October 26, 2014

blog_judy_coolsMoonlighting. A blog by Judy Cools.

I imagine most of my readers are familiar with social media – Facebook, Twitter, and other interactive websites.  On those websites, people can post things that are funny or poignant, trendy or classic, as a way of saying what’s on their minds or to start a discussion with others.  Sometimes the posts get a reaction other than what’s intended – like when a homophobic individual posts a critical message to a gay-rights advocate or when a flag-waver from one major political party posts something that offends one of their friends from the other major political party.  That, sometimes, is just the essence of social media.

Then there are the posts that seem innocent at first, and end up making you question yourself as a human being.  I recently received one of those.  The post was a video of a squirrel which had eaten pumpkins that were sitting out.  The pumpkins were fermented, though, and the squirrel was quite drunk.

There is no doubt that the video was funny.  The squirrel was so far gone it couldn’t climb a tree, and at one point it went around and around in circles.  On the flip side, I felt bad for this little animal.  It was confused and frightened.  In a world where having its wits about him is a matter of survival – literally the difference between his life and his death – we’re watching this video of him in a drunken panic.  Is this really funny?

You could argue that his drunkenness was accidental.  No one cruelly fed him alcohol intending to harm him or cause him distress.  You could observe that no one was provoking him while he was drunk, trying to scare him or get some reaction out of him.  You could argue that he was “just a squirrel” and why was this such a big deal anyway?

It’s a big deal because these are the kinds of issues that make us question where our values are.  There’s an innocent side you can consider, where the squirrel fell victim to a random food source that messed up his brain temporarily.  He did some uncharacteristic things, and those were funny to watch.

Then there’s a side that says Hey, this is a small, living creature in agony, and we humans think it’s funny.  What does that say about us?

I try not to be stuffy or overly conservative – and I’ve been accused of both, from time to time.  But I also try to have a broader view of situations.  What does it say about the human character to laugh without helping, and to post a video so others can laugh too?  What does it teach our children?  Is this the kind of situation that sets the stage for bullying –  saying it’s OK to laugh at other animals, or people smaller and weaker than ourselves for our own entertainment?  These are the subtleties packed into a few minutes of “entertainment.”  I urge you to be aware of the larger picture, to add balance and guidance when you see these things.  The questions raised today are clearer than the answers.


Kudos, complaints, or conversation?

© 2014, J. L. Cools


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