Russia is a weird place – not that anyone can blame them. It is an insane landmass, brutalised by geography and tempered by vodka. Imagine a nation with weather gods so cold that even Napoleon’s army, upon conquering the abandoned Moscow, were like, ‘Nah mate, this just isn’t worth it…’
Yesterday I found myself on the fringes of the internet watching one of their blokes attach four bungee ropes to inch-long bar-like piercings in his arse cheeks – squat at the top of a dodgy, rusted, structurally unsound relic of the USSR – and voluntarily throw himself off into the abyss.
Pretty soon he was suspended purely by his own folly. His screams echoed around the abandoned urban wasteland while his ‘friends’ were besides themselves in fits of laughter carrying a particular tone that can only come from watching men do stupid things for no reason.
Why didn’t anyone tell me that base jumping was so wild?
Before you all whinge about why anyone would do this sort of thing, I’ll have you know that the correct answer (according to the internet) is, ‘why not?’ Life is tough and humans have to find a way to entertain themselves.
When you think about it, this is no more crazy than strapping 770,000L of kerosene, 1,576,280L of liquid oxygen, and 1,236,750L of liquid hydrogen to your rear end before setting the whole lot on fire – all so that you travel to a lifeless rock without an atmosphere for a few hours on what amounts to a $28 billion joy ride.
We like to give men a lot of flak for doing stupid things. The BBC’s flagship show Top Gear turned it into an institution where men (and a lot of women) flicked over every week to watch Jezza, Captain Slow, and the Hamster doing things they really shouldn’t with cars; things that usually ended with a mangled wreck and a stern grimace from BBC Legal.
Testosterone is not the only driver for irrational human behaviour, but it certainly seems to be a risk factor. The pages of the Darwin Awards are over-represented by dudes with dumb ideas. To earn one of these, your behaviour has to be so brainless that you manage to permanently remove yourself from the gene pool. Special mention goes to Robert, who jetskied off Niagara Falls with a rocket booster and parachute.
Behind all the laughs and head shaking, what we are actually looking at is an evolutionary quirk. If the human race was made up entirely of perfectly rational, risk-averse individuals – we’d never have left the comfort of our caves.
Does anyone really think that a sane person volunteers to be the first sword-waving canon fodder to race into battle? There wouldn’t be a shred of liberty or peace without the morons of our world.
We didn’t climb to the top of the food chain by filling out risk-assessment forms.
It is our reckless stupidity and irrational sense of adventure that sends us to the edges of the map. Statistically speaking, every now and then you’re going to get a Russian hanging by his bollocks – but overall we owe the idiots and their over-sized balls a revered nod of ‘thanks’.
Alexandra Marshall is an independent writer. If you would like to support her work, shout her a coffee over at Ko-Fi.
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