Monday, April 1, 2013

Wallaroos and birdies

At my daytime job, I write the official company blog, amongst other things. Sometimes inspiration wanes and I have to google for ideas. One of those days brought me to an online newspaper article about exotic pets. To me, it seemed like a great subject to natter about. I mean, they're cute, they're unusual, and people in general don't know that much about them. What's not to like, right?

It took about five minutes from posting the blog to the first angry comment on Facebook. How dared I write about exotic pets? The company in general - and I in particular - were a disappointment.

I replied diplomatically that I'm not exactly telling people to go out and buy something that's hard to take care of, and what's exotic depends on part of the world. I had chinchillas on the list, and took them as an example. In other countries they're just as common pets as hamsters or guinea pigs are here.

The commenter did not let herself be pacified. She wrote, "This is a pastime to adopt these animals for those people who crave the extra attention having a pet like this brings. Animals like these, plus snakes, other reptiles, and birds get let loose in an area they are not native to, and cause all kinds of problems."

Seriously? I've had birds. Am I a bad person because I took care of a bird for thirteen years?

A dilemma. She'd never be happy unless I agree, apologize, and say it'll never happen again. I couldn't do that, for a number of reasons. 

First of all, I don't agree. I believe there are many pet parents with exotic pets who take exemplary care of them, and many owners of cats and dogs who shouldn't be allowed to care for a potted plant. 

Second, I'm speaking for the company. How many customers might we have who share their home with a bird, a snake, a lizard, or a turtle? Or, something even more exotic?

I spent the most part of that day enhancing my calm and politely disagreeing. I do believe my readers enjoy seeing photos of cute animals. I don't see anything wrong with showing a photo of a Wallaroo, telling people what it is. I'm not saying, "This is the coolest thing ever, go out and buy one."

I have a live and let live approach to most things in life. I don't care what kind of pet you have, as long as you take care of it. 

I don't care who you marry, as long as it's consensual and you're nice to each other. 

I don't care what religion you adhere to, as long as you leave me out of it.

I do care about people yelling at random strangers for not agreeing with them. Differing points of view is fine - we're all different people with different backgrounds - but keep it polite. Being nice generally gets you further than pouncing on someone.

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