A Blogazine, based out of Park Slope, Brooklyn, that features fun and interesting articles. Topics include: parenting, society, real estate, career, style, spirituality and more. Written contributions are always welcome!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Anthropomorphism to the Rescue?

By Mark Casarta

Did you ever notice that we tend to give human traits to animals? You can see it around you every day: the Cheetos Cheetah, Boots the Monkey on Dora the Explorer and even Lassie? Just think of all of those Disney movie characters and, come to think of it, all of those childrens television shows!

The term for giving human traits to animals in our minds, stories and media is Anthropomorphism, and the practice is a bit controversial. First of all, it may be responsible for people's stupidity in dealing with animals in the wild (ie. trying to pet a cute wild bear cub, just before it scratches your eyeballs out). Second, it removes us further from the realities of our food sources by giving cute faces and names to the animals we eat. Some even argue that this practice disconnects us from the realities of our eco-system and the important role that each animal and plant plays in this fragile balance.

As a dedicated environmentalist, I'm aware of all of these criticisms and I take all of them seriously. However, as my son Jake grows older, I have come to think that Anthropomorphism can play a positive role in saving our planet. How? Well, it has become really clear to me that Jake, like many children, is interested in: trucks, trains, cars and animals (in no particular order). Nothing gets his attention like a picture of a fish or shark or even a cow. What better way to teach him about the fragile state of our planet than to introduce it to him slowly through the use of human-like animals? I mean, how else will we get their attention, other than boring them early-on about garbage and recycling? From where I stand, it may well be the generation of Go,Diego,Go! (a show that features a lot of cute, talking endangered animals being rescued by Diego) who will help to save our planet.

Am I concerned that our children are growing up without knowing the dangers of animals in the wild? A bit, but I'll trade the future health of the planet for their wilderness survival instinct, any day.

Mark Caserta has over 10 years of experience in environmental policy and politics. In 2004, he opened an eco-friendly home and lifestyle store in Park Slope, Brooklyn known as 3r Living, with his wife Samantha.

Their products are carefully selected with the principles of reducing waste, reusing unwanted or discarded materials, and recycling in mind. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. 3r. Mark is also a regular contributor to Hip Slope Mama.