The Collecting Gene

Increasingly, matters that used to be explained by personality and temperament are being shown to have a genetic base. The theory is not that one’s genetic makeup forces him to be a hypocrite or a republican (not that they are the same) but that genetics plays a prominent role in psychology and personality development. This adds a bit of weight to the nature side of the nature-nurture fulcrum. It isn’t an excuse for cheating on your wife, but it does help explain why people raised in the same environment often differ so much in temperament. But the human gene pool doesn’t change all that quickly. Rather, basic instinctual drives get acted upon in different ways. Witness the genetic predisposition for tearing your rivals with your teeth which civilization has tempered into using ridicule and sarcasm to achieve the same ends. But what has the collecting impulse, which in our childhood got us into philately, been morphed into. Collecting satisfies a need for order. That need hasn’t changed. Today’s young people line up their friends on Face Book in what looks like a stamp album of friends. They collect video games and save their money for the next technological innovation, not a set of zeppelins. What we are seeing is a sort of a delayed entry into our hobby. Many collectors today are in their thirties and forties, decades in which collecting used to lie dormant. I think the increased diversions of our time have led a generation to postpone the collecting phase of development so that many now are getting into collecting hobbies at a later age.

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