Human nature & animal nature: domination

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by strantor, Apr 24, 2015.

  1. strantor

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    Lately I have been observing a sharp increase in my oldest daughter's tendency to try and dominate her younger sister. She will withold toys or candies or whatever the younger one wants, not because she wants the thing, but just to solidify her perceived rank in whatever pecking order she thinks exists around here.

    I have tried to call her out on it (deliberately taking something she didn't really want, just send a point) but she denies it and complains "But it's my toy and I haven't had a chance to play with it at all today." Or "But it's just it's the last tootsie roll and I only got to have 2 and she got like 10." It's hard to rebut her rebuttal because I think she actually believes it. I don't think she consciously withholds from the younger one or picks on the younger one with the idea "yeah, now you know whose the alpha female around here, so fall in line peon!" I think it's just something we subconsciously do as humans, and so do animals.

    I sat down with her last night and we watched this video about the complicated hierarchy and dominant/alpha behavior of Java monkeys. I paused several times to discuss, translate everything into terms of "more awesome monkey," "less awesome monkey," "loser monkey," "boss monkey," etc. and assess her understanding of animal nature and alpha behavior. We had a real good chat following the blurb starting @ 9:15. Afterwards I reiterated what the video said in the beginning about how we are so closely related to monkeys and how we share much of the same instincts and nature as monkeys. But then I expounded about how what sets people apart from the animal kingdom is self control. We have the ability and the duty as citizens of the world to consciously suppress some of our undesirable natural behavioral traits. Like eating the faces off of people that upset us for example. People who senselessly murder other people, are not people; they are animals.

    I told her that one day when she grows up and enters the world she will have no choice but play along in the dominance game, and she will have to prove herself. She will have to work for, fight for, and defend her position in life. But for now, as a kid living at home with her parents, she does not, and should not try to. I told her "Your sister does not have a boss's boss's boss's boss. She only has a boss, and her boss is your boss too, and that's me. Your sister is not the loser monkey. You are not the more awesome monkey. You are not a monkey at all, you are a person, and as a person, you need to be aware of your behavior and take control of it." Afterwards, she did admit to have been acting like the monkeys in the video lately. She said she understood and would stop; we will see. She did really good today, but it's only been one day.

    After our little chat though, I have been thinking a lot about this dominance topic. I see it much more clearly now, in everything, where for my whole life until now it has been just a universally understood part of life and not something I paid any conscious attention to. Dominance plays into just about everything we do, all day, every day. On the way into work today you probably got cut off, and it probably pissed you off, because someone just dominated you. Someone just forced you into submission, made you their bitch. You probably don't think that consciously. You, like me, may have on occasion pondered why it's so infuriating. You probably calked it up to "they're so inconsiderate" or "they just put me danger." But that isn't it. You don't want to admit it, but the real reason you got so hot under the collar is because you were just exposed as a big weak bitch in front of the whole highway audience. That's the whole reason behind road rage; some people just can't take it. That guy who cut you off probably showed up to work feeling like a million bucks and talked down to one coworker and made sexual passes at another, feeding off the conquest of his AM commute. When you got to work, you probably met the work day already in a crabby mood and called your boss "sir," further solidifying yourself as a member of the loser monkey club. Then you picked the fleas out of your boss's boss's neck fur. Or, maybe you're the guy who cut the loser monkey off and then had rough sex with your loser monkey secretary when she came in to bring you your starbucks.

    In either case it doesn't really matter; the point is, unless you do it in the middle of the night, you can't even gas up your car without being dominated or dominating someone else. "No, I got here first" - it doesn't even need to be said out loud; body language says it all. Or, "Oh, you look like you're in a hurry, go ahead I can wait." - same deal.

    But is it really an entirely bad aspect of human/animal nature? That's the part I can't decide. On the one hand it does seem pretty barbaric on the surface, but on the other hand I could argue that without dominance and competition (or are they the same thing?), we would have never left the caves. I could argue that it is our perpetual quest to always be better than everyone else that has brought us from sharp rocks and hot rocks to blenders and microwaves. I could argue that our self-imposed pecking order is what enabled the strongest and the smartest of us to mate with the strongest and smartest of us, resulting in a species that is unsurpassed in its achievements.

