Comment nos animaux de compagnie ont évolué pour nous manipuler émotionnellementoctobre 13, 2019
As someone who has been called the Master of Modern Horror by Fake Quote magazine, people often ask me, « What keeps you up at night? Aside from anxiety-based insomnia and your alarmingly small bladder? What scares you? » That’s easy: It’s the possibility that we’re just fooling ourselves into thinking that the things we love actually love us back. For example, dogs.
It’s easier to love a dog than it is to love a spider or a cactus because dogs have adorable facial expressions. The nonverbal pleas for food and love, the dopey smiles, the heartbreaking, almost teary disappointment — it’s all there. But the reason they can make those expressions is that, after evolution split dogs from wolves to begin their partnership with humans, they evolved facial muscles to make « expressions » that humans would respond to. They grew little eyebrows.
So I often wonder: What if it’s all just a strategy? What if, having magically transported your soul into your dog’s body, you’d find it has no concept of anything we’d call love? What if they think all of our fawning attention is kind of just weird? What if when their little paws twitch while they’re dreaming, they’re actually dreaming of kicking us in the groin, over and over?
« But cats don’t have those expressions, and we love them just the same! » you may object. « If anything, cats look like they hate our guts! » Sure, but they just found another way to rope us in. Did you know that cats don’t meow to each other? It’s a sound they’ve developed specifically for humans, to get us to feed them. Even creepier, it may be specifically calculated to mimic a crying human baby. If anything, they think it’s hilarious that we keep falling for it.
This would, of course, mean that it’s entirely possible to pour all of your love into something that is in fact coldly sending back just enough validation signals to keep you doling out the food and shelter. It would open the possibility that the kind of sweeping gooey sentimentality we think of as the Most Important Thing In Life will be seen by future societies as a weird, backward superstition. « These sick bastards went so far off the rails that they literally defied their most basic biological imperative and adopted pets instead of having children. »