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  • Writer's pictureRebekah Few

Why Apes don't Accept Money for Bananas;Inspired by Yuval Noah Harari

Updated: May 29, 2019

Mental Health Training, Psychology, Yuval Noah Harari

When we consciously acknowledge and accept who we are and our desires, we might find we are more open, honest and true to ourselves. However, it's hard to answer WHO ARE YOU?

We’ve talked about self-awareness previously, here is the Johari Window as a reminder;

mental health training, psychology, Yuval Noah Harari
Johari Window

In contrast, intersubjective reality is a term that allows us to explore things that are a reality only because they are intersubjective; 'Existing between conscious minds; shared by more than one conscious mind' (1). So not just our own belief or desires.

A good way to think of this is to take an example of anything that has value purely due to the collective belief system surrounding it, such as; money. Equally, this principle could be used to explain many of the societal norms:

- bullshit hierarchies in institutions

- the need for academic qualifications over personal characteristics

- time

- the age at which we 'grow up'

- traditional family setup

- eating three meals a day

- marriage

- wearing bra's

- wearing pants

- wearing clothes full stop

- schooling

- the latest fashion

- working the hours of 9-5

- working 5 days a week

- not drinking at work - IKR

As discussed in a previous blog we know humans are a sucker for routine. It only stands to reason therefore that we have used our ability to 'co-operate flexibly and in large numbers' (2) to strengthen routine, habit, traditions, regimes even dictatorships and so on...

This conforming is known as the 'descriptive norm effect' (3) its why we call the police if we witness a crime (please don't contact me if you've witnessed a crime and haven't), but it's also why we do things that perhaps aren't true to ourselves, it's why there have been so many societal fuck-ups in history.

One of the aims of NotLostbutFree is to always encourage participants to find out who they really are. Not to get too nihilistic on your ass, but you create your own purpose in this world so make it a good one. Harking back to Johari and his window; explore your unknown self by surrounding yourself with others, show your hidden self so your true and little by little your blind self will reduce.

It is easy to get lost in the rat race (in case you didn't know this term compares humans to rats attempting to earn their cheesy reward, to no avail) so sit down and ask yourself;

I am a human being that..

Loves -

Wants to -

Has the goal of -

Used to be afraid of -

Is driven by -

Is inspired by -

Who notices -

Has a habit of -

Is happiest when -

Gets disappointed by -

Wishes I could -

Believes in -

Will one day -

Key questions from this that highlight our level of self-awareness might be reflecting on 'what we used to be afraid of' and when did this change? how did it change?

Questions that may be harder are asking what we 'have a habit of' and what we are 'disappointed by' - these are often examples of things that others may notice before us and hide in our 'known to others, not known to self' window.

For example when you have instant resting bitch face, signalling your disappointment, as your boyfriends new ridiculously attractive, naturally slim housemate enters the room. Obviously, some of us wouldn't be phased by this at all as we live on a higher philosophical moral plane and also don't have a boyfriend.

Either way, these questions allow us to open up our true self and issue a reminder of what we are aiming for. They allow us to reconsider any 'norms' we may have fallen prey to without conscious choice.

Imagine asking an ape to swap a banana for money, its swift response would be 'fuck off, what do you think I am, human?'. So remember, and to quote a good friend (Bam Bam read her blog here), 'if your going to jump on the bullshit society roller coaster and buy the latest designer sofa, at least choose to'.

TTFN, Becky.


1 Harari, Y. N. (2016). Homo deus: a brief history of tomorrow.

2 The Oxford Dictionary

3 Pryor, Campbell & Perfors, Amy & D. L. Howe, Piers. (2019). Even arbitrary norms influence moral decision-making. Nature Human Behaviour. 3. 10.1038/s41562-018-0489-y.

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