06 Energy

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Energy has been a selection pressure since the beginning.

About four and a half billion years ago the Earth was formed, hot and hostile, possibly not it it’s current orbit and a lot we don’t know. Half a billion years later the first life formed, and that means the ancestors of all life, you and me, fungus, cats and bananas.

The laws of physics means this life would have needed energy to be alive and so it would have needed a power source. The main sources back then were probably geological heat, chemical and photonics from the sun. Pure oxygen is a great chemical source but most likely it all reacted before life came along during those 500 million years. Just look at Mars. It’s covered in oxygen, but its attached to iron, which is why Mars is red. It’s rusty. So we think geothermal vents might have been where life started. We don’t know.

So these single cell lifeforms were, no doubt, everywhere eventually, evolving into niches as it goes but it hits an energy wall. We can speculate as to what exactly it was but we don’t quite know. Maybe as cells got bigger, more even energy was needed as a base line due to the volume increasing by a cubed amount of the length, but most likely its to do with how bacteria reproduce and eat. Bacteria grow and split and absorb nutrients via diffusion through the cell wall.

Humans know how to manage the environment and farm but bacteria just consume what’s there and replicate by growing and dividing. What this means is that different bacteria are in competition for the limited resources of an area and the most efficient will out produce the other. It takes energy to do anything so for any added complexity you become more energy consuming. If it’s a replication race and then more advanced bacteria is considered energy inefficient and is out produced by the more simple bacteria. In short the evolutionary pressure is on being more simple, which has parallels with social media campaigns, and so complexity was held up for half a billion years.

So how did bacteria evolve into advance life? Well actually it never did, but it’s also true to say that we are part evolved from bacteria. There is more than one type of single cell organism, of which bacteria is one. They do share the same ancestors but vary in build.

So back when the Earths day was about 12 hours long (I haven’t done the maths) and the moon was a lot closer, massive in the sky and still rotating in a way we’d notice. Something remarkable happened. A eukaryote, a single cell organism with it’s DNA in a nucleus somehow got a bacteria inside it, but it didn’t die and neither did the bacteria. They also managed to multiply without killing each other and became symbiotic. This happened once. Just once in all of history for animals. It is the original animal.

The environment for the bacteria became perfect and simple, protected within the cell, in a permanent primordial soup, only needed to out perform it’s basic functions to out perform at living. In other words, all it needed was to eat food and produce energy, giving some to its host, as success is joint and so this became its selection pressure. This bacteria lost most of its other functions because it just didn’t need it and as everything takes energy, its a drag. This bacteria became a power house within our cells and is now called by us, our mitochondrial DNA. It’s in the cell and so comes with the cell. It comes with the egg and is therefore always from our mum.

The Eukaryote is the nucleus, which contains the building instructions for all of us except our mitochondria. These days, or should I say millenniums, the nucleus is constructed in the egg, half from the farther and half from the mother. If your child has a problem with their mitochondria they will have no energy. This is beyond serious and why the best thing is to put the fathers mitochondria in there, except we can’t yet. The best we can do is borrow an egg without the nucleus. Can’t be from mum as that’s the source of the bad mitochondria so another women is needed to help. This is the third parent child, doesn’t affect the construction of the child but does affect every cell. It would be cruel to not do this if you can do this.

So how does this help with a modern social media campaign?
Evolution is logic process and so it applies to everything all the time. Where bacteria has energy pressure, Tik Tok and clones have attention pressure. You see it with how YouTube started with high value content as experts such as engineers tell you how a bridge is constructed. You then see how peoples voices changed to be all OH MY GOD and ARRH ITS GOING TO GET ME and the stuff that plugs into the animal. You see the industry pivot to Tic Tok and really short videos. To go viral here you need to be both informative and highly entertaining. If you don’t like all the shouty stuff, like I don’t, don’t blame the content creators. The platform can be blamed as they control the environment and the rest of the blame is on us as a collective. We selected this. Literally, with buttons and swipes. The platform made its choice on the environment and we chose the content as a meta organism. I’m afraid people, this is us.

So how can we continue this lesson. Well, our multicellular success came as many mytochondria pumped energy into the larger cell. So, if you were to apply this to a social media campaign, you want many Tik Toks feeding a wider campaign, linking some how. Maybe have each one tease something and when you watch them together you get a secret. Let a few of them function as a single cell.

