Monthly Archives: March 2012

Beware of Chimps That Drive: Tales from the Monkeysphere

The other day I decided that in the interest of my overall health and emotional well-being I should undertake a 90 minute walk. I am used to the lovely oceanic vistas provided by the municipality of Oak Bay but having recently moved to Central Saanich I felt it was about time I take in the rustic ambiance of this delightful rural district.

I walked a fair distance basically from about where the local “Thrifty’s” grocery store is located to the Panorama Recreation Centre and back again (a distance of about 5k). Things had progressed comfortably enough and I built up a light sweat as I pushed my pace.

However, about half-way home on the return trek I ran afoul of a local motorist.  He was turning left across my intended path but was hindered in his efforts  by the flow of traffic moving  from the opposite direction. The traffic had cleared and he would have been able to make the turn but for my unfortunate presence.

Suddenly, despite the fact I was halfway across the street he decided to make his move. To my shock and immediate discomfort he abruptly jerked the wheel and accelerated the red pick-up, slamming on his brakes with his bumper  mere inches from my leg! The lady in the car behind him stared open mouthed as I raised my arms in the universally understood sign for WTF!? For his part my would-be assailant merely glared at me and drove off.

I was angered and part of me wanted to retaliate with a shout or maybe a rude gesture but I maintained my ladylike composure and sought refuge in the thought that this was all due to a violation of the poor misanthropic primate’s “Monkeysphere”. At that unfortunate moment when I inhibited the frustrated pick-up driver’s effort to make a left-hand turn I had ceased to become a person to him but in fact had simply become “that annoying thing that won’t let me turn!

How else could one rationalize his behavior? Would he think twice about running his truck towards his mother? His sweetheart? His daughter? He would never dream of doing such a thing. But because I exist outside his Monkeysphere he had no compunction about simulating Death Race 2012 on my ass.

I take no credit for the Monkeysphere and learned of its existence only recently courtesy of David Wong (nom de plume of Jason Pargin, Senior Editor of Cracked.com).  In short, its a term borrowed from Anthopologists; notably Robin Dunbar who saw a correlation between the size of a primate’s neocortex and its social group. For us human types, the number is around 150 people. Anyone outside that number exists outside one’s “Monkeysphere” and is in essence dehumanized, reified and relegated to the status of concept or thing.

Wong’s article is must reading and I’ve dropped “Monkeysphere” consciousness into my philosopher’s bag in order to further understand the nature of the world I live in.

You can find the article in question here: http://www.cracked.com/article_14990_what-monkeysphere.html.

So the next time some stranger accosts you or is rude or otherwise treats you as something less than human rest easy in the knowledge that you simply exist outside the poor primate’s “Monkeysphere”

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