Are My Pets Cuter Than Your Kids?
People love pet pics on Facebook. Cats, dogs, lizards and bunnies. If you put up even a remotely interesting picture of your pet (or someone else's pet) it will get a like. An amen. Shared and possibly a few comments - passive aggressive comments of the "oh my dog can do that backwards in a leotard" type.
Still ... they are pets, they are universal in their cute, silly ways.
Note: I'm not going to tell you exactly how many pets I have because Pittsburgh has a pet limit law that will most likely be found illegal given court precendent and such, but I'd prefer not to be the test case. However, I would do so if it came down to that. Just sayin'
I do not have kids, we do not have kids (my partner Laura and I have been together for 9.5 years.) We do have pets. We also have 2 biological nieces and 2 biological nephews - one set live in Florida and one set live 2 miles away. We have an array of "family members by choice" most notably a six year old nephew and and his 16 month old brother who have knows as aunties since day one.
We post photos of them. We comment on photos of our friend's kids. But I do notice that people comment more often on pets.
As a social worker, I think I know why - there's a discomfort with "creeping" over an entire album of child pictures (oh, how I hate the word creeping - but save that for another post) - a bit of a stigma that doesn't come along with a few photos of a dog. So it is actually sort of a cultural reaction to the invisible boundary that protects children.
I'm happy to look at a photo album, but to be honest - I skim. Be it your vacation shots, your kid's soccer game or some rite of passage of any type, I skim. It isn't that I lack appreciation for the event or your family or the very genuine degree of awesome that is all of those things - but one or two photos is enough. If you are showing me real time photos, I can make "mmmhmmm" sounds as the images flash by and everyone is happy.
I'm not going to take the time to "mmmhmmm" each Facebook photo with a like or a comment. I'll like a few that really strike me and to let you know I was there. And I think that's reasonable.
No, it doesn't mean my dog/cat is cuter than your kid. It means that even in a social media world that anthropomorphizes animals (LOLZ cats- another post), we still recognize the distinction between pets and people, especially children.
And that's a very good thing. When I noticed (I'm a social worker with a background in foster care - I notice!) an adult liking every single kid pic or commenting or just going beyond what seems appropriate and healthy, I pay attention. Maybe its a long lost aunt who missed out on important childhood moments. Maybe its not. Maybe it matters, but you can be darn tooting sure that if I feel uncomfortable, I'll politely ask YOU. Because I do care about your kids - even if I never met them and haven't seen you since 1993. And I've now discovered FOUR pedophiles in my life - four. So I don't take it lightly and while I don't overreact, I do watch.
I maybe a crazy cat lesbian lady (OMG wait til you see the picture of Ana I took tonight...) but I'm also part of the village watching our for all kids.
And to be honest, I think people post individual photos of their pets - live shots so to speak, but whole albums of kid events. I mean I take pics of the pets when its convenient for me. Rarely do I photograph an entire outing. The opposite is true of kids. So part of this is due to sheer quantity.
Regardless, I suggest consciously avoiding comparing the likes my chihuahua gets to the likes of your 4th birthday party. It is really a good thing.
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