    But when I apply that logic back to the monkeys, the wheels fall off. They've been biting each other's tails off for eons and they're still just biting each other's tails off. Does their complicated genealogical caste system really serve them to the degree of effort they put into it? Does the group really benefit as a whole by having one super awesome money who gets to bitch-slap whoever he wants, and a few lesser awesome monkeys beneath him who can sit on whatever log they want, regardless of who was sitting there previously? Does the majority of the loser monkeys benefit from having to fetch food for the more awesome monkeys? I don't see where a group of class-equal monkeys would have any lesser chance of success in the wild. But, they are just monkeys. I do not expect their behavior to make sense.

    But I do expect us humans' behavior to make sense. Do you think our behavior makes sense?
     
  2. nsaspook

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    To a lizard, yes. The Reptile part of your brain always knows what's happening first. The other parts will sometimes make it stop but not usually.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. GopherT

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    @strantor
    I have two kids close in age, my brother has two kids close in age. We each tried different tactics. I tried to reason. My brother simply took things away without explanation. My brother's kids caught on faster and changed behavior. Arguing and explaining just causes confusion because I think they are doing things for one reason, they claim another (convince themselves it was for another reason) and suddenly life us unfair.
     
  4. MaxHeadRoom

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    As far as evolution is concerned it is the fundamental fact of animal tribalism.
    The identical behavior on a smaller scale is seen in our closest relatives the apes, of which we share over 95% of our DNA.
    Tribalism can be attributed and account for death of the estimated 200 to 300 million humans at the hand of other humans in the 20th century alone, a mere 100 year span of war and genocide.
    Max.
     
  5. nsaspook

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  6. Kermit2

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    a group of monkeys are all in a tree gathering food. The boss monkeys are high up in the tree near the top. zas they look down all they see is a group of lesser monkeys hard at work. The monkeys lower down look up and just see a few assholes doing nothing.

    This is the animal kingdom version of corporate work structure
    :)
     
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  7. wayneh

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    My Mom called that "dog turd syndrome". (Although she didn't use the "t" word.)

    A toy - which could just be a dog turd - lays on the floor all day, unloved. Then one sibling picks it up. War ensues. "That's MY toy, I was playing with it, it's my turn, etc., etc."

    The dispute has nothing whatsoever to do with the toy itself, it's all about turf.

    With my kids, we'd just say "dog turd" every time we saw the behavior, and I think this had an effect. I honestly don't think the kids always knew what they were doing - they thought it WAS about the toy. But when they'd hear "dog turd", they'd often give up that particular battle and move on the the next.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2015
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  8. strantor

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    My approach has been mostly like that of your brother. My oldest is 8, and up until now (and still, with the younger ones) I didn't/don't do much of any explaining or reasoning. You cannot reason with someone who has undeveloped capacity for reasoning. I took/take a hard line and they know that "don't" means "don't ever" (though they quickly forget), "do this" means "do this now", and "stop" means "stop now" (though sometimes they test the water for a bit more time) - and they know the answer to "why" ("because I said so"). But it seems to me that as they get older and more capable of grasping the "why" that maybe I should start explaining it to them. Maybe if, when I tell my daughter not to emulate the twerking she saw on TV because it triggers primal sexual urges in men that might violate her, she would have a better reason than just "because my dad is a stiff, uptight asshole and he'll get upset if I do it."

    The monkey video session from the other night is sort of trial run to see if she's ready to handle the truth. If this tactic doesn't pan out, I already know the tried and true method, and she is conditioned for it.
     
  9. strantor

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    LOL I like that. My "dog turd" is "Are you the most awesome monkey?" I warned her that I would start saying that every time I see her pulling rank. So far I haven't had to say it once. Before the video I would have had a dozen opportunities per day. I'm betting that the "new" will wear off this little self discovery exercise in just a few days and we will be back to tribal warfare. We will see.
     
  10. wayneh

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    She may surprise you. Kids really are unaware of their own behavior until it is pointed out to them. Once learned, they don't forget.
     
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  11. tcmtech

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    If you want to see entertainment in its most ridiculous form come to my house and watch my 6 year old daughter and 39 year old wife fight out their turf wars. :p

    Both are spoiled and both consider logical rational action a last resort. Sad part is the 6 year old is starting to out reason my wife now on whats logical and whats just the old hen pecking for the sake of pecking.

    Oh yea I'm asshole too when ever I step in and point out how stupid each of them is being.

    (That's my favorite part!) :D
     
  12. cmartinez

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    • Plan A: Have a heated argument with both parties speaking at the same time and yelling incongruous things at each other until one of them either cries or becomes exhausted
    • Plan B: Use logic and reason to solve the problem.
    Gosh... if only people tried swapping the order of those two plans, life would be a lot simpler....
     
