In philosophy and literature, a “misanthrope” is described as a person who is very cynical of humankind and society, and tends to be a loner. He or she is often considered rude and doesn’t receive many invitations to parties and the like. (Not that they’d actually show up to the parties, anyway…)
On stage and in written fiction, misanthropes are often portrayed as an Ebenezer Scrooge type (or think Edmund Blackadder in the BBC series, for fellow Anglophiles). They’re frequently the punchline, the joke being that there must be something inherently wrong with them for them to develop such pessimistic views.
Well, guess what? Some of us identify more with the Blackadders of the world than the Lizzie Bennets or Anne Shirleys.
I’m not exactly a misanthrope. I still have hope for humanity. Personally, though, I prefer not to be around too many of them at once. I love my family — just sometimes I wish they’d be more quiet (okay, a lot of the time). My favorite way to pass the day involves more books than other breathing humans in the vicinity.
Does this mean I actually hate my own species? No! I love the writers, musicians, artists, dancers, librarians, and cat owners. Am I picky about who I choose to be around? Yes. Is there anything wrong with that? I really don’t think so.
When I look at photographs of amazing architecture, fireworks, Christmas lights (or happen to see any of this in person), I am so awed at what beauty mankind can create. Humans have invented some of my favorite things — tea, air conditioning, fluffy slippers, to-your-door-delivery of bookmail, jewelry, wine.
Which is why it also boggles my mind that they’ve come up with so many things I just can’t understand the point of — sports, climbing mountains for fun, shark diving, bungee jumping, reality TV, filing your own income taxes.
Part of the reason I love reading is because I can often find a book where the characters get what they deserve (good or bad), behave according to a minority point of view (that I relate to much more than a majority perspective), and are actually nice to other people who are “different” or “unpopular.”
My real problem is not with humanity itself. It’s with the ones who are in charge of deciding what’s “in” and what’s “out” — and the ones who strive to follow this to “fit in” at any cost.
There are some very good reasons that I’m a little cynical, a little pessimistic, and a little concerned about civilization as a whole.
It’s why I’d usually rather spend much of my life around fictional people and my cat.
Who’s with me on this?
No offense meant to real (nice) humans.