Like practically everybody else in the country, I had never heard of the Trobriand Islands before. But alas, today I watched a documentary on them. Ooh, look how clever and sophisticated I am.

On said Islands somewhere near Australia, hut-dwellers would generally be chanting ooga booga around fires, bartering with coconuts, weaving straw hats and being, like, totally exotic. The main premise of their existence, from what I rather obtusely gathered, was this: The women stayed on the Islands, tending to the children and the crops with an equal amount of care, occasionally poking them with a stick and hoping they weren’t dead, whilst the men were responsible for building the huts and digging into caves (which, by the way, I thought were products of fictional works like The Goonies where they find One Eyed Willy on that primitive island thingy- but nope, people really do live in huts and caves). The younger boys were responsible for going out to sea and catching fish with no more than some wire, some wit, and the dexterity of their bare hands.

It looked easy, care free, I suppose. The voice over, who was a bit condescending, pointed this out approximately eighteen times- not that I was counting. The Trobriand Tribe was at ease. Halcyon and untroubled.

And lucky for them too, because I watched every moment teetering on a verge of frenzied panic, trying fiercely not to vomit up absolutely every one of my internal organs out of pure terror. Whilst these indigenous people were essentially sniffing each other’s arses like a dystopian 101 Dalmatians in a desiccating Primrose Hill, I grew uncomfortable (more uncomfortable than usual anyway, so feel free to pity). It was dizzying, like how sufferers of vertigo might feel. Except worse, because I bet vertigo is actually fun.

I didn’t fear the boys in their little rickety raft, probably fashioned from an insect-ridden plank, a banana skin and a dead relatives’ elbow joint found somewhere on the coast. Nor did I mind them dabbling in the water, yanking out a very-much-alive fish, carnivorously tearing its scaled head from its writhing body and letting its mangled insides trickle down their arms like Mr Whippy on a hot August afternoon. No, I didn’t flinch once.

It was more on a global scale that I panicked. That’s one of my best talents. You see, right now somebody probably just died, and potentially a plane may crash whilst you’re on your way to sunny wherever, or a bomb may go off whilst you’re sat in the cinema about to kiss that person you fancied with popcorn breath (in which case, you’re saved), and there are still impoverished children practically sat starving on our doorsteps, and oh look! Someone else just died, and this time it may or may not have been because they fell in front of a bus. Stop reading this and SAVE YOURSELF. SOS.

Still here? You dare devil, you.

Today’s reason we live in a Godless universe and that we should all worry is this: Those boys on the boat were jovially frolicking in the sea catching their little fish for their little island, and then the camera zoomed out, and they were actually in an ocean, and it zoomed out further and did this full scale trip of the Planet Fucking Earth, revealing that (A) These boys were probably going to die out there. But (B) Does it really matter?

In the grander scheme of things, no. Hey, let’s just shrug it off. Move on.

And that was what terrified me. I. Didn’t. Care. I can’t even muster any of my sympathy cells now, and those poor kids are probably washed ashore, rotting somewhere. I can’t relate to them. The closest I’ve been to a tribe is in a locally sourced café selling “dirty vegan food”, which I regret was very good and guiltily made me feel all cultural and travelled.  Well, Hare Bloody Krishna to you.

It’s too much for my Western, peanut sized brain to take. I’ve got the twenty first century breathing down my neck- actually, I stole that line from Morrissey, proving just how little I have my own thoughts- and stopping to think about a tribe on the opposite side of the world is difficult for me, both as a professional megalomaniac and having lived between selfish, mile high cities my entire life.

Unlike the Trobriand tribe, I can only remember feeling tranquil- at peace with one’s nature, I’ll say if I’m feeling particularly pretentious- twice. The former when dangling my ankles contentedly over the edge of Padstow Harbour, a book in hand and the sun beating down on me with its cancerous rays. And the latter being on the bank of the Thames, a book in hand, but shaded by the shadow of Waterloo Bridge and the humdrum buzz of central London, so this time no cancer. And despite the caveman fear of drowning mercifully at the bedrock of earth, my lungs swollen with salt water, sprouting gills and a tail like a cold-blooded vertebrate, I had an innate urge to jump in and swim, like those kids in the tribe did.

I envy them. You do too, even if you don’t know it. God, we’re disgusting. We’re always so slow, so meticulous and devoid of actually living in the west. Like, I’d never really jump into those deep waters because I’m too much of a coward, and isn’t every sort of exciting thing we do paid for? Sky diving, skiing, speed boating, rock climbing, tattooing, piercing, drinking, smoking. How lavishing the little quirks and pick me ups are. But there’s no intrinsic or inherent point to them. We’re essentially plugging gaps in our little human lives because, just like the boys on the boat, in the grander scheme of things, we’re rendered a bit futile, and guess what? We’re gonna die! Ha! In our faces!

But at least the Trobriand Islands Tribe has reason. The functions they perform, that some would call insane and ritualistic, are still more meaningful than our joyless existence, revolving mundanely in a vacuum of cheap tricks and thrills. Oh, you’re on the next level of candy crush? Well done you, you insufferable prick. Ah, you enjoy discussing the contemporary comparison between British art and literature? How fascinating, you vainglorious swine. You’ve got a new car and you’ve given it a personalised number plate and a name? Good for you, you unknowable, colossal twat.

Perhaps it’s time that we weren’t just heedless porcelain mannequins situated on shop floors A, B and C- but you know, erm, human again? Those things with limbs that sometimes do kind, thoughtful gestures, who live in communities and who embrace faith like them tribal people we guffaw about with creased, ageing faces, pointing and laughing at them with our podgy, over indulged fingers. And, you know, start living again?

Published by Olivia Fletcher