  13. wayneh

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    I had two girls. The mother-daughter relationship is certainly "special". My wife would complain that I "made" her be the heavy, while she'd go to the mat with them over something I thought was trivial. I saw it for what it was - a turf war that had little to do with the topic.

    Stay away, just like you would a dog fight. Logic and reason have no place.
     
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  14. #12

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    Finally, something in this thread I can relate to!
     
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  15. tcmtech

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    My wife and daughter get into it all the time for the stupidest and most petty of reasons. Last night when they got home my daughters laptop had dropped its wifi connection and needed it reset to get it going of which she can do herself in a bout 30 seconds.

    Unfortunately last night as far as she was concerned someone else should do it for her since she didn't feel like doing it herself for whatever illogical and idiotic reason she had. 15 minutes of outright crying and fussing only to end with me stepping in and shutting the damn thing off and leaving it that way.

    Most days when I see either of them react like this to such petty nonsense, and it happens a lot, I can't help but wonder if they both are a bit autistic being I can't connect that level of over the top reactions to anything a normal functioning person would do or act out over.
     
  16. gerty

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    We have 2 boys, about 16 months apart. When they were young they were always at each other, no reason necessary. When they were about 10-11 my wife signed them up for Karate lessons. I said "great, now we'll have broken bones". After about 6 months of lessons they never fought (each other) again. There was a few episodes of getting picked on by older/bigger kids, the normal kid stuff, and they took care of themselves. That was about 30 years ago, still no problems..
     
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  17. tcmtech

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    That reminds me, While I was in town today with my daughter we stopped by one of the main public parks and playgrounds for a while to waste some time on a nice day.

    Some boys were playing around on the teeter totter with my daughter. One was around my daughter's age and they were playing just fine when that boys younger brother came over and wanted a go at it. He was to small to balance out my daughter and got stuck sitting all the way up.
    The older boy lifted my daughters end up so his brother could get off but instead of just getting off he decided to flop down right under the teeter totter so that when his brother came back over and got on every time he came down it bumped him where he then then made every bump into an over dramatic whining fit like he was getting killed by every kid on the play ground.

    Good lord it was just like watching my brother in action when we were kids. If someone else, usually me, was having fun he had to butt in and do it too but if he couldn't hack it for any reason instead of just getting out of the way and going off and doing his own thing some place else he too would do his damnedest to find a way to be in everyones way and act like it was killing him until the fun was ruined for everyone. :mad:

    The thing was the whole time this brat was throwing his fit every kid around him just looked at him like he was an idiot which was pretty much what kids did to my brother back then as well.
    At least this brats older brother was civilized enough to just ignore him. I know when I was that age and my brother did that crap I had no problem dragging his butt out of the way then kicking the living crap out of him until he did have something to cry about. :eek:

    Fortunately after about the 5th or 6th bump his mom showed up and drug his butt out from under the teeter totter and gave him a chewing out in front of everyone about acting like a little stupid little fool in public. :cool:
     
  18. wayneh

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    Kids will do odd things, some more than others but they all find something. The tragedy occurs when the parents, siblings or even friends fail to "correct" the faulty behavior as early as possible. If kids aren't fairly well straightened out BEFORE they hit puberty, there's little hope of intervening later.
     
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  19. cmartinez

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    You're wise... I sure hope you're not speaking from personal experience
     
  20. tcmtech

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    Yea I still remember my teens a bit too well. :oops:

    Psychological torture of my little brother was about my only high point in life back then. :p

    Still makes me laugh looking back at some of the stupid stuff I could get him to do once the proper conditioning had been done. :D

    He used to love calling me a retard and worse whenever he got upset about most anything. I built on that with taunting him with verbal and physical gestures until he finally reached the point where a few simple verbal taunts or physical nudges would get him riled up to where a simple hand gesture, hand curled in and lightly tapping my chest like mentally disable person, would put him over the edge like brain damaged rabid monkey. :confused:

    If I was having a bad day I would set him off in public being his typical response was to take the hand gestures and body motions over the top plus toss a bunch of screaming 'you're a retard' at me in the most handicapped way he could while spazzing out like one having a severe fit. :eek:

    By his early teens I had him so well programed that my parents really thought he had some sort of neurological disorder being I could get him to go if in full public view with just the slightest of taunting. So slight that if no one was watching me I would look completely unaware of his presence let alone ever appear to be the trigger source. :D
     
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