Dogs and Humans.

There was a study published in ScienceDaily on April 26, 2007. It reported a phenomenon observed in dogs called “selective imitation”. It basically says that dogs, like humans infants, copy an action they observe, and they copy it selectively the extent being guided by circumstances. It was rather an interesting experiment. In the study, dogs were made to open a container of food by pulling a rod. Dogs, being dogs, prefer to use the mouth to do so. They trained a female dog to open the box with her paw. Seeing the female dog open the container, other dogs imitated selectively to get the food. They used their mouth to manipulate the rod when they had seen the female dog use her paw while holding a ball in her mouth. However, when the ball was removed, other dogs imitated her completely and used their paw to open the container.

Following is a paragraph from the source article stating what was inferred from the study.

“This means that the way the dogs imitate is tuned to the goal of the action. If the dogs perceive the demonstrator being unable to use her mouth, because she holds a ball in it, they choose the easier, more preferred way to achieve the goal. But when the mouth is free, there appears to be a reason for the demonstrating dog not to use her mouth, and so the dogs imitate the action.”

So when the female dog had a ball in her mouth the other dogs said to themselves, “what a stupid female!” And when her mouth was free, they all went like “Mother of god. That is so damn cool! Let’s do so.” The study also pointed out that there exist a striking parallel between dogs and humans; it went on saying “dogs seem more similar to us humans than are our biologically closest relatives, the chimpanzees”. The trend I have seen in past 2 and a half years of being in VIT, I would say so damn right they are!

When I had stepped my foot in VIT, there were only 3-4 graphic/web designers in my year (10 at max) and everyone who saw me working on photoshop went like “Hey, you gotta teach me this!” and I happily replied “Why not, anytime.” Today, after more than 2 years of trying on digging into this field (I’d rather say it’s a black hole), I cannot even count the number of people who call themselves good at it (I am just talking about my year group right now). And this phenomenon, this explosion of fancy hats on digital screens is not just restricted to one particular field. It is a phenomenon that can be observed today in almost every field, more specifically, fields that call for digital creativity.

We now have a new facebook photography page created every other month. No wonder chimpanzees are saddened by new comparison studies. Over that, they would probably want to kill themselves having a look at their photoshoped picture loved by over a hundred facebookers, yes the like button. The truth is, present is a world where mediocre is the new cool thing. Any level of creativity can be attained by a few clicks and Adobe Creative Suite, quite literally. Upload it online and you’ve got a fan base.

Is it a bad thing? I think it’s a great thing. Every one of us lives to find a purpose, a reason how so small or momentary it may be, just a reason to make us believe we too can do something. This very sense of achievement is what human heart thrives to live for. But is this really an achievement? Or the glory of it is making us confuse average with extraordinary?

“Do not be desirous of having things done quickly. Do not look at small advantages. Desire to have things done quickly prevents their being done thoroughly. Looking at small advantages prevents great affairs from being accomplished.” Confucius

Most of us are so eager to run past the bar that we duck down under. And the rest of us are often bogged down by the mere number of those who take the shortcut. It’s like a big garbage box, even if you throw in a gold ring, from far, it still is a piece of crap.

We’ve lost it. We’re just a big group of dogs copying each other, copying the cooler ones, may be the real ones. With so many designers, photographers, writers, debaters, the list goes on. In short, people who call themselves different (yes me and you), are we really so?

They think if they have a DSLR, a facebook cover posing them taking a picture and a facebook page with dozens of photoshoped picture, they are great photographers. If they can just finish that tutorial course, they’ll be masters of photoshop and web design. If they could copy the first para from here, the last from there, mix it up a little, post it on facebook and get a hundred likes, they are great writers. (I’m not saying they are not. And I’m very sorry if it sounds offensive. I’m saying it just isn’t that. It is years of hard work and creativity that counts, not the number of clicks on your screen. A few likes are good to boost our confidence but we must not fool ourselves by standing in front of the mirror and saying “I am so good ;)”. Unless you follow the exercise, practice it thoroughly and experiment, tutorials serve no purpose. You don’t even need a DSLR to be a good photographer.)

Facebook, does it ring a bell? The garbage box, the dog house! I’m not blaming it all on facebook. It is this revolution that we are just a minute away from each other. It has changed the way we communicate and share. But it is this directory of trained dogs we look forward too. We imitate the successful, after all just a few clicks it takes right? Who needs creativity?

We believe today is full of talent and unique abilities that are selling. Is it so? I would like to say that it isn’t true in its entirety. We might have a thousand new things we can do, make huge amount of money out of it, but despite of having a billion people doing it, we still lack talent. As I said, we are dogs; we imitate our mates for attention and glory. We are far behind the bar. In fact, the bar has been raised much higher now, you have to come to the surface and jump out of the bin.

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