Cutlery: Challenge Your Assumptions
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 53 seconds
Frankfurt Airport, roughly two weeks ago. We’re waiting for our flight to Rome. As we are trying to board, everything halts and we are ushered back into the terminal. A thunderstorm is coming up and holy shit, it’s huge. No departure for us – yet. Out of boredom, I ask my boy Matthias to “name a topic”. What do you mean, name a topic?
“Dude, just name a topic. Anything, really.”
“OK bro. Cutlery. Why do you need that?”
“That’s the next blogpost that’s coming out.”
I am convinced that you can put an interesting spin on literally any topic if you’re a good writer. Hence, I wanted to hone my craft doing just that. So cutlery it is. Fuck. What can you write about that? Something that’s not totally boring? I don’t know, man …
Until I realized that cutlery actually is fucking awesome. Or, more specifically, the topic in itself is awesome. Let me show you why.
Why do we use cutlery? I’ve hypothesized about different things and done some research, but I am really not convinced. Doesn’t it make much more sense to eat with your hands? Upon closer investigation, you don’t need cutlery to eat any dish, really. A thick steak might be hard to eat, but your teeth should be a lot stronger than the average knife. We eat burgers, fries and pizza with our hands, so why not pasta, soup and salad too? Other cultures do this as well – in India and Ethiopia it is very common to eat your food with hands, and I’ve heard (no citeable source though) that in Ghana, people eat soup with their hands. The purpose of making eating possible therefore is not a valid reason to use cutlery.
In fact, cutlery hasn’t been around for that long. While knives that are used to prepare food have been around for ages, forks, spoons, sporfs and whatnot (somebody on Wikipedia actually took the time to put together a list of all cutlery, which raises two questions: holy shit what do you need all this for, and is there really not a higher impact that can be generated with your time than putting together a list of fucking cutlery?) have first been mentioned in the 13th century. There, the term of the profession “cutler” first appeared in a tax declaration (quick aside here: this then is also what ex-Bears QB Jay Cutler’s ancestors did for a living – guess that skill doesn’t translate to football). Considering all human evolution (or at least the time homo sapiens has been around), we’ve basically not used cutlery at all; especially because back in the day, cutlery was reserved for the filthy wealthy. Hence, there is absolutely no reason to use cutlery, because our nutrition hasn’t changed that much in the past couple hundred years.
Let’s look at another factor: hygiene. One could argue that eating with your hands you do all other kinds of funky stuff with isn’t exactly hygienic. Therefore, we use cutlery. However, we’re taught to wash our hands before eating. This certainly makes sense, but why wash hands if we use cutlery anyway? I believe that washing hands before eating is actually a leftover from the times when we were still eating with our hands. KInd of a strange thought, isn’t it?
Now, the usage of cutlery has become cultural etiquette by now and there are even two-day seminars on which fork and which knife to use for which course. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you create a market for your product – by establishing social norms that serve no visible purpose. This notion, however, is starting to change as reported by the NY Times. Some argue that eating with your hands is more natural and gives you a more intense eating experience; other say that it’s good for the body to go back to your wild, stone age self.
Challenge Your Assumptions
Whatever it is – the point here isn’t whether we should use cutlery or not. This decision is up to your discretion. The point here is that we walk through our lives with countless assumptions that are never even attempted to be challenged. We use cutlery because we’ve always done it this way. Why? No fucking clue. This is the same in all areas of our society. I mostly observe it in our own lives and in business.
Many companies do things a certain way because “they’ve always been done this way.” While it certainly made sense at one point in time to do things “this way”, it doesn’t necessarily make sense to do it anymore. Challenge your company culture. Challenge the status quo. We at our company Linguedo do exactly that. Go to a villa in Southern France for two weeks with the whole team to work from there? Sounds crazy and a little bit weird, right? But then again, why the fuck not? We create our own reality, we create our own world. And so can you.
You’re the master of your world. You’re the creator of your reality. You can do things the way YOU want to do them – who says it has to be different? If that means to be weird, that’s totally okay. Let the others talk. Most of the time, they’ll be busy worrying about themselves anyway. Take charge of your life and challenge your assumptions about the status quo. They might turn out to be total nonsense.
And then, by all means, feel free to get yourself a nice plate of food and dig in with your hands. Who says you can’t?
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