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Do You Like People?

Eleni Vlachos of Porch Life Productions (and "Seeing Through the Fence") is also a musician (she’s a singer, drummer and strummer in Beloved Binge). Check out Beloved Binge’s MySpace page, and particularly the song "I Don’t Like People."

I don’t like people.
I don’t like people.
Still . . . I’m tryin’.

Today’s questions: Do you like people? Do you struggle with misanthropy? Do you generally like nonhuman animals better than animals? Do you find yourself saying you don’t like people? (I’m reminded of the people who say "I hate kids," but they really don’t. Some really do.) Do you have to try to like people?

16 Comments Post a comment
  1. Lyda #

    I do like people, but I get accused of not liking people when I try to help animals. I guess that is the only way some people are able to view things us against animals.

    In people I see a lot of animal behavior of course.

    The only problem with liking people is sometimes feeling let down. If I have a friend who I know is a really good person, who cares about other people, who cares about animals and the planet even, but just can't seem to consider the idea that their diet causes harm and suffering. I find that hard to take sometimes. It doesn't mean I don't like them I just wish they'd try to consider things from a new viewpoint.

    September 17, 2008
  2. I don't struggle with misanthropy; I embrace it.

    Seriously, I think very few people are misanthropists in the sense of actually hating the entire human species as a species. However, it is likely that in more than small numbers and with more than minimal technology, we're always going to have a very destructive effect on the ecological systems around us so maybe we are a mistake. It's the actions and values of most modern people along with their numbers which disgust me.

    I'm convinced that a major crash in human population is near along with a much simpler lifestyle to follow. Maybe the folks who survive will relearn how to live with more humility and respect for other species, and be more likable.

    In the meantime, yes, I definitely prefer nonhumans to most humans just as I'd rather be walking in the woods than on a city sidewalk.

    September 17, 2008
  3. meerkat #

    I usually like most people well enough on an individual basis, but I do not like them as a group. So no, I don't like people, although I like individual people. Maybe you could call it misanthropy. I don't see the need to try to like people as a group though.

    I do try to overcome the bias I have against spiders, alligators, and many snakes. They deserve the same respect as cuter, fuzzier animals. But I can't really say I like them. Aside from that I do like nonhuman animals on both individual and group levels. It helps that they never deliberately try to make my life as miserable as possible for being ugly and different.

    September 17, 2008
  4. hi there!

    Thanks for posting this. It's interesting to me how many people (non-veg people) really like the song. I get quite a few folks coming up to me after a show saying, almost in a whisper, "I really like that 'I hate people' song!" (it's usually translated to 'hate' for some reason!). We're going to make shirts with the saying on it, actually.

    But on the topic of your post, I'd say that since I finished the documentary, I actually like people better than before. By asking people questions, and really listening, an odd sort of fuzzy luke-warm feeling…I'm going to call it compassion…developed. It became quite clear that *most* people want to do the right thing, the 'good' thing, and do not wish to cause suffering. The key is how to reach folks without raising their natural defenses that block out the practices/behaviors that cause suffering. It's no easy task, and many people will not change. But a significant number of people, I have found, are at least open to the idea after watching the documentary, which is kinda cool.

    I'm not going to have kids, though, for many reasons. Though it's fun hanging out with my brother's kids, so it's not an issue of not liking kids.

    As an advocate for animals my focus is mainly on encouraging folks to make changes with each meal and show 'em how easy it is. If we actively (or inactively?!) despise people it's going to be harder to reach 'em, I think. Made a video with non-veg musician seitan enthusiasts called 'saved by seitan':

    Thanks again for the post – interesting topic, and it comes up a lot for sure.

    September 17, 2008
  5. I like some people a TON. I love my friends and family.
    But yeah, most people I struggle with. I have to try to like them or try to find the good in them.
    With nonhumans it's a little easier. We tend to get along better.
    But there are plenty of nonhumans I dislike, too. For example, the goose who bit me at the park. I don't like him so much. He's on the list with the telemarketer.