So, to run a good campaign, have each micro element be informative and entertaining, with an additional element that peaces together with a few others. If I get the time, I’ll try this and let you know how it went for me.

Are you hungry? I am.
*Eats crisp*
Ummm yummy.
I shouldn’t be but I am. Our technology has evolved with continual invention to the point where a typical meal is a large part of my daily need. Together, my meals give me more than I need and snacks are so energy loaded that to be honest I just don’t need them. The problem is not so much the food but my hunger.

As explained in episode 1, our bodies drive by evolutionary need in oldest first priority order. Energy was at the beginning and has been a selection pressure. How often do you think about if you have enough oxygen? If you do then I’m sorry to bring this up, but most people don’t feel any preemptive desire for air. Even up a high mountain, people become dangerously stupid rather than instinctively wanting to get more oxygen. No awareness of oxygen density at all. Yet are you hungry?

Your cells in your body demand energy. Your taste could have evolved to taste fibre. You might have had that sense of taste, potassium. But you don’t. What you have is a sense of sweet. When you think of a banana you think of energy. Remember, everything takes energy, including storing and processing it, so why don’t we only desire it when we need it. Well getting it from the environment has always been hard. Accounting for the trouble of sourcing it, the net energy optimum is to just store anything left over because there might not be enough tomorrow, and the ones who didn’t store it will die off. In fact your whole body has evolutionary drivers to get and store energy.

A key thing to remember about evolution is that every first change is an accident but everything kept is no accident, it’s selection. There is a reason why there is a delay between eating enough and feeling full. There is a reason why you want to taste sweet with your meals, which may mean you always have a pudding. There is a reason why your feet don’t get bigger and your legs longer when you walk more but your stomach grows when you fill it. There is a reason why you get hangry, to shift your sense of justice in your demand for more food at the social table. There is a reason why I’m hungry.

I’m hungry despite I’m lucky that I have too much food. I’m hungry because my body demands more food when I don’t need it. I am hungry, because my animal demands food even though my machine knows I don’t need it. This is me and you are different but this is me. I want to be leaner but its hard because my body rolls back down the evolutionary stages. It makes my brain feel starved until it wants to revert to a hungry animal. It wants me to feel impending doom of energy death even though I’ve got plenty of fat reserves on my paunchy tummy.

It takes a lot of mental effort to overrule the animal because the animal is stronger. Your best strategies are to use the animal to defend you. Exercise is good because the animal wouldn’t want to interrupt that tree climbing for a banana with a bout of stroppy flapping (and yes I’m describing myself). I recommend a run before lunch to extend the time of not eating. Sleep is good. It’s poorly understood but we know it keeps hormones more sane. Not buying the food you scoff so your hunting trip to the fridge leaves your animal knowing it did all it could but was unsuccessful, as opposed to your mind fighting with it about eating that super energy thing. The deeper the you can get with the animal the better, so procreation as a strategy to delay eating might be an option for you.

You also have other appetites needs and as long as these are open, the channel for energy is open. Protein is a current major issue. You need a certain level of protein, which for most people comes from an animal with fat. Fat is less desired however and so the economically less valuable, which means it becomes cheaper. What this means is that food engineers do is want to produce a fat stick that tastes like a protein stick, which is of course what they do. It tastes yummy (sorry veggies and vegans) and as you eat it your brain is told its fulfilling it’s protein need but when it stock checks afterwards it still needs more protein. So you eat another one 10 minutes later, and what does your body think about the fat with it? It thinks its great.

So you need to fight the desire to eat, your best strategy is reduce the pull to food and help the push away from food. Don’t buy high energy food that you want to scoff. Read the backs of packets and you might learn things you were not expecting, like orange juice is just a sugar based energy drink. I don’t buy interesting cheese that I do enjoy. It’s not a real problem. Buy better food if you can. Healthy bars are not necessarily so healthy. Most are high sugar.

I think it can be said that most people chronically undervalue nutritionists and don’t appreciate that cheap food has cheep contents. It’s harder for the poor. Everything is. And if you want to be a better human being, don’t fat shame. Just don’t. Don’t complement people on loosing weight unless they ask for it. Don’t tell them they’ve put weight on. It’s so loaded just avoid it.

So that is what evolution tells us about how to run a social media campaign and if you are like me, how to help yourself be the thinner you you want to be.