Monday, 18 May 2009

How wildcats face the conformity trap

Wildcats lead simple, but fulfilled lives. When they go hunting, usually at night, they just have to decide on the menu. Mice, birds, and rabbits are specially tasty, but failing those, frogs and bugs are equally fine.

In many ways, wildcats live in the face of danger and this is why many people react with surprise when they learn that, in some areas of the world, the number of undomesticated felines is growing by leaps and bounds.

When a cat turns five months old, it must make a decision that will determine the course of its entire life: to choose freedom or to become a pet, two alternatives that none can evade.

Each option has its bright side, but positive traits make no one upset. It is the drawbacks, the problems you'll get, those are the nightmares that make young cats sweat.

When they make their choice, cats already know what kind of future they can expect. Neither wilderness nor domestication are without threat. For a young cat, the essential question is taking the path that will bring less regret.

Conformity has so many advantages that, nowadays, it has become the choice by default. Few are told that its short-term sweetness must be counterbalanced by long-term blindness. Seldom is the fact mentioned that domestication makes individuals lose their capacity for invention.

Change remains possible, although never easy, and it is often fraught with unintended consequences. This is why tales of horror about the wilderness are conveniently circulated when faith is about to default. “Quitting is not an option,” has been written on every wall. Fear of freedom is the only wisdom that pets can recall.

What explains then the call of the wild? Why is an increasing number of individuals reassessing past choices and exploring new options? What are the reasons behind this newly-found willingness to join the renegade cats?

Without a doubt, the following two motives play a major role:

1.- MASSIVE REDUCTION OF START-UP COSTS. These days, affordable telecommunication services are allowing entrepreneurs to outsource their non-essential business processes around the world at highly competitive prices. The cost of leasing brick-and-mortar retail space has also plummeted in some cities due to the economic recession.

2.- IMMEDIATE AVAILABILITY OF STANDARD SOLUTIONS. Sophisticated software applications for electronic commerce are now available at low monthly fees. Merchant accounts and professional-looking websites can be set up in less than an hour. A few years ago, this sort of infrastructure would have eaten up most of the capital of a new venture and would have taken months to develop. Now it is immediately available on the web.

Technology has brought the entrepreneurial wilderness within the reach of everyone. At any age and in any circumstances, individuals can now change their life and choose the way of the wildcat.

When you go hunting, you just have to decide on the menu. Global markets and internet businesses are specially tasty, but failing those, local malls are equally fine.


[Image by digitalART2 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under]