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Socially Unacceptable Social Media

If I look at one more picture of a dinner plate on my Facebook pages, my next status update will be from jail for assault.

Social media is simply out of control.  I wish it was as mundane as posting dinner pictures, but people are getting a little too comfortable sharing their most personal, intimate thoughts on their Facebook pages. These pictures of their innocent children on the first day of school, their vacation plans, or their real feelings about neighbors, religion or politics seem harmless on the surface, but consider this.

The average Facebook user has 338 friends. Okay, don’t ask me how I figured that out. It’s a terribly complex and difficult formula that I came up with all on my own. Out of those friends, only a handful are people these users actually know; family, coworkers, and real life friends account for an astonishingly small percentage of those 338 people.  That leaves an alarming number of people they really do not know on a personal level that subscribe to their page.  Friends of friends, people who pop up because of a shared interest or mutually “liked” page or TV show, and downright strangers make up the rest of the 338 people.

Many studies have been conducted regarding the various Facebook or Twitter users who feel it is necessary to inform everyone of every action they take throughout the day.  “Going to the bathroom, brb.”  “Taking out the trash.”  “Just woke up.”  “Going to the gym. Again.” And the selfies…good God, the selfies.  These are people who try to validate themselves through social media.  No one gives a damn about your carefully orchestrated duck face as you post that must-see picture of you holding your teacup poodle…all carefully filtered of course.

Yet, the people who make these posts really do think people care.  As if people are waiting with bated breath to see what they might post next. They randomly friend people who comment on someone else’s posts, and just as routinely unfriend people who don’t like that adorable selfie they took by the beach.  To be unfriended by someone is apparently devastating to the extreme, and they will take to their media of choice to cry about being unfriended.  In fact, in one astonishing case, being unfriended was a reason to commit murder. I mean, WTF?

Want to bet they duck faced for the mug shot?

This is all pretty frightening, but it hardly even scratches the surface of the social media lunacy.

People, mostly females for some reason, become so obsessed with actors that they post their reaction to every move the guy might make.  I’m not entirely sure what they hope to accomplish with this; perhaps it gives them a cachet and makes them feel important. Maybe they think this ultra-rich, ultra-handsome, ultra-everything will notice their post or tweet or whatever and simply appear from his island getaway to sweep her off her feet.

This was brought home to me a couple of days ago when I was watching an excerpt of a British talk show featuring host Graham Norton reading Facebook posts from women talking about their lust for actor Benedict Cumberbatch (Kahn in Star Trek: Into Darkness, Sherlock, Doctor Strange.) Poor Cumberbatch’s acting skills were really put to the test as he sat there and pretended that he was amused and not revolted or uncomfortable at all to hear someone say, “Just bury me in a Y-shaped coffin,” or “I can get pregnant just looking at him.” “I look at him and my ovaries explode.” Those were the “decent” ones. I could go on, but my mother reads this blog, and I try to save the ensuing lectures over my…ahem…colorful language…for rants I’m truly passionate about.

Oh, and just so you know, we have recently found out what makes women pregnant, and let me be the first to reassure frightened women everywhere that eyeing up Sherlock’s junk does not in fact contribute to pregnancy. Whew!  I know, right?  That was a close one. And by the way, get a grip. It’s one thing to have your private fantasies about an actor whom you like – there’s nothing new in that. We all do it. But to look at him solely as a sex object? Yeah, I suppose you could say it’s tit for tat as men have been looking at and objectifying women’s bodies since forever; long before the advent of social media. But still. Do two wrongs ever make a right? And to blast it out lewdly for all the world to hear see? That’s a little much if you ask me.

What’s the common phrase men write on message boards? “I’d do her,” referring to some actress whom they might not like in a role, but who looks so good that they’d “do” her anyway. I hate to burst that bubble, boys, but chances are the actress in question would never give any one of you the time of day. They’re on a whole other level from “normal” people. I’m also willing to bet my next Facebook picture of a baked potato that if 90% of the guys who say “I’d do her” on these message boards ever actually met the actress in question, they wouldn’t be able to muster up the nerve to say word-one to her…at least not coherently.

So, although I was somewhat revolted by this…psycho-gushing is the nicest term I can call it… it got me thinking about people who post things on social media of this nature. Do they expect the actors they’re talking about to read these posts? Do they secretly hope they will? Do they think the actor in question will actually want to meet them after reading this stuff? “Oh my goodness, did you read that!?  I just have to meet that revolting amazing person ASAP!”

