We all know that what we say and how we say it is of utmost importance. It can create love, connection, belonging, or hate, war and destruction. Different words, different meanings. 90% of what we say is nonverbal according to a college communications professor. I never understood that concept, how can we communicate so well over the phone. Perhaps it’s because we can hear the tone of voice and the shrug of a shoulder and the remarkable emptiness of silence.
So, that brings me to my story, it’s the same name, for an entirely different experience.
My friend texts me and strongly suggests I watch this movie, Planet of the Humans and he wants to discuss it with me. I trust him, his opinions, so of course, I comply and say I will soon. I start the movie with my husband Doug, it seems interesting, all about Darwin’s question of how we got where we are from monkeys and apes, how we evolved to have such complex brains. It’s a panel of scientists and philosophers from the World Science Festival. The first panelist, an anthropologist, gets into details about how slow humans are to develop compared to other animals, how we moved from all 4’s to bipedal and the differences that it caused in our brain growth. I can’t even begin to sum up the depth of knowledge that is encased in this talk.
They move onto the next panelist who we found quite interesting, Steven Pinker, who is a linguist and evolutionary psychologist. His theories start with how weird we are as a species that we would sit in a room for hours and listen to one person make noise as they exhale and the arbitrary combination of tens of thousands of signs and actions to create a language and how we co-evolved with tools….I have to stop here.
In trying to explain what this talk is about, it brings me back to the utter confusion and complexity of all that was shared. We stop the video every few minutes to rewind and try to understand these concepts. In the midst of several nights of watching this and really attempting to grasp it, all because a friend said, “please watch this” and then my brother texted, “have you watched POTH (Planet of the Humans)?” Now that it’s been mentioned twice, it seems important and worth our undivided attention.
The next night, I tell my other friend about it, she says, yes, I’ve seen it and it was released for Earth Day and is very controversial. I don’t see how that can be, but I’ve only seen about 20 minutes of the dense material so far so I leave it at that. Perhaps it has relevance to Climate change as she says. We joke about how the 2 movies have the same name and wonder how that happened with copyright laws.
Moving on to the next night and the next panelist. This guy is even harder to understand then the other two. At this point I remember my friend had wanted to discuss this with me, had texted to hold off on buying a windmill until I finish the movie, so I pull out my notebook and start taking notes about social coherence. I even go so far as to look up what social coherence actually is all the while feeling over my head with this conversation. The windmill text made no sense in light of this movie, but hang in there and it will all come together, I promise.
I notice the last panelist’s eyes glazing over too as he listens to Mr. Social Coherence, or at least that’s what I’m imagining is happening for him as he’s the philosopher of the bunch. Doug and I have a laugh about this and rewind to examine the eyes and they are definitely shifty.
Onto social coherence from the molecular biologist of the bunch. This is where it really gets off track for us and we wind up stopping and rewinding about every 20 seconds. Then, for about the third time since beginning POTH 3 days ago, Doug says “when is this going to get good”? I assure him that it definitely is good because my friend wouldn’t have suggested it and we just have to hang in there.
I then glance over at the side bar on YouTube where the movie is and notice the “other” Planet of the Humans by Michael Moore. I share this with Doug, thinking nothing of the connection and he comes to look over my shoulder and says, “Maybe this is the movie that we were SUPPOSED to watch recommended by your friend and your brother”. Then there was the complete, “how the heck did I miss this” moment. Utter hysteria ensues for at least 20 minutes calling my friend who had originally joked about the copyright infringement movie that is the real culprit of the windmill drama. It’s a Climate change disaster which for us has its origin in laughter.
Planet of the Humans, Leap to the top, August 2015
Planet of the Humans, presented by Michael Moore