#1286 - anthropomorphism
Humans have the fascinating ability to humanize everything. We do it every day with a lot of non-human stuff. I still remember when I became fully aware of this ability. It was at the beginning of my developer career, and this guy was constantly talking with his computer as if it were a person. He yelled at it when something was not working as expected, asking favours, saying hello and goodbye.
It was funny to watch. And then I realized I was doing the same with many things. I still do.
In psychology, this tendency is called anthropomorphism. It is the innate human tendency to attribute human traits, emotions, or intentions to non-human entities. This is a well-written essay if you want to learn more.
What I find fascinating and unsettling at the same time, it's that coupled with this ability to humanize stuff also comes the ability to dehumanize people.
We are so good at doing that. All it takes is to slap a label on a group of people, and suddenly, they are something, not someone.
Just observe how we talk about immigrants, the homeless, and all those people we feel are different from us.
It's a great way to quiet the conscience.
We would never say or do certain things to other human beings. But once we dehumanize them, that sense of guilt is gone, we feel better, and life gets easier.
That's why I believe one of our greatest challenges is fully rediscovering our humanness. So we can recognize that humanness in everyone else.