Social Media Mayhem
NOTE: This is a long post, so grab a cup of tea or a martini and get comfy. Also, this post includes one or more graphic images. So read at your own risk.
A few days ago, our lovely Petunia passed away naturally and peacefully of old age. She had been living on a heating pad most days for the past year since she couldn’t regulate her body temperature well. She also had pretty bad arthritis. She couldn’t get in and out of a pool on her own, and she needed extra protection from most of the flock. Right up until her last two days though, she was chipper and active. Though we were sorry to see her go, she had a long life, well lived. So we can’t complain.
When I shared news about her death online, some people seemed shocked. This surprised me, as she was pretty much touch and go for the entire last year of her life. So I thought I’d better share a post about the next two rescues that I guessed might be most likely to have issues in the future, just so no one would be surprised if they passed on.
I shared this post about Teddy and Demetra. Both of them are pretty severely handicapped. In the post I noted that if, in the future, they became distressed and their distress outweighed the joy they had, it would be time to say goodbye. I talked a little bit about quality of life, blah blah blah and that was it.
One lady, whose profile said she was from Romania, saw the post and asked me to please consider giving sweet Teddy a lower food dish because his dish was obviously too high for him and it was important to care for him properly. I responded to her, noting that if you look closely, you can actually see a lower food dish to the very left of the photo. Teddy likes the higher food dish, but he can choose between a lower one and a higher one. She wrote back saying she can’t see well because she’s 60% blind and was just trying to help.
These are my least favorite kinds of comments: The people who view 1/30th of a second in the life of one of our rescues and decide that they alone are the sole champion and defender of what’s best for our bird. They are the magical savior who has seen 1/30th of a second out of the 84,000 seconds in a day, and they know what’s best! I MUST LISTEN TO THEM! THEY ARE ALL KNOWING! And then they start arguing and advocating for the rescue strongly. The idea that someone online, who has never met my rescues, is not an avian-certified veterinarian and who is looking at a photo I took, which represents 1/30th of a second of time… the idea that they know best is absurd. It’s actually offensive to me. And yet I am expected to respond respectfully and explain myself, explain every detail of my care of the rescue, often rehash that rescue’s entire history, until they are satisfied that I have provided appropriate care. Because they saw a photo. And they have some unsolicited advice for me.
Meanwhile, another lady on Instagram mis-read or misinterpreted the post about Teddy and Demetra, and made a bunch of assumptions that I was going to kill Demetra immediately. She posted 4 comments on the Instagram version of my post, including one that said “I have half a mind to drive cross-country and take Demetra.”
I had started answering her other comments and then I came across that one. I felt threatened by it and decided to just block her completely. She seemed unhinged. Her comments were way out of the norm and not a single other person responded to my Teddy and Demetra post in that way. Not one.
After she was blocked, she ratcheted up the crazy even more by posting this note on some closed Facebook chicken groups.
UHHHGGG! I didn’t know she had posted that note. I just started receiving odd comments on my posts. The first one I saw was one that said something like “Why don’t you give Demetra to someone who lives in a house?” I think my response was “What the f*ck do you think I live in? A shoe?”
I got a few other posts from people begging me to give Demetra to them. Or to turn her over to someone who wouldn’t kill her. This was so confusing to me in the middle of the rest of my busy day, because I had never said I would kill Demetra, and anyone who knows me knows I would never do that. I WOULD, however, humanely euthanize a bird when their level of distress outweighs their joy in life, which is what my post stated. I don’t ever make this decision lightly, in fact I’ve done more research on the topic than most people, and wrote a blog post about it which you can find here: http://ducksandclucks.com/blog/2015/07/26/euthanasia-guidelines-for-handicapped-ducks-and-quality-of-life-issues/
Any time I have ever euthanized a bird, it has been under the care of an experienced avian veterinarian. Sometimes when a severely-handicapped bird seems in decline, I take them to the vet for a quality of life evaluation, and we determine a few options to try before ever deciding to euthanize. Medications, slings, special bedding, supplements, daily physical therapy… there are a lot of options to try. The idea that I would kill Demetra because she needed some simple enrichment in her day is so stupid it’s insulting. No sh*t, ding dongs. Demetra has a lot of enrichment. I’m always trying new things with her. Lately we go for a walk around the block together. She loves looking at all the birds and we talk about the pink flamingos and plastic duck lawn ornaments we see along the way. I’ve been doing this bird rescue thing for over 13-years now. Domestic ducks, chickens, turkeys, wild mallards, pigeons… and I was a baby-bird nursery caretaker before that with a wildlife rehabilitation facility. Just because the ONE post you read didn’t completely answer your every question, doesn’t mean you can assume the worst.