    September 17, 2008
  6. Bea Elliott #

    present company excluded… "no" 😉

    September 17, 2008
  7. Though I don't dislike people, in general I'm drawn more to nonhumans and they're drawn to me (I just finished writing a book about that!). My friends have said "Mary doesn't like people," but what they mean is that I'm not a social butterfly. I live in a very social town and am involved with some causes that require a certain amount of socializing and I dread it usually. Though I can "work a room" for two hours, I find it enervating. So I guess it's more like large groups that I don't like, as it rarely ends up being a quality experience for me. If I were to name a trait I don't like, it's bigotry. Individuals who hate people because, say, they're Jewish, have earned my dislike. And I realize that's speciesist of me, but if I only liked people who weren't speciesists and who respected nonhumans, I'd have like a dozen people in my life and I'd lose most of my family.

    September 17, 2008
  8. Roger #

    Spike Milligna (the well-known typing error) once said that he could not bear children, but he liked them.


    September 17, 2008
  9. Ron Kearns #

    This is an interesting topic from a linguistics or etymological aspect.

    A biologist colleague/friend once told me that I was somewhat of a misanthrope; to whom I replied, you used the wrong term, Einstein. I informed him that I do not necessarily hate or mistrust humankind and the word *misanthrope* connoted an element of potential criminality or a harmful nature.

    The word I told him he should have used is the somewhat esoteric *exanthrope* which means preferring to live apart from humankind, such as in the country far from civilization—as I do—as opposed to residing in town or suburbia. I first learned of the term while studying ornithology in college in 1970/71. Ornithologists remark that “forest-dwelling raptors, such as the Northern Goshawks, tend to be exanthropic. Some populations of robins may be exanthropic while others appear to prefer the company of man.”

    Antonymous terms connoting association with man are:

    Eusyanthropic: “Living with man. Barn Swallows, Chimney Swifts, phoebes, and other species which often, even preferably, nest in or on homes are eusyanthropic.”

    Synanthropic: “Showing a preference for habitat altered by man, e.g., yards or farmlands. The Killdeer, Mourning Dove, and American Robin, among many other species, exemplify synanthropic behavior in North America.”

    Consider the prefixes that follow:

    Ex- Outside; out of; away from
    Mis- Bad; badly; wrong; wrongly
    Eus(y)- Good; well; true; nice
    Syn- Together; with; united; at the same time

    And the suffix in this specific case:

    -anthrope- man

    Therefore, unless you are a Theodore Kaczynski, Unabomber mathematician type—a real misanthrope—then the term exanthrope is the most appropriate appellation for someone who may be kind, loving, honest, sociable when required, etc., but who prefers to live the bulk of that person’s time apart from mankind. Many intelligent, kindhearted, productive people fall in this category. Some humans are just more introverted; however, such a trait must not convey to others an unjustified agoraphobic or misanthropic characterization.

    I am a father and an acknowledged excellent speaker to large groups, whenever that was required of me. However, I definitely exemplify exanthropic behavior, as do other important sentient animals with which I share an evolutionary kinship.


    September 17, 2008
  10. Bea Elliott #

    Hello all… It's amazing how someone's words and similar perspective can draw one "out". Mary – I'd love to read your book! Congrats on the accomplishment. We are all *proud* of you. "Vegan Makes Good" 🙂 Hooray!

    You mentioned that bigotry is an intolerable flaw in anyone that you have to associate with. I agree. Bigots, racists, or any other dogma based in "prejudgement" doesn't allow any exchange of ideas. They come to the "table" with their hands empty and their minds closed. I don't get along with bigots/racists at all. I never got "it" as a kid either… "You don't like somebody because *^#why%^&??? It just never made "sense" then or now. Bigotry does not exist in a rational mind. (period)

    Elaine, I agree the company of animals is much easier. Simpler and "pure". I'm most relaxed when I'm with my "companions" or watching animals in nature. It's soothing how they belong to their "own moment"… and their own world.

