STFU Parents: Facebook Parents Who Are Raising Future Hunters (And Possible Sociopaths)
Out of more than 1700 posts on the STFU, Parents blog, only two have been taken down due to emotionally charged responses from readers: Antifreeze Salad and Kittengate. The former post was about a woman who wanted to feed her neighbor’s dog a salad with “antifreeze salad dressing” so it would die an excruciating death and her baby’s naps would finally go uninterrupted, and the latter was about a woman who laughed off her one-year-old accidentally killing a kitten by strangling it with “love,” as children are wont to do with baby animals when left unsupervised. Ever since the removal of those posts back in 2010, I’ve stopped posting about people who want to or have caused injury to domestic pets, because the submissions are upsetting, cruel, and riot-inducing in the comments section.
But what about animals that don’t fall into the domestic pets category? Like, say, squirrels or birds that were killed by domestic pets? People never seem to have as strong a reaction to those types of dead animals, even if the submissions I receive show kids playing with them like they’re toys. Remember back in 2011 when this video of a little girl playing with a dead squirrel went viral? The parents — who were a combination of amused and astonished by their daughter’s affection for the “sweet baby” dead squirrel she was flinging around like a ferret — even brought their dog into the frame to show both the “killer and the killed,” the way one might take a proud photo after catching a large fish. Somehow, because squirrels aren’t valued as lovable pets, that video came off as horrifying but funny. But if the little girl had been holding a dead cat or small dog in the same manner, it probably would have just been viewed as horrifying.
With all of that in mind, today I’d like to talk about the dead animal submissions that some people won’t have a problem with whatsoever. Here in America, we have a lot of land, much of which hasn’t been transformed into cities, and where many people live, squirrel might be for dinner. You might let your kids play with dead animals for fun. Perhaps you and your relatives all go hunting together, babies in tow. Maybe you even give each other guns for Christmas, so you can all shoot wild animals and swig watery beer together in a communal fashion. And I get that. I do. I’m originally from the South, where hunting is a typical “sport” (I use the term “sport” loosely because unless I’m playing Oregon Trail, I don’t see the fun in pitting intelligent humans with weapons against defenseless animals in their natural habitats), and I understand that for lots of people, the act of hunting is not purely sadistic or without sustentative benefit. Plenty of people eat the deer they kill. Sure they do. But before they dig in with a fork and knife, they give themselves props. They gloat. They take pictures and hold onto antlers and smile great big smiles, because look at what they did! They exerted their human dominance over stupid fucking animals, hahahaha, now THAT is a Kodak an iPhone moment! And increasingly, they encourage their kids to take part and continue the legacy of their family’s hunting traditions, because if there’s anything more Instagram-worthy than a grown adult standing next to a murdered animal, it’s a small child standing next to a bloodied deer head. Amirite or amirite??
For some people, the inclement slaughter of animals is a part of daily life. And watching their children play with possibly diseased, dead animals is an extension of that way of life. But my question is: Why does this shit need to get posted on social media? Do people really want to see pictures of kids playing with dead animals or decked out in camouflage next to their first “kill”? Perhaps some people do (the friends, relatives, and locals who share in the glee of participating in those activities), but I’d like to think that overall, most people don’t. It’s probably just a provincial thing, and your level of acceptance depends on where you live and how you were raised, but at the end of the day, we’re still talking about dead animals here. Whether you eat meat or not (and I do), it’s never seemed right to me to brag about the killing of animals, even if it’s part of an instinctual celebration of “the circle of life.” Maybe I’m alone on this, but I *hope* we can all agree that posting about bloody deer heads and playing with dead animals as temporary pets isn’t really how social media should be used. Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments — and please BE WARNED that today’s column includes some very graphic photos that may be upsetting to some readers. (Or not.)