ON THE COVER: RUBY WAX
Is your brain having trouble keeping pace with modern life? Then stop treating it like a machine, says writer and comedian Ruby Wax
on what to do when your brain is struggling to keep up with the pace of modern life.
Iwas taught in school that as we evolve as a species we improve the whole time, each generation developing more advanced features. I’ve found out this is a common misconception. Evolution doesn’t mean the species gets better, as in happier; it just means we become better adapted to the environment, sometimes at great cost. What works for us as far as survival is concerned might also work against us. One example is walking on all twos – great for hiking, but the downside is we get backache. Had we remained in a crawl position chiropractors would be out of business. Another example is that women now have great difficulty giving birth. (Oh, really? I hadn’t noticed…) On all fours it was easier to deliver a baby but standing up (because our pelvis is too narrow) means pushing out a baby is more painful than passing a beach ball.
HOW WE LIVE TODAY
People now may be living longer than they did before, but it’s not clear that people are living better. In the past, we lived for time off. Now, we live to get things done faster and more efficiently. A few decades ago, we’d meander over to an answering or fax machine and respond to the messages in our own time, or not at all if we didn’t feel like it. Now, if you don’t reply to an email within four seconds of it arriving, people think you’ve dropped them and will delete you from their contacts. This yanks our primitive fear- chain of being dumped and made tribeless.
With money, you could spend only what you had in the bank; now, credit cards have flung the spending floodgates open wide. We used to shop until the stores shut, but these days they never close and, if they do, you can go online. You don’t
RUBY WAX photographed by JAY BROOKS. JACKET and TROUSERS, WTR. BLOUSE,
Ted Baker. RING, James Ganh