It also doesn’t mean that I OWE YOU any explanation, for anything I do.
But this lady posted her false garbage on the chicken groups and all the sheeple started commenting.
This one comment really pissed me off. “She doesn’t have any chicken friends either.” That asshole knows I just had to euthanize Laverne on Monday for a sinus tumor. Thanks so much for the compassion, fellow human being.
Here are a few more of the sheeple, commenting with no first-hand knowledge, on something they know nothing about.
There are more comments just like those, but who cares, honestly? I would like to highlight this one lady though. The only one on the string of comments I could find who didn’t automatically assume I’m a Demetra-killing illiterate, inexperienced monster. Maybe the rest of the sheeple above could learn something from her. She asked questions. She wondered if she had all the information. What a concept!
Wherever you are, Lindsay. Thanks.
In the end, the blocked unhinged lady apologized, starting with “I really hate rude rescues!” Now I’m no poet, but in the future, I’d suggest you start an apology with “I am sorry.” My response was something like “Go fuck yourselves, all of you.” Her friends started harassing me, calling me a “butt-hurt snowflake” if I remember correctly. I told that guy to die in a fire. And she kept pushing her lying narrative that Demetra is somehow in imminent danger of being murdered by me, deciding that I am a sad person and she feels sorry for me.
So… that ended well.
Here’s what many people don’t know. I block an average of 3-5 people a day. The first thing I do when I wake up is almost always block someone. This is what one apparent human being sent me recently in a direct Instagram message, along with a note that said “for every duck you rescue, I kill two.”
That was the first thing I saw when I woke up. Not every day is that bad, but after I was sent that note, I hated to check those Instagram direct messages from strangers.
When I have direct Instagram messages from strangers, I don’t get any notifications. So every once in awhile I check it, just to see what’s there, hoping it isn’t some redneck sending me pictures of dead ducks. This week I found two messages that were a couple of days old. Both were people with duck questions. One of them asked a question. Then asked again. Then said something like “Since you obviously don’t care about animals, I’ll go ask someone who does!” I never received a notification that she had sent a message, but she made sure to assume I was just ignoring her and that I’m an uncaring person. I responded nicely to her and noted that I don’t get notifications, but I never heard back.
This is what social media is like for me, all day long. People expect my immediate attention because I run a rescue. I OWE them my time. For free. All day long. Immediately. What on earth could be taking me so long to respond?! Is it like I’m RUNNING A RESCUE OR SOMETHING MAYBE!?
Meanwhile – and this isn’t meant to offend any one specific person, so please don’t take it personally – but meanwhile, I get sent the same memes and duck videos and chicken photos over and over and over again. And I have to look at each one because in the messages and direct messages and texts and notes between them, there might be someone with a bird who needs help. By the way, that photo above is a goose. Not a duck.
In case it isn’t obvious, I’m going to be severely limiting my social media time for the rescue. But before you get it twisted, don’t assume I am overwhelmed. I am quite happy. I get up each morning and sing to my rescued birdies. I often take Demetra through the drive-thru latte stand with me where she gets oats and I get a soy latte. I hold Danny girl and feed her, talk to whatever other goobers are in the house and head out to the aviary. I say “Good morning, you handsome boy!” to Miles, and give a hearty hello to everyone who cares, and even those who don’t. I open the winter pen and let Joey and crew out, and rush to get them their breakfast while they run around in anticipation. Teddy lunges into my arms as I position him in front of the food and water dish, while Little Quack paces about, waiting for his turn. I laugh at their goofy antics, we chat and I make sure they’re dry and warm and fed and watered and happy. And every few hours I do it all again, until I tuck them in at night.
They bring me a lot of joy. Sharing their joy and their stories with others used to be fun too. But it’s not anymore. The world is different. And honestly, my purpose is not to run an endless stream of duck and chicken photos that brighten up your day. My purpose is to improve the lives of these birds, and to get others to view them as individuals and stop exploiting them. So to that end, here are some ways you can help:
1. Stop eating animals and animal products.
2. Don’t support the use of animals for fashion, research or entertainment.
3. Don’t breed, buy or hatch animals. Rescue them.
4. Educate people that bread is bad for ducks.
5. Educate people that for every backyard hen, a rooster died.
The birdies will thank you for it.
We’ll still be around a little bit, to help any birds that may need it, as our space and time allow. But we are done sharing our rescues with the world. We thank you for the 13+ years of sharing in their lives, and hope that you’ll use the few minutes we’ve freed up in your day to pay it forward, for the birdies.
Love and quacks,
Tiff and the rescued flock