Margaret Mead was a controversial anthropologist from the 60’s in america. One thing not controversial though, and maybe that has made more famous recently than any of her research or publications - is the story of a short annecdote, which has become viral all over the internet.
The story goes like this:
“A student once asked anthropologist Margaret Mead, “What is the earliest sign of civilization?” The student expected her to say a clay pot, a grinding stone, or maybe a weapon.
Margaret Mead thought for a moment, then she said, “A healed femur.”
A femur is the longest bone in the body, linking hip to knee. In societies without the benefits of modern medicine, it takes about six weeks of rest for a fractured femur to heal. A healed femur shows that someone cared for the injured person, did their hunting and gathering, stayed with them, and offered physical protection and human companionship until the injury could mend.
Mutual Care Makes Us More Human
There are not many points that draw that much consensus. Mutual care is clearly something we… care… about as a species. We value it as a society.
The fabric of society - beyond culture and politics - is really made of this very specific trait.
Caring for each other has probably a lot of way to express itself.
It can be to fix your fellow human’s bones, or it can be simply to want your people to succeed, to root for their success. I don’t know exactly if we can qualify it, or categorise it so well. But clearly something we recognize when we see it.
Why does it matter?
I try to stick to topics that deal with mostly deal technology and design.
So it would be somehow legitimate to ask why even bother with that kind of topics? Like, we get it, it is nice and fluffy and all, but being human has no KPIs, does it?
Well, while we may not be a able to measure how much “human” is the business or the products, we can bet it will influence its success, and this, we can measure.
See, people do not just adopt products because of their great features, while it does clearly play a major role, but beyond that, a product needs to make sense, to resonate with the audience to gain a large adoption, and this cannot be played at the utilitarian level.
We need to up the game to the meaning of the product, to its value.
Which, by the way, it and always was what branding was about.
And once we recognise that one of the most fundamental element we value as human is mutual care, well, then it should be something to take in consideration.
And especially given how 2020 has treated us, it is probably time to add mutual care to the brief.