Christie’s Chronicles: Anthropomorphism problems
EDITOR’S NOTE: Christie’s Chronicles is a new monthly column by Journal Staff Writer Christie Mastric that will run the last weekend of each month.
At first I balked about naming my column Christie’s Chronicles, as I realize that alliteration is overused in literature. But that’s what my column at a previous job was named, and I want to continue the tradition for my throngs of fans who miss reading about my insights.
One of those insights, though, disturbs me a little.
This particular strange trait involves attributing human feelings and emotions to non-human entities.
A fancy word for this is anthropomorphism. Wikipedia says it’s considered to be an innate tendency of human psychology.
My version, though, takes it to a new level. It’s not just enjoying the Easter Bunny, which is taking an ordinary rabbi
My take involves an uneaten Cheerio.
I suppose people could understand me not wanting to throw away a stuffed animal after it becomes tattered. That usually has a face, and an overly cute one at that, compounded by an emotional attachment.
But is a Cheerio cute? Its name indicates it is, but the cereal itself is just an O-ring of grain and other ingredients.
Yet, I worry they have souls and want to be loved. If I consume most of the Cheerios in my morning breakfast bowl, what do the uneaten ones think? Do they believe they are unworthy? Are they unhappy over the prospect of being unceremoniously tossed in the trash where they will dry out inevitably?
I can’t bear the thought, so I eat every one, helping them achieve their Cheerio destiny.
I attribute humanlike thoughts to other things as well, and I suppose there’s an inherent danger in that considering that these organisms probably don’t care what’s going through my head.
Take the large “Super Pumpkin” my now-husband and I had by our doorstep some Halloweens ago. A passerby asked if he could have it, but I declined, thinking it had a few more good days of Super Pumpkinness.
Boy, was I wrong. Super Pumpkin met an undignified end on the street, its once proud orb smashed into a bunch of Super Pumpkin bits.
Not wanting to repeat this spectacle, I took Super Pumpkin 2020 to a woodlot across the street where a white-tailed deer, or some other hungry wild animal, ate it until it disappeared completely.
Could Super Pumpkin take pride in that its demise provided meals for local wildlife? Did it appreciate that I was giving it a better send-off than just being left to rot in our yard? I am hoping it would, but I can’t ask it.
After all, we didn’t carve a face into it, so that automatically means it had fewer emotions — and maybe none at all — than one with a dorky smile and triangle eyes.
In the natural world, perhaps nothing has fewer emotions than a rock, yet I have a hard time accepting this.
A few decades or so ago, my sister and I were looking for geodes in southern Indiana, and I came across a large one, what I called my “mother lode” of geodes. I displayed it in front of my garden apartment window, where it was gleaned, probably unintentionally, by what I suspect were landscapers.
In retrospect, that probably wasn’t the best place to put a prized rock. Still, I wonder where it ended up.
However, when these things happen, I have to justify the experience. Perhaps my Indiana geode is in someone’s yard, or at the least, spiffing up a landfill, perched majestically on top of a can of rancid canned meat.
My tendency to anthropomorphize even encroaches on my buying habits.
Back in the day when I first entered the world of fabric softeners, I had to make a choice. Lined on the grocery store shelves were many options, and I made to make one.
Catching my eye was the Snuggle bear, who seemed to be saying to me in a high-pitched voice, “Won’t you buy me?”
I succumbed, and bought the Snuggle brand. I have been using it ever since with the knowledge I’m making the bear very happy and wearing static-free clothes at the same time.
It really is a nice way to go through life.