Last week, there was a hot mess of a social media post. Imagine such a thing! Kristi Noem, a stranger to me and billions of others, is apparently the Republican governor of South Dakota. (Okay, she’s no longer a stranger to me but I have already forgotten her name so does that count?) She posted a photo of SD state senator Troy Heinert wearing a full-length coyote fur coat with the caption, “We need to kill more coyotes so everyone can have a coat like Senator Heinert’s. How cool is this?!?” Despite South Dakota allowing the killing of coyotes year-round except for one state park with a limited hunting season, no daily kill limits, shooting hours or restrictions on the guns used, the state’s governor wants yet more coyotes so they can be shot to cloak modern day cave dweller-types.
With me so far?
She posted this horrid photo along with that Valley Girl-esque text, and, of course, there were opinions about it. I mean, a post like that is going to generate opinions and comments. On the thread, I saw many comments from animal advocates — I couldn’t resist commenting myself — but I saw more comments from hunters defending the use of fur and accompanying their comments with random photos of bloody, lifeless animals. The thinking seems to be: Oh, I’m gonna post a picture of me crouched down next to an animal I killed to make the little vegan snowflakes cry. Here’s another picture with all these bloody corpses lined up, kind of like what a serial killer might do. It’s so kneejerk at this point, it’s hard to even feel much but the thinking seems to be that these pictures are going to have animal advocates dissolve into tears. Another version of this is something we see all the time on our social media as well: post a vegan recipe and someone will reply with a picture of a bloody steak. Of course, it’s sad for those of us who still have empathy and compassion to see the cruelty, but what these keyboard warriors don’t realize is due to living as vegans in the world, we are surrounded by reminders of the human war against other animals every day. In other words, it’s not a shock to our system. We kind of get it.
I’d like to let you in a little secret, though.
We have seen these violent images before. Many times. It hasn’t broken us yet and a random picture from a stranger on Facebook won’t break us now. Have you ever been to a Fur-Free Friday march? An anti-hunting protest? If you post photos like this, I’m guessing not, so you probably wouldn’t know that those are the same images you’ll see there. Except they’re used, you know, to try to inspire people to care more, not show off to the world how proudly callous we are. So: gore? We’ve seen it. Stacks of bloody bodies? Yep, we’ve seen it. An animal in a trap? Yes, we’ve seen it and, uh, that’s kind of why many of us decided to become animal advocates in the first place. But posting these pictures because a vegan made you feel wobbly is akin to sending a dick pic to someone who didn’t solicit it. Is it gross? Yes. But is seeing it going to destroy us? Um, no. It’s skeevy, desperate, obnoxious and makes us think you’re more pathetic than we already did but, yeah, somehow we’re still okay. It’s the same mentality of thinking they will be getting one reaction by sending the picture and getting a different one, one that is revulsion and pity for the sender more than anything else.
The snowflakes in this scenario are the ones who are so rattled by someone shaking up their worldview that they are driven to reactively post pictures of victims of violence. It’s hard to imagine being that triggered, irrational and fragile. So keep posting pictures if that makes you feel like you’re temporarily powerful again but remember that mainly we just think you’re weak and pathetic. We’re going to keep being on the right side of history. You can, uh, keep posting those sad little pictures but if I were you, I’d look into something less predictable and more effective like, I don’t know, growing a conscience.