Saturday, April 24, 2010

When preaching to the choir, try adjusting the volume

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again --- I love Facebook.

Not only do I have the opportunity to connect with friends and family, I also have the chance to connect with people whom I’ve never met face to face, but share a bond with due to our mutual interest in certain topics, whether it is cooking, music, sustainable farming or critters. On Facebook, there’s no such thing as being the only chick in the room who knows what TNR is. Or a CAFO. Whatever it is that you’re into, there’s a group (or twenty groups) that are equally interested in the same subject.

Being the junkie-of-all-things-pawed that I am, once on Facebook I set forth to “fan” (or like, or high-five, or chest bump, or whatever the action is called by the time this piece posts) a whole passel of companion animal-related sites. Living in an area where companion-animal issues seem to be a decade or so behind many other parts of the country, I figured this would be a great way to gain some insight into what other communities do to address homeless pets, feral cats and fundraising challenges.

So why is it that just a few months after joining up with dozens of groups I find myself hiding some of them from my feed --- or even removing myself from their fan base?

Chalk it up to abuse fatigue. You see, I came to “fan” all of these pages because I’m already deeply, seriously, passionately aware of the heinous acts that individuals subject animals to. I know that every day someone, somewhere, is committing some reprehensible act against one of our non-verbal brethren. And I’d bet that every other person who joined up in support of your Facebook page is aware of it, too.

Yet day after day, some groups seem to all but revel in posting the latest “Look what these horrible people did to this helpless animal!” There have been a few stories when it appeared that several groups on Facebook were in a race to see who could get the abuse story out fastest (especially if there’s video involved) and use the tawdriest headline to induce clicks, and I can’t help but wonder why.

We’re already in the choir, folks, and while I’d never presume to speak for everyone, horrific images and stomach-turning video aren’t really what I look forward to when I log onto Facebook first thing in the morning. I know what goes on out in the big world. I signed up to be a fan of your site/group/cause because I want to share in finding solutions. If I want outrage and disgust with my morning coffee I can type "animal abuse" into Google's search engine and take it from there.

It’s one of the reasons I don’t post items like that on this blog site. Yeah, perhaps I’d get the “big numbers” I’ve always dreamed of having, but if those are the sorts of posts one has to make to get those numbers, I’ll pass.

And I’ll likely pass by your site, too.

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