These actors are real people, for goodness sake. They’re not just characters on a screen or a photo op in a magazine. They. Are. Real. People.  It is actually possible for them to read these Facebook and Twitter posts and what’s equally disturbing, so can their families.  These real people have wives, children, mothers, and fathers. People on the actor’s staff have to read this garbage, too; someone from Graham Norton’s staff obviously monitors the web very closely to find anything written about the actors he’s about to interview, for one.

Now as regular readers of my blog know, I’m a serious Marvel movie and TV fan. I like to think that if I ever met any of the actors who star in these creations (I’m looking at you Loki Tom Hiddleston), I’d act like a mature individual, say, “Hi, I enjoy your work,” and let them get on with their lives without 1.) thinking that they’d be so taken with me (one fan out of a thousand to greet them on any given day) that they’d even remember me 5 minutes later, or 2.) be that lewd, babbling stalker they do remember and recount as a “you’ve got to hear this one!” story on Graham Norton. That is if I’d be able to talk at all instead of just stare. But “Here, sign my boob!” I would never utter. At least not sober. It’s enough that I can enjoy their characters on the big screen, and know in real life they are totally different with lives of their own.

Long story short, Facebook posters and social media users everywhere, get a freakin’ grip.  Now, excuse me while I go post this incredible picture I just took of my lunch.

So You Got a Dog

Okay, so you guys have had a free pass from my rants for far too long. Brace yourselves. What brings this one on, you ask?  Well, long story short – dogs.

I saw an ad for a dog someone is trying to rehome for $100. The dog has been with the family for a little over a year. Supposedly he came to them neglected and abused and they had wanted to provide him a forever home. But, BUT, now he’s just too much. Too active for their busy schedules. You know how things go. Oh, he’s a great dog.  Doesn’t mess in the house, doesn’t need to be crated any more, excellent with kids, presumably up to date on his shots, etc. Great dog. Simply a great dog. It’s just he no longer fits into the scheme of things for their family. You know how things go. Shit happens.

So after writing this wonderful ad for him online and posting it on several different boards along with the requisite adorable (and he is adorable) photos and receiving numerous comments of “Oh he’s wonderful…” and “I’d like to have him, but…” and “Check out this rescue if you can’t find a home…” and “I’d like to visit him…” and “I would love to have him…” and the like, the owner responds somewhere in-between: “He’s such a sweetheart. I don’t know. Going back and forth on whether or not to just keep him. I can always just get rid of him later if it still doesn’t work out.” With a cute little smiley face emoticon and everything. Seriously, what the hell?

Either you want the dog or not. I mean for God’s sake. Is he a family member or not? Is he too much? Or is he great? Does he fit into your schedule or can you make time?  Yes, yes, it’s a big decision, I know, I know. But for fuck’s sake, MAKE IT. Make the decision instead of leaving this dog’s life in limbo, because sure as anything if you decide he’s great now you’ll keep him, and next week he’ll suddenly be “too much” again, and here we go, back up on the online local town boards.

And this, folks, these people who can’t figure out that an animal is a sentient being, a pet that should be a family member, this is what drove me to advocacy. Sure, the dog’s not being abused, but how much do you want to bet she does a home check on the next new family?  I wouldn’t take that bet.  So who knows where he’ll end up?

Things change and life happens and sometimes you have to rehome a pet. I try not to judge. But what I AM judging is the flippant attitude of “do I want him or don’t I?”  I mean, she might as well flip a coin at the rate she’s going. At least then the dog would have a chance.

Trolls, Sadists, and The Olympics – Oh My

The Olympics have drawn to a close and it seems as though it was filled with just as much scandal as it was exciting competition. Sadly, it was not without heartbreak or injury either.

If any of you have been following the games, you may have heard about the injury suffered by French Olympian, Samir Ait Said. In the midst of his vault routine landing, Said suffered a broken leg. Not his first. But still devastating and horrific. First, let me say my heart immediately went out to him as images of Joe Thiesmann flashed in my head. And I’m glad to say Said seems to be recovering well, as well as one can after such a terrible event.

