I had a dream last night of an Orwellian world in which we (citizens) were being assigned seats that all faced in the same direction. We were required to face one way at all times, which seemed to be A-OK with most everyone, but not me. When I woke up this morning, I was thinking about the story of The Hundredth Monkey that goes like this:
The Hundredth Monkey. Back in the 1960s, some Japanese scientists observed an interesting phenomenon in the Macaque monkeys on the island of Koshima that lived on sweet potatoes they ate all covered with dirt. One monkey started washing his before eating it, and gradually, others monkeys started washing their potatoes as well. Very slowly the new behavior manifested, until one day in 1962, the behavior was suddenly universal. All the monkeys — that is to say 100% of the monkeys on Koshima Island, were all washing their potatoes before eating. The scientists reported this happened as soon as “the hundredth monkey” changed its behavior. Their conclusion was that “a critical number” of members in species is required before a new behavior or idea is adopted. And then it is. Literally overnight.
This phenomenon, known as “the hundredth monkey effect,” is now considered a “supposed phenomenon” because some of the original findings have been discredited. Still, for me, it works beautifully as a metaphor (and as a cautionary tale) because in one way, being the hundredth monkey would be an excellent thing. But in my dream last night, becoming the hundredth monkey would have made it a nightmare.