Cyberbullying and advocacy: a moment of online anger can hurt the animals

Cyberbullying and advocacy: a moment of online anger can hurt the animals

Anger and outrage are normal, human responses to some of what advocates experience or witness. From the use of traps or factory farms to kill animals for commodities to the killing of animals for sport or entertainment, there is no shortage of reasons to be disturbed by what we see. And expressing that anger or outrage is healthy – but we must acknowledge there are times that unchecked outbursts can be hazardous to gaining ground for the animals.

This isn’t always clear for individuals – but from the perspective of The Fur-Bearers, over time, it can be greatly problematic. Here are a few recent examples:

  • The government diverted resources away from education and enforcement programs to handle threats against a conservation officer following a questionable decision to kill an animal.
  • The government blocked access to documentation regarding culling of wolves due to security concerns after ongoing emails were received that were both directly and indirectly threatening in nature.
  • Municipalities have rescinded offers to meet with The Fur-Bearers regarding wildlife co-existence and fur farms due to the language of communication they received from advocates.

These may be excuses or it may be real fear – the point remains the same: the results of situations changed and adversely affected our ability to help animals because of online commentary. The Fur-Bearers also monitor our social media channels and regularly need to hide or remove comments of a violent or threatening nature.

Being angry makes sense. It’s arguably good to feel anger at what we see and talk about. But using language that implies violent behaviour or action changes the conversation away from what the animals need, and how people we may want change from view us.

These issues frequently revolve around specific government policies – not cultural or societal issues, or even solely political issues. As such, there can often be clear solutions afforded that will benefit the animals in question.

If you’ve read or watched something online that’s made you angry, here are a few things you can do to make sure your anger isn’t overwhelming you, and that any comments you make will be helpful for the animals:

  • Write down how you feel separately from any comments you make online
  • Go for a walk, play with a pet, or exercise in some way
  • Talk to a friend, family member, or professional about how you’re feeling

None of this is to say that outrage, anger, and protest don’t have a place in affecting change. But at the end of the day we need to keep our eyes on the goals: to advocate for animals. And that means sometimes we need to ask ourselves: are my actions helping the animals, or are they making me feel like I’m doing something?

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Established in 1953, The Fur-Bearers is a charitable, non-partisan organization whose goals are to end the commercial fur trade and promote solutions for wildlife coexistence in communities. Your donation is tax-deductible. Charitable registration number: 130006125RR0002

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