But all of that is beside the point, how did I discover this piece of news? Luckily I didn’t witness it like I did Theismann’s injury – that one is still rattling around in my head I’m very sorry to report. No, it was a normal day pretty much like any other day and as I so often do, I was browsing my Facebook newsfeed when lo and behold a news article popped up detailing Said’s botched landing, his subsequent insult to injury when the paramedics dropped him while he was strapped onto a gurney, and an update on his recovery (as much as was known then).  Believe it or not, the story of this awful incident was not the most disturbing thing about the Facebook post in question. Not by a long shot.

You see, apparently the media outlet posting this article had decided to show some respect (gasp!  I know, right!?) to both the athlete and presumably its audience and opted NOT to show the stomach-churning video of the gruesome injury. In fact, from what I understand, numerous news sites and even the Olympic committee had removed various versions of the video due to its grisly nature, not to mention, once again, respect.  And frankly, what purpose does it serve to air such a thing?  But I’m jumping ahead of myself.

As I mentioned, the news story was not the worst thing about this Facebook post and that’s saying something. No. The worst thing was the slew of comments from the bloodthirsty…well, let’s see…trolls? No, that’s not right. Sadists? Horror-mongers? I could come up with some better names, but my mother reads this blog. I digress. Back to the comments.

The story alone was quite detailed and the author talented enough to paint a word picture for his audience — a word picture that was more than adequate to conjure a mind’s eye view of what occurred to this poor gymnast.

And yet. There it began. The vocal outcry of the offended masses culled from the cream of our society. “Where’s the video!?” asked one. “Why’d you guys take it down?” whined another. “Someone needs to re-post on YouTube or something, man!” decried one technologically clever soul. “Really, you’re not going to show it!?” demanded one particularly impatient individual.  As you might imagine the comments and discussion only went downhill from there.

The conversation kind of devolved into the equivalent of an incessantly whining toddler throwing an ever-growing tantrum because you turned off his beloved Teletubbies. Yet it wasn’t their whining or incredibly childish gore-filled demand for the video that bothered me, although that was bad enough, it was the “why” behind their communal outrage.

In fact, I dare you to look around on YouTube at what some of these like-minded…people…are watching these days. Live fights between young pregnant women, people getting hit by cars, animals being tortured, and a number of less than “innocent” sadistic pranks. Oh, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

It continues to beg the question, what the hell is wrong with our society? Why are we obsessed with violence and inundated with the demand to see other living, breathing beings suffer? Is it funny for some people, or is it just some sick urge even they don’t understand? Either way I really do worry for the future sometimes. We seem to be barreling towards the extreme southern district of the afterlife a lot faster than originally forecast with no hand-basket in sight.

Complimentary Insults

Are you familiar with “blocking” on Facebook? It’s a special filter you can set up on your profile that can, as Facebook works it, “prevent them [certain people you choose] from seeing things you post on your profile, starting conversations with you or adding you as a friend.” Normally, blocking happens when someone gets super pissed off at someone else. It’s a pretty severe move.

I can count on two fingers just how many times I’ve been blocked on Facebook, which I do like to pat myself on the back for just a little. It means I’m “playing nice” for the most part, or at least not angering others enough that they starting trying to do social media’s version of Eternal Sunshine. Overall, it’s an indicator that you like me, you really, really like me…sorry, channeling a little Sally Field there a minute. At any rate, just so you know, I can play well with others (gasp! It’s a shock, I know.) and generally endeavor to do just that.

I found out that blocking isn’t necessarily a bad thing either, though. The first person who ever blocked me was a now ex-in-law who was really better off blocked anyway. That particular instance of childlike behavior (and not on my part) made for a very welcome respite in my life that I have enjoyed ever since.

But recently, I got blocked a second time and this one isn’t going down so smoothly. Oh, I won’t dwell on it for long and the so-called punishment is not likely to change my behavior. However, it did have me shaking my head.

The person who blocked me is someone I thought I knew well – as well as you can know someone you’re only friends with online (and yes, online friends are still friends). We were more than just casual acquaintances even if our conversations were limited to text and emails. In fact, I had supported her through numerous “life is crazier than fiction” issues over the past two years.  I was there for her through a neighborhood bullying problem that got so bad she had to move out of the home she had just moved into only a few months before. I gave her a shoulder to lean on when her pets died. More importantly I stayed true to her when she was blindsided with a completely unexpected divorce.

After being there for her through all that—personal turmoil, death, the disintegration of a marriage—this person blocked me on Facebook. Do you want to know why? The reason she blocked me was over…wait for it…rehoming fees for pets.

