“Phenotypic plasticity is the ability of an organism to alter its physiology in response to changes in environmental conditions.” The morphological evolution through the years is a mere form of survival; adaptation to a different climate, new conditions for the sessile species, etc...
Today, with the proliferation of digital and surgical technologies, a new kind of plasticity has become a norm, a rather manual and swift one. The plasticity in question is no longer a survivalist genotypic reaction to produce a different phenotype, but rather a pathogenic submission to social pressure, a conformity with redefined physiological norms by man himself, and a struggle to fit in. In an era of hunger for desirability, perpetual youth, and attention, we find ourselves ready to shed layers of our own or wear new ones, digitally or physiologically, discarding old identities and drawing new ones. Is this how we find our true selves in this new world, or do we somehow lose ourselves along the way?
The spines of a cactus are originally leaves, ones that evolved through millions of years in order to preserve internal humidity and limit evaporation, to protect the plant from the sun and from animals that are after the water it retains. Having its guard up earned the cactus the reputation of being unapproachable, now symbolizing pain and abstinence from physical contact. Having its guard down and teaming up with an artificial predator, the plant draws away accusations of hostility, but becomes a victim of its own new survival plan. Placed next to its digital illusory representation and looked down at rather than up, the real version feels underwhelming and vapid.