Fire as a Social Media

Last few nights here I have had a fire in our fireplace. Lets face it. Fire is one of those social and cultural basics. People used fire as a medium for all sorts of events in their cultural and social lives. I was thinking about it perhaps at an anthropological and social level as I sit here by myself with beer and the fire churning. Fire is this primitive ingredient to building reasonable and realistic social media. How you may ask? Well, let me perambulate.

Fire is a technology which allows people to socially gather, exchange ideas, cook their food, tell their stories. In other words, ensure that the cultural values that they believe are worthwhile are passed on to a new generation. The children see the monsters, the heroes in the licking flames of the fire on the wood. They hear their elders tell them on cold nights about the days past. They may drift off to dreams laden with fantasies about the fire event.

We all know how important and basic the act of building a fire is. It allows us to not only stay warm but to engage. We engage others in front of a fire. Whether we once were cub scouts and sat at camp outs as the stories evolved and revolved around the fire or we cooked at the fire or we just sat silently there seeing our own monsters in the yellow and red and blues that dance the logs.

I think prehistorically fire was all these things. They framed and formed how people interact, live, grow up, die and how legends were passed on to new generations. The very act of sitting around a fire on a cold night must have been therapeutic and cathartic. I remember sitting in the evenings in the Mojave Desert with a group of like-minded strange people. We told ghost stories, drank a bit of alcohol but most of all we acted and reacted to our moments. It let us drift into worlds of stars and when you gazed from the fire to the stars perhaps it struck you that those worlds were not so far.

I’ve written a few times about some anthropological and archeological ideas and theories I had around firepits. How people socialized and gathered and how their populations grew in the western Mojave Desert. Sitting here watching the fire burn, watching our cat sit patiently by it, lets me see how important and basic the fire is as a social and technological conduit.

Most of all its important at this basic and personal level. It lets us warm, eat, exchange ideas. Grow.