Unfortunately just about all of us are capable of conceiving of people as just functions rather than human beings.
I think this realization was first brought to the fore back in the 1950’s and 60’s when Gabriel Marcel coined the phrase the spirit of abstraction in his essay “The Spirit of Abstraction as a Factor Making for War.”
But it isn’t just about war.
Parents can be cruel to their children. Children can return the favor. Then they might treat other children unfairly and so on.
Entire societies can be guilty of the spirit of abstraction too. Just look at the United States’ history with slavery, Germany’s Holocaust or Australia’s treatment of the Aboriginal people.
Don’t be guilty too!
The next time you’re about to ‘hit the button’ sending out hundreds or thousands of emails or direct mailers, I beg you to consider whether or not you’ve fallen prey to the spirit of abstraction. Think of your audience as supporters, not targets.
Put pictures of them around your office. Seriously!
Then consider how they’ll feel when they get your communications. Will they be happy? Will they gain value? Will they be so overjoyed they’ll want to share them?
If not, reconsider. Back-up! Start over. Rewrite your copy and redesign your message.
Be fair. Don’t treat your supporters like targets or they’ll treat you like you don’t exist.
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