What is the relation between collective behavior and self-interest and, related to this question, how may we redefine the organism-environment relationship? What can happen when species meet on a petri dish or in an imaginary environment through wondrous artefacts? Our search for empathic, sensory, careful and ethical encounters with the microcosm may very well contribute to figuring future meetings with microbes that respect experiences of difference, strangeness and otherness as a crucial moment in coming to know ourselves.