Using Nature for Clout

Just a few moments ago, I was on my patio tending to my pansies, petunias, and roses when I spied a young woman in the parking lot holding out a towel. She and an older woman were creeping up toward something between two parked cars. One of those cars was my neighbor’s and they have a cat that spends a lot of time outdoors, sometimes under their car when it’s an especially warm day like today. My first instinct was to run out there and stop them from catching him. Then, I remembered that he’s a cat that’s wary of anyone he doesn’t recognize and would bolt away, so I stayed on my patio watching them, feeling like a nosy neighbor. This isn’t particularly my style as I tend to mind my business, but there was something in the way the girl inched slowly toward her target and how the older woman was filming everything on her phone.

The girl caught something and brought it across the parking lot and onto the sidewalk, all while she and the older woman were speaking low and getting close-ups with the phone camera. Suddenly it leapt from the confines of the towel and the girl went to chase it but it crawled under one of the hedges. They searched for it all while the other lady filmed the whole thing. I say from my patio, “What was that?” but they may not have heard me while they were busy with their search, or they were too engrossed with filming. They soon walked away and stopped at the end of the sidewalk to look at their video. I went out my front door and from my stairwell I could see a mole slowly moving through the hedges.

And that’s when I got pissed. Moles are fragile animals and the way she was handling this one may have hurt it. No, I didn’t confront them nor did I give them so much as a dirty look. They wouldn’t have cared anyway since they got a cute video for their TikTok of an innocent wild animal that was just minding its business until it was suddenly snatched up in a towel and squeezed in a stranger’s grip.

Am I speculating? Possibly. But this chick was talking directly to the camera as she held this poor creature, like she was narrating its life story.

I use social media. I’m on Instagram so I can follow other witches and local small businesses and stay in touch with friends. But the one thing I hate about social media is the absolute gall of people when they go out of their way to catch wild animals just so they can have a cute video. I’m sure this lady who snatched up this mole will put on her post about how they found and rescued a mole and then put it back in the wild. Don’t get me wrong; there are great shorts on TikToks. I’m guilty of melting over videos of other people’s cats. But there are countless videos on TikTok and YouTube of ‘rescued animals’ that have been staged, all for clicks and likes. It’s edited animal abuse.

At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old hag (too late), we shouldn’t involve so much of nature on our social media accounts. If you want to film a wild animal for your account at a safe distance where neither you nor the animal is harmed, that’s fine! But when you go out of your way to get that perfect shot and put yourself in the middle of Nature and disturb Her animals, She’s going to bite back.

My parents live in a small coastal town in Oregon known for its huge elk population, and everyone respects them and gives them space. The elk do the same for the residents. Hell, they even cross at the crosswalk. But the residents of this small town know which ones are the tourists for these morons will try to take a selfie with a mother elk and her calf and then before they know it, they’re nearly mowed down. There was an instance when a man’s dog was killed by an elk because he got too close to take a photo of them.

I don’t know where I’m going with this post and this is not my usual subject when it comes to this blog, but I just had to rant about it because I have seen it too much online, and today I witnessed it happening from my own patio while watering my flowers. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be a nosy neighbor, I guess. Then again, I’ve never seen these women before and they were probably waiting for someone who lives here since they were hanging out in the parking lot.

It’s a beautiful, warm day and I’m almost off work. I’ll feel better after I walk the trail near my apartment and have a cider from the local pub that overlooks the pond with its many ducks and geese. That’s how you admire Nature.

Header photo by The National Wildlife Federation


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