    And how they evaluate us with a much less "critical eye" than "society" does. Their "judgements" are so lenient. They require only that we be a "good person"… That's easy 🙂

    Hi Eleni! Great presentation and message! It's wonderful that you're reaching a segment of people that are open to listening. Getting people to reconsider their ethics concerning animals is what it's all about. You're right, most people "want to do the right thing". You're getting them to make that connection. I applaud you! 🙂

    meerkat "I do not like them as a group" either. I'm least comfortable in crowds… (And close elevators)

    Which speaks to what greentangle said about "population" and the lack of civility. I see it everywhere too. "People..too much of a good thing. 6.7 billion of us makes for a lot of "rudeness" and all shades of "insensitivity".
    Less Humans * More Humanity

    Lydia I know what you mean about people thinking you don't like people if you like animals. It's like there was some kind of "limit" to compassion. Like it was some sacred "resource" only to be metted out in itsy proportions. Kindness should never be "stingy". It's sad when it is.

    I'm not a "butterfly" either… And in the "real" world, there's too few opportunities for "vegan-friendly" interaction. Thanks for letting me share here. 🙂

    September 17, 2008
  11. I've found it interesting how many misanthropic environmentalists and animal activists there are. Perhaps we'd be more effective for our cause if we were less misanthropic; not only does it deter networking, real communication/understanding/trust, but it also makes our community feel unwelcoming and inherently in spite of humans.

    On top of that, what does it mean to hate people when these same people are friends with many people (and socialize with people on blogs)? Is it a matter of self-righteousness, a defense mechanism against a fragile self-esteem, in-group out-group thinking, merely ideological, the bad-ass mentality, etc… It's strange people can feel closer to non-humans–who besides companion animals–want little to do with humans and whom we have very little contact with.

    Perhaps we are among the people we ourselves dislike…

    September 17, 2008
  12. Bea Elliott #

    That's what I am…! an "exanthrop" with "agoraphobic" tendencies. Until 7 years ago I lived on acreage. I worked from home and could go weeks without contact with people. I moved into a neighborhood for the "conveniences" – It was not such a good idea.

    I miss the privacy – the rawness of nature… the quietness. But one thing I do like about city dwelling are the (synanthropic) mockingbirds. I never had them in the country.

    Thanks Ron, for the distinctions… and gosh don't we get an education on Mary's blog!:)

    "Perhaps we are among the people we ourselves dislike…" Since becoming vegan I find I extend much more effort into being personable and warm and friendly. With my new ideology, I have so many more reasons now to be "liked". (I may someday "turn" someone). I know I am a better vegan person than I was an omnivore person… Reinventing and "liking" myself more is an unexpected bonus.

    September 18, 2008
  13. There's also the matter of the misconception that if you're working for the planet or for the animals, you necessarily don't like people. As if they ideas are mutually exclusive . . .

    September 18, 2008
  14. Roger #

    I must admit I have met quite a number of animal advocates who say they hate humanity. However, often they will qualify that, saying they hate what they do. I think, however, that it is fair to say that there are many advocates who have a very low opinion of their fellows. For example, Martin Balluch, much in the news lately because of his hunger strike in Austria, suggests that human beings are 'more social than rational'.

    I am discovering that many animal advocates agree with him. I suspect that the abolitionist approach is the least misanthropic perspective on human-nonhuman relations. Since it is based on education and discourse, the abolitionist approach has a rather positive view of humanity, and sees humans as, hopefully at least, more rational than social.


    September 18, 2008
  15. Dan #

    To answer properly, I would have to write an essay of at least about 5,000 words (to be concise). My opinion on “people” is complex to say the least, some of it positive, some of it neutral, and most of it negative.

    September 18, 2008
  16. Bea Elliott #

    Dan, it is a complex question alright. And leads to another… If we can say in certain respects, that we dislike "people", or "crowds" or "strangers"… why are we made to feel so guilty about it? It's like the guilt many of us are made to feel in the choice of not having children. That's not considered very "social" either. I was born an introvert. From my earliest memories I enjoyed my aloneness and my privacy. I think it unerves some that one's own company might actually be "enough". (?)

    September 18, 2008

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