You heard me right. Rehoming fees. I’m not using slang that you’ve never heard of. I’m talking about rehoming fees as in “an amount asked for by a pet owner or rescuer when they are adopting or readopting a pet to a home.”

Before going any further, let me say that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, it’s what makes the world go round. But, is it too much to ask that opinions are formed after doing a decent amount of research and communicating with experts who have been in rescue or in the field doing investigations? I’m sorry but if you’re not going to put in the effort to understand why you have a certain stance, if you’re basing your opinion on nothing more than air, you put animals at risk and that frankly, is unacceptable. I’m sure you can see where this is going. Well, you would be wrong.

You might think that because I am a) pretty passionate about animal welfare and b) able to be a teensy bit hot-headed when I’m on a good rant, that I was rude or sarcastic when arguing my case to this former friend. Fair enough. But you’ll be happy to know that that wasn’t the case in this instance.

I coolly and calmly provided my friend with verified information, links, research, and encouraged the person to write her paper — which was her intent for this whole mess — on the truth, rather than simply stick to her baseless opinion out of stubbornness. I won’t even get into the fact that she started claiming industry experts were of the same opinion as her (not saying I’m always right, but…) which was purely and simply a falsehood.  I gave her a good out, but she didn’t take it. Instead, she labeled me an “activist” of the wood boring variety (because I came out of the woodwork just to argue – ha!)  and summarily blocked me, giving me no chance to respond to her ridiculous claims. Isn’t that always the way?

And you know what, I’m okay with that. Oh, I’m not an activist.  But I don’t necessarily consider it the horrendous and belittling insult she meant it as either.  What I am is an advocate.  Hell, I’m proud to be an advocate. Her attitude towards me doesn’t change the truth or skew any of the concrete facts. She can keep her faulty beliefs and maybe one day she’ll be unable to avoid the fact that she’s telling a lie. God help the animals who get hurt in the process though.

And seriously, in hindsight, maybe this whole “being nice” thing is just too damn overrated.

 

common sense

Killing…in the name of what!?

I have a question for you, so I’ll just toss it out there: Is the act of killing ever justified?  I’m not just talking about killing people, but killing anything. Is trapping something, using it for your own needs, and explicitly erasing its existence after it has served its purpose, a justifiable act? Is that ever okay? I’m sure that most of you, and hopefully ALL of you, are shaking your heads. Perhaps you are even thinking: No, killing is never, an acceptable resolution.

Apparently, not everyone thinks this way. Meet Christopher Filardi. He does not agree with you. In fact, not only does he believe that killing is a-okay and completely justifiable in the right circumstances, he’ll go one even further and kill an endangered species if the poor creature should be unfortunate enough to cross his path.

I know what you’re thinking: Damned hunters. However, Filardi’s not a hunter with an unquenchable bloodlust. Instead, he’s actually the Director to Pacific Programs at the American Museum of Natural History. Yes, now here is the part where you scratch your head and wonder how a man, who should be protecting scientific breakthroughs, is instead killing them. Filardi is a scientist, and his most recent contribution to the planet was capturing an amazingly rare bird, taking samples of it, and then euthanizing it!

If you’re getting a bit hot under the collar, or you’re starting to curl your hands into fists, and your teeth are starting to grind as you think of his callous dispatching of a bird that had never even been photographed before this moment, then maybe his side of the story will soothe you (spoiler alert: it probably won’t).  I’m not the only one that has been upset about this turn of events, and I don’t mean just the public either. Filardi’s actions have apparently divided the scientific community as well.

According to Mr. Malarkey—I mean, Mr. Filardi—there are somewhere around 4,000 of these birds on the island they’re confined to. This rock solid number must be based on actual evidence, like sightings, droppings, shed feathers, individual song counts, and stuff like that, right? Nope. He’s pulling that number right out of his you know what, based on how many of these birds he thinks the habitat can sustain.

That’s like looking at an apartment building and guessing how many people are inside, assuming that every unit is occupied. But as we know in the real world, there are some buildings that are nearly empty. There are some buildings that are well past capacity. The point is, what an area can hold is by no means an indication of what is actually inside.

Not to mention, after spending 20 some years looking for one of these birds, you’d think if there were 4,000 of these little buggers flying around on an isolated island, he’d have run across a few long before now, right?

