person you work with.”

The system of monogamy most people insist on today is a good system for a few things. People in stable relationships tend to live longer and healthier lives. They’re happier on average and seem to get more done. But monogamy’s focus breaks down beyond property rights and progeny inheritance. All of the things that you get in monogamy are available in polygamy and, in some cases, moreso.

See, exclusive sexual behavior limits diverse experience. Arbitrary limits are drawn on activities beyond standard reproductive intercourse. Mutual masturbation, sensual massage, oral sex, anal sex, and so on, they become restricted despite having no bearing on the original focus of monogamy. Physical interaction is a major bonding experience and when so much of these bonding activities are removed, we lack vital aspects of social experience that contribute to our psychological health.

Monogamy is not efficient for fulfilling our physical relationship needs. The amount of work necessary for two people to perfectly fulfill one another requires an exorbitant amount of devotion that many people are unable or unwilling to maintain. Hobbies get their share of a person’s time cut out and replaced by a new hobby: satisfying her or his partner.

This is not to say that people cannot satisfy one another, only that monogamy is not an efficient way to do so. Just as we would not call a doctor to put out a fire, though a doctor probably could do so, we wouldn’t call on our spouse to perform a task they were not fully capable of. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, yet monogamy insists that we settle for less in our desires (and sometimes needs) because it is somehow wrong to seek that fulfillment from another person.

And bred into our minds is this thought that coupling is the only answer for our troubles. If you are single, people ask if you’re seeing anyone. If you are dating, people ask if you’re getting married. If you are married, people ask if you’re having kids. Clearly, relationships are a natural curiosity to most people, but is that because, A) it’s impressive to our natural instincts to see two out of seven billion people commit to one another or because, B) we have a natural instinct to seek out more than one relationship and have to find the fulfillment in stories of other relationships?

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One Response to Human Systems, Never Universal

  1. Talaskina says:

    Very thoughtful post. I had never considered this line of thought but find it very accurate to how I perceive monogamous and poly-amorous relationships.

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