Friday, November 3, 2023

Grunting and Groaning

Why do older people - particularly men - grunt and groan a lot?

Human behavior isn't hard to understand, if you view it through the lens of Darwinism.  Everything we do has some survival instinct associated with it, just as every part of our body has some function - or had - that helped us survive.  People use to say the Appendix was a "vestige" organ, but some Doctors today are now saying it has a function in fermenting gut bacteria.  Too bad it can turn into a hand-grenade and kill you at a moment's notice.

But everything we do has some survival benefit - or did.  We like to think we are an intelligent, thinking species, but in reality we are a poorly-programmed neural network - a bag of chemicals and electric impulses that we really have little or no control over.  Every few decades, humanity goes insane and goes on a killing spree, as it appears we are poised to do very soon now.  People are all riled up over "freedom!" and are willing to destroy democracy and install a dictator and abolish freedom - to save it!

It makes no sense, but then again, people make no sense.  But war probably has some evolutionary value, sad to say.  The strongest and fittest survive, the weak and frail end up dead.  In more recent wars, the strongest and dumbest are sent to the front to be slaughtered, while the smartest and cleverest stay far behind the lines to direct the war or develop weapons or decrypt communications.  Wars in the 20th Century have been the biggest driver of technology.

And since World War II, we've used "proxy wars" to test out new weapons and tactics.  The Ukraine war is a case in point - we are finally entering the era of drone warfare. Dimestore drones can drop a hand grenade down the hatch of a multi-million-dollar tank, killing everyone inside. In response, the Russians have rigged up canopies over their tanks, designed to cause grenades to bounce off.  We never would have learned about these strategies and counter-strategies, without the war to test them out.  It is a bloody business.

But I digress.

What is the evolutionary function of old men (mostly men) grunting and groaning when they have to bend down or get up from kneeling on the ground?  Yes, it is a response to discomfort and pain, but why does going "Oooomph!" make it better?

It seems to me that one function is to distract you from the pain.  You let out a grunt and like a Lamaze breathing exercise, it helps block the pain for an instance.  But it also annoys the crap out of your spouse, or anyone else in the vicinity.

But, perhaps this also has some survival function.  Maybe it alerts others to the disability of the grunter.  We see all the time here on Old People Island, the elderly wives asking husbands to lift things they have no business lifting.  When Dad lets out a grunt, Mom realizes she is abusing her spouse and then asks the neighbor boy (strong back, weak mind) to lift it, instead.  And perhaps these grunts and groans are a way for the grunter to realize they are no longer a youth and in fact, may be damaging their bodies by trying to lift heavy things.

Maybe.  There has to be some reason for it.  People don't just do things for no reason, in general.