A little while ago I posted about the Monkeysphere, and how there is a maximum number (Dunbar’s number) of social relationships that social animals (including humans) can simultaneously maintain. If a person (or animal) is outside your monkeysphere, you do not view him/her/it as a social companion, and may find it difficult to generate empathy for him/her/it.
Here’s an example of that happening now. Bavaria (like other countries) sends, probably, hundreds of thousands of cows to the slaughterhouse annually, but here’s a group frantically trying to save one loose, wandering cow.
It’s not that I disagree with the idea — and, from a fundraising point of view, it makes a lot of sense. Having a name and a face on your campaign will definitely help raise money. “We’re trying to save Yvonne!” will get more people interested in your cause than “We’re trying to save 100,000 anonymous cows!” It’s just a fascinating example of the Monkeysphere in action. Yvonne entered these people’s monkeysphere, and suddenly they can see her as a social companion, and suddenly it becomes worth purchasing not only her, but a former “stall mate” of hers, as well as mobilizing search and rescue units on all-terrain vehicles, to rescue her.
The other cows in Yvonne’s herd? Too many faces — won’t fit in the monkeysphere. Off they go.
(Not saying anything bad or good here. We all do our best with what we have. The rescue certainly cannot take in 100,000 cows every year, and Yvonne will definitely help them with their mission, benefiting the other cows indirectly by being their “ambassador”. There’s no right or wrong here. Just…pausing to look at the world as it goes by.)
(On a similar note, this article “introducing you to the truck driver you just flipped off” is trying to get you to add truck drivers, in general, to your monkeysphere in order to get you to empathize with them and reduce incidents of road rage. Did it work?)