The rain pelts down and streams of rainwater congregates into a huge muddy puddle at the base of the camp. Even under the shelter, raindrops seep through gaps in the leaves overhead. The once crackling fire is now barely smouldering.
The picture of the camp is almost prehistoric, but in reality, it’s a dreary autumn weekend in 2018.
Primitive Technology (PT) dates to the early stages of human kind when modern materials manufactured by man were non-existent. To survive, you had to amass materials and form a hut for shelter. There were no convenience stores a short walk away. To accumulate food for energy, you had to scavenge for berries in the forest or build mechanisms to capture small creatures to then cook or roast over a fire.
Today the primitive lifestyle is most commonly lived by indigenous tribes, often on islands surrounding Africa, Australia and South America, but in recent years it has also been picked up as a hobby by people across the west. Like camping, people would go on short expeditions to experience this lifestyle.
[pullquote align=”right”]“It’s the one activity that is a complete escape from reality and taking us back to our roots.”[/pullquote]Primitive Technology unlike most survival hobbies such as Bushcraft, which is a popular style of camping that you use man-made resources that you purchase, from items like steel knives, silverware and synthetic ropes, then take advantage of that product that already exists and use it for its purpose.
PT practitioners would state this as “skipping a stage”. There are some people that would much rather experience something one step further. They believe that “the grasp of relying on nature and your own set of hands is much more appealing and rewarding as an alternative of what can be bought from the shop.”
Artefact spoke to Reddit user who goes by the name of ‘Ludinev’, a young person that follows the /primitivetechnology thread on Reddit. He explained that he discovered Primitive Technology when he stumbled across a YouTube channel called ‘Primitive Technology’ from his recommended list after watching similar camping videos.
The channel’s content centres on a man that travels to the woods with a video camera. He records footage of himself building shelters with solid tiles, which he makes from mud and a DIY furnace, and weapons from using small branches and a stone which he sharpens. He also creates farm patches as an alternative food source for meat.
The YouTube channel has almost nine million subscribers, but throughout all forty videos, he is yet to say a word. “His silence makes you feel like you could be him building in the wild, he is straight to the point and doesn’t disappoint. He values quality over quantity.”
Ludinev believes most people watching the videos are not experiencing the hobby as they do not have access to the wilderness, as many people will be living in towns or cities. He has a strong sense that PT will slowly grow over the years until it becomes as popular as regular camping. With the increase of people joining threads on Reddit and the size of the audience on YouTube videos constantly increasing, “it will only be a matter of time until it becomes so well known it will be deemed as normal.”
Ludinev frequently crafts weapons using tutorials, following along what other practitioners on YouTube do. “I enjoy doing PT things because I have always loved to create things, and recently I found that ceramics are my art of choice. The appeal of building with nature is that I don’t need to buy any materials, as I have nearly infinite materials that I can have for myself for free. It also gives a greater sense of accomplishment.”
An example to demonstrate this would be if you were to make a wicker basket from cattails and vines, which you cut down using a flint knife that you knapped yourself, you would feel a greater accomplishment as opposed to simply going to a store and purchasing a plastic crate.
Ludinev does not live primitively, however, he told us he is “going to begin building a mud hut in summer which I may attempt to ‘live’ in for a night.”
He lives in an adequate home but will be using the woodland surrounding his property to set camp. He currently spends a lot of time and effort on creating his own crafts then posting them on the Reddit thread to show off his creations. There will be hundreds of comments from other users that will compliment or give feedback on his creation, often asking him for advice.Google Trends shows the increase in searches on Google from 2004 until the present day, the huge growth in interest after 2015 could have been sparked by the genre of PT videos being uploaded onto YouTube. Pages on Facebook and Twitter share and promote these videos, the comments would contain compliments and more links and people would state how amazed they were and how skilful practitioners must be to achieve such incredible work. Primitive Technology is also most frequently searched in South Korea, Vietnam and Russia.
Artefact also spoke to David, a 33-year-old who works in the corporate sector in Birmingham. He began following PT in the summer of 2017: “Primitive Technology is the perfect escape from our rat race jobs. It’s the one activity that is a complete escape from reality and taking us back to our roots, away from everyone and everything that is a burden to our stressful lives. It gives us time to reflect on ourselves. I think there are many mental health benefits to taking part.”
David finished the conversation by saying: “As humans, we have a responsibility to be in touch with nature.” Some go on hikes, others go on bike rides. Primitive Technology practitioners want to be as close to nature they can physically be, just for small periods of time, to remind them what humankind has come from and to escape from their normal lives. They don’t want assistance from corporation or manufacturers.
“Evolution and society has come a long way since the primitive days,” David said. “But as a species on planet Earth, we are still living and breathing because of our survival instincts that were born into us.”
Featured Image by NatWhitePhotography via Pixabay CC