Friday, January 23, 2015

Monkeys In Sweaters

Recently saw a video of a monkey in a sweater. Someone had put one of those ridiculous Christmas sweaters on him and he was literally tearing his way out of it. Obviously, Bongo didn't appreciate the fashion statement.

Now, think about what you just read and the assumption I made.

While I'm sure that some of the folks in my past would try to make a strong argument that I have no problem understanding how monkeys think I can't honestly say that I don't know whether the monkey didn't like how the sweater looked or whether it itched or whether he simply prefered going au natural.

Which brings me to a point...when folks talk about animals looking "embarrassed" or "sad" or "happy," how do they know?

I heard a great phrase the other day: Anthropomorphic Conceit.

Anthropomorphism is when we humans ascribe human traits to animals or stuff (ex. robots). As humans we use a variety of terms to describe how we think animals feel in certain situations and the truth is that we don't...have...a...clue. And as for stuff, it's inanimate, it's just stuff.

It may be the height of prestige in the dog world to be a beagle wearing a kitten sweater and pushing a little grocery cart with a sombrero-wearing chihuahua in it on the David Letterman Show. All the barking in the neighborhood that night may be canines calling each other and saying, "Hey! Did you see Tommy and Lopez on Letterman?! They were killin' it! Why can't that be us?!!"

Let me stumble to my point here...We do the same thing with other people. We often believe we know how other people feel...but we don't, not really. We know how we might feel or have felt when we've experienced a similar situation, but we don't really know how THEY feel.

I hear people talking about retiring and some of them seem...mmmm...inordinately excited. My first thought is that they hate their jobs. But a lot of them don't, they love what they do. They are just excited about moving on to the next phase of life.

So, when you think  you know what someone is thinking or going through be careful about assuming you know what their thoughts and feelings are. Some of them feel exactly as you would/did...others are simply monkeys in sweaters.

Bundle up and have a great weekend!

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