Well, to be clear, from his own follow-up article (which reeks of “methinks thou doth protest too much”) where he tries to explain why he killed the rare bird, here’s how he came up with that lofty figure…apparently during his expedition on the island, he “estimate[ed] three pairs and possible offspring” in the research area by how many calls the team heard. At one point, they “detected” three of these birds in a glen…presumably by their calls, since he would have said “observed” or “caught sight of” or something similar if they had been seen.

So. After searching the whole island, he didn’t manage to actually see any birds, but instead heard maybe a total of six.  And this is of course assuming his team could differentiate the varying calls (I bring this up, not to question their credentials, but rather because the bird’s calls are not well-known, so mistakes could easily be made I would think).  In fact, with the captured bird, Filardi made the first ever recording of a male Guadalcanal Moustached Kingfisher’s call.

Okay, so…from the 6 birds (detected from calls, not sight), Filardi then calculated a population of 4,000 birds based on his own assumptions regarding the total suitable habitat. I don’t know about you, but in my opinion, this is not especially strong evidence on which to justify the killing of one of perhaps only six birds actually observed to exist.

He also takes the word of the locals on the island and attempts to use it as scientific evidence. The locals have told him that they’re “unremarkably common” to see. However, these people are not expert ornithologists. There have been plenty of times when I thought I saw a fox sparrow and it turned out to be a lark sparrow, or thought I saw a yellow-bellied sapsucker and instead it was a red-bellied woodpecker. All I’m saying is that sometimes our eyes deceive us. Passing along an execution sentence based on unreliable eyewitness accounts does not fly inside the court of law, so why should it fly outside? And…AND…we run into the same problem as before…if the birds are so “unremarkably common,” why has it taken 20 some odd years for Filardi or any scientist to capture one?

Official records (you know, using actual data and such) state that there are only 250–1,000 of these birds in existence. I guess that should be adjusted to 249–999.

Well, Mr. Filardi, congratulations! Go you! You got your “unicorn” (the word he himself used to describe the bird he killed). Let’s just hope you don’t run into an actual unicorn or I’m sure its enchanted horn will be sawed off and sitting in a drawer in your museum’s basement not long after the two of you meet.

 

Illustration: J G Keulemans (1842 - 1912), Novitates Zoologicae

Illustration by:   J G Keulemans  (1842 – 1912);  Novitates Zoologicae

 

 

Party Favors

It’s not odd to see a piñata at a kid’s birthday party, right? I know, they’re all the rage. Well how about inviting over all the kids from the neighborhood so they can witness a death?  No? Well, apparently it’s a thing in certain circles.  I read a story about a doting father who put out food to bait a couple of brown bears just so his son could kill something prior to celebrating his 9th birthday with cake and presents. I mean it’s just not a party until the birthday boy kills something. In front of all of his young party-goers no less. Yay! Now it’s a party! Better than a lame old magician any day.  Hell, the birthday boy just made a bear disappear his own self. Happy birthday kid!

Wonder what was in the goody bags?

 

Ahhh...those were the days

Ahhh…those were the days

Under Lock and Key

I just learned there is an app called KeyMe that can make copies of keys using a photograph. The blogger who wrote this article took a photograph of his neighbor’s key in their apartment complex stairwell, had a copy made via the handy dandy KeyMe app, and then later broke into said neighbor’s apartment in a “hey, let’s prove how easy this is” maneuver with the self-made key. Luckily the neighbor was a friend or at least must be, given the blogger wasn’t arrested or shot. And I’m assuming they still are friends after this little exercise in security…or lack thereof.

I must give my heartfelt thanks to Andy Greenberg for bringing this out in the open. I only wish this issue was getting more notice than it is. Although maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m the one who has had blinders on. I won’t go into all the details of what the hell would possess a company to create an app like this…Mr. Greenberg does that quite well in his own writing.

What I will bring up, because it’s not mentioned anywhere in the article, is the very important fact that not only is this scary to everyone with regards to being robbed, but for women, it’s frightening on a whole other level in that we now have to worry about keeping our keys under lock and key so as to prevent some creeper who may be suffering a hurt ego, after having his advances rejected, from coming back to our house at a later date and exacting his revenge.

Although credit cards, names, and the like are clearly exchanged in order to get the key made, as mentioned in the article, who would even begin to think that an app like this even exists to KNOW to check with them to find out if that’s how the perpetrator gained access??  I mean, really!? Were any of you aware of such a horribly thought out app?  Or was I the only one in the dark here?