26 January, 2011

This Blog is Now All-Natural

This blog has been painstakingly constructed from a single source, using only electrons derived from the natural environment. Nothing in its make-up comes from anywhere other than Mother Earth - from the natural photograph (enhanced using natural software-based methods) to the text which is rendered in HTML derived from the minds of computer programmers, fed on foods processed by machines consisting of combinations of natural elements such as carbon.

Yes, as usual I'm being quite ridiculous and hyperbolic, but it's for a purpose: to illustrate one of my pet peeves, the idea that 'natural' is best....

Everything from cosmetics to learning processes is labelled as 'natural' to enhance its appeal. While in some cases there is a clear choice between a superior natural choice (for example, if you wanted a tree in your garden, an apple tree) and an inferior synthetic alternative (for example, a chess set, which while useful has few of the functions desirable in a tree). This much is obvious.

However this concept is taken by advertisers and opinion formers and tested to destruction.

Let's say you reject synthetic materials - concerned about possible toxins or other nasties in the industrial production process. No more nylon (named after New York and London), you opt for cotton t-shirts and jeans. Soon, though, you realise you're living a lie - cotton doesn't grow in England, and the denim style of weaving was invented in France. Do you see where I'm going with this? Final destination: eating raw hedgehogs (if you take out the spines you lose the nutrients) wearing uncrushed nettle overalls and only washing yourself when forced to cross a river in your daily struggle for survival. BECAUSE THAT'S THE NATURAL THING TO DO, RIGHT?

Another problem is the definition of what 'natural' is. 'Natural ingredients' basically means artificial one step along the production chain - after all, everything is made of natural elements at some point - the difference is how radically it has been changed.
In behavioural or societal arguments, when is natural? Does social networking disrupt the normal social order? What normal social order - the hippy 60's? Victorian times? What about telephones? Or telegraphs? Or writing itself? What about electric lighting? Candles? The Moon? (OK, too far).

Don't get me wrong, I don't think increasingly advanced technology necessarily always improves the quality of things.

But if there's a problem with something, let's be clear what the problem is- be it harmful chemicals or changes in societal norms - not whether or not it's "natural".


  1. i've had this pet peeve for years. most of the time, the energy to harvest and manufacture natural things (cotton for example) are more wasteful (fertilizer, petrol and crop waste) and energy consuming than oil-made products (which can often make hundreds of products from a single refining practice)

  2. I like the new look of your blog. The transporter bridge is great. I also like the name of your blog. Pretty much, I like your blog. This is the end of my post.