This seems like an obvious thing to say, but I believe it has profound implications. None of these things are abstractions, all of them have names and are real living things. All real living things deserve respect and deserve to be treated as living things that matter. A consequence of the society we have developed, especially with the advent of television and the internet, is that we are no longer feel truly connected with everything and everyone that we experience.
People (like actors or actresses or porn stars or random people that we only interact with on the internet or people being talked about on the news) have become ideas of people rather than actual living human beings with feelings and loved ones. We can go online and talk about how awful a certain celebrity is; we can say terrible things to a person on social media or an internet forum; we can forget that all of these people on the other end of the screen have feelings and are real people. When we do all these things, however, we disconnect ourselves from the absolutely real consequences that our actions have. These are not just internet actions, those are not just internet people, and they result in real consequences.
Because we have built our cities, homes, and lives in a way to “protect” us from the rest of the living world, we have also built a disconnect between ourselves and every other living thing that inhabits planet earth. We look out the window and see a bird and (for so many of us) have no care to know what the true name of that bird is, its a bird and that is all that matters. The same is true of trees and amphibians and reptiles and everything else. We do not care to know their actual names, we disconnect ourselves from the idea of them being living things, and we ultimately do not care what becomes of them. Nature is something that is over there, we are here, our needs are met so everything is fine.
I have heard many people say how great it is that our world is becoming so connected, but I truly believe that we becoming more disconnected. We are giving up the connections we have in our physical daily lives (our connections to the people we can reach out and touch and our connections to rest of the living world that is existing right next us) for perceived connections to people and things that we, ultimately, only conceive of as existing in the media or on the internet. This results in us doing and saying things on the internet that could have real consequences to real living people, ourselves, or the people in our lives that truly matter and these are consequences that we do not see at the time or potentially ever really feel. You cannot do something online that would hurt someone in real life and not have it hurt them, even if they never know about it still hurts them (probably more so).
My request of anyone who reads this is as follows: Never sacrifice the connections you have all around you for the perceived connections that our society advertises on television and online, because you know that they are not real. Do not ignore the person sitting next to you or the Blue Jay out your window so that you can text or express outrage on Facebook that Miley Cyrus showed some skin. Foster the connections you have, learn the names of trees/birds/frogs/ect, genuinely try to learn something new about someone you have met. These real connections are far more rewarding. The internet is an incredible tool for sharing knowledge and posting funny pictures, but the connectedness it advertises is not real. You are real. Your friends and loved ones are real. Shagbark Hickory trees are real. The fact that these things are real living things gives them the inherit right to be respected, loved, and connected with by those around them.