Cultural Fitness

In Little Big Story’s video, The Secret Behind the World’s Best Green Tea, they tell the story of Fan Shenghua, a tea farmer from Hangzhou, China. Fan grows and makes some of the best tea in the world.

The techniques to prepare the tea are a millenial old practice passed down from his ancestors.

At the end of the video he said:

Nowadays, young people are reluctant to learn tea panning. I’ve been trying to recruit students for many years. Most parents would like their children to go to a good college which is somehow contradictory to choosing a traditional handcraft as a profession, such as growing and making tea. We would like the teach the skill to more people especially the young people. I don’t want to see the skill disappear in my generation.

At first, I found this heartbreaking. This tradition that has been passed down for centuries might go extinct. Yet, many traditions in the past have gone extinct. Why? Technology evolves, wars happen, climate change, there’s all sort of reasons.

This is the concept of memetics. Memetics is the idea of darwinian evolution applied to information and culture. Instead of genes we have memes. A meme is a unit of culture” (an idea, belief, pattern of behavior etc.) that gets passed down from mind to mind. If a meme is not desirable then it gets eliminated the meme pool.

Perhaps this tradition of tea panning will be a victim of a sort of natural selection. Though I sure hope that’s not the case.

October 5, 2020

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