As someone who is still coming to terms with the fact I have an iPhone and not ‘my phone’, is yet to master my computer’s keyboard, and cannot reconcile the cyber melody that is social media and struggles to navigate the forested paths of Facebook, it should be no surprise to hear that I rarely venture into her darkened woods. So if you’ve sent me a friend request I haven’t responded to, included me in a notification I’ve missed, tagged me in something I haven’t seen or invited me to an event I never showed up for, well there’s your answer, sorry.
This happened most recently with a posting (hope I’ve got that term right) that came up on my Facebook feed. I chanced upon what seemed to be a rather innocuous image of a girl’s legs that looked like they had been cryovaced. It beats me why someone would do that, but given the plethora of other inane things people seem to do coupled with their need to post such exploits on social media, I just put this image down to yet another embarrassing social faux pas and moved on. Moved on, that is, until the repeated occurrence of the image and subsequent discussion around it finally lured me in to find out just why this image had so captured people’s attention.
Scrolling through the postings of the image and the many conversations it had sparked, the paint brush finally hit me. It wasn’t an image of shiny legs; rather, somehow between my last viewing of the image and the one before me now something had changed. Miraculously, the girl’s shiny legs had morphed into legs covered with white markings. How, I mused, in heaven’s name could I have missed this! And from that point on, those now infamous legs would never be viewed the same way again.
Even today, some weeks later, all I see when I look at this image is a pair of legs covered with white markings. Struggle as I do, and looking from several different angles, I cannot not see shiny, plastic encrusted legs any more. And on closer inspection I realised I had missed all the important clues that should have directed me to the obvious conclusion – paint brushes, art tools and case, all little neon signs in the background.
And there amidst the myriad of comments that this imaged sparked, was this little pearl of wisdom: “Once my eyes focused, I saw the paint. Now I can’t see the shininess anymore.”
Shiny things cause us to lose focus, failing to see what is so evident before us. And for those of us for whom animals are so dear in our hearts and lives, this is never more obvious.
It is often hard to understand how others cannot see animals the same way we do. However, for so many of these same folk, myself included, there was a time when we didn’t see animals for who they were, rather (and ironically), only as commodities, of plastic encased packages in supermarkets. This led us to believe it’s the way of world, this was the way it had to be and it was their preordained future, with no further discussion being entered into.
But this is not a time to be disheartened; it is a time to be embraced and thanks to my nemesis (the computer), so many conversations are being had, so many images are being shared and so many myths are being debunked.
The simple fact is this: the more we see animals, the more we truly come to see them. Seeing them not as the sum of their parts but as unique individuals with wants, needs and desires, and while some may be similar, no two are the same.
For us to take part in an evolution of thoughts and perceptions that will change, not the world but the way we see it. While expediency and taste buds may plead with us not to do so, decency and justice demand we do. And when we reach that apex of truth we’ll paint the brightest and most compassionate future for all. At some point it will change, it has to, just keep looking.