It was the photo entitled "Puppy in a Onesie" that put me over the edge. Before that it'd been something of a slow burn. I knew on some conscious level that my sense of irritation was increasing but the gravity of the subject was so minor that I ignored the agitation. The picture, posted on Facebook in full cloying glory, really doesn't need any description beyond the title which was as precise as it was unfortunate.
And, at that moment, I confronted what had been percolating all this time. Call this a coming out if you will, but I'm announcing for all to hear that I hate your dog.
Before the proud dog-owners of the world unite in attacking me, let me state that I'm not a particularly negative person. I think people who actually know me might even describe me as being tolerant if not pleasant. I'm not saying I'm immune to other irritants on social media. Does a Facebook friend posting 272 photos from the family trip to Hershey Park annoy and astound me? Yes. Is frequent and unsolicited CrossFit propaganda (I contend that people describing their workout is the modern-day version of being cornered by an insurance salesman) a time-wasting bummer? Absolutely. And, after being exposed daily to what should be private political and religious opinions being conveyed with the same fervor as someone describing an "awesome" batch of teriyaki-wasabi chicken wings, do I shake my head in pitying disgust? Most definitely. Yes, there are immeasurable amounts of information to be ticked-off about online but, somehow, it's the dog pics that really bring me down.
Getting back to "Puppy in a Onesie", I'm not completely sure why this was the particular dog photo that stopped me in my tracks. Clearly the poster wasn't going for irony or humor. It wasn't like one of those artistic Wegman Weimaraner's drinking a cup of coffee and reading the New York Times. It was pure, saccharine cuteness directed towards the welcoming throngs of dog-lovers sitting in front of their various devices. Of course, the majority of dog pictures you come across have the simple intention of inducing a warm and fuzzy "awwww" so I'm not certain why this one stood out.
One of the nice things about social media is that, to a great extent, one can weed out things they don't want to look at. I became Facebook friends with a couple of people I barely knew in high school and quickly realized that they were serial posters. Posting to the extent that in a matter of days I knew way too much about their lives, diets, politics, scars, kinks, etc. So, not wanting feelings hurt, I just blocked their feed and didn't have to end the virtual friendships. Unfortunately I have real friends that I also see in person, some of them dog-owners, and I don't want to block them. So, that's why I can't just not see the dog pics.
The funny or ironic thing is that I actually do like dogs. We had a fine dog, Derek, and when he finally ended up chasing squirrels at that great dog park in the sky I drove around in my car for days just crying hysterically. And, I have friends and relatives that I love with dogs that I'm really quite fond of. In person. It's the goddamn photos that set me off. Invariably my reaction to seeing them is "Why"?
I'm not saying that a dog-owner shouldn't be proud of their canine's beauty or cuteness. A photo now and then is completely enjoyable. It's the incessant nearly identical posts that are problematic. There's one FB friend who posts images of their tiny lap-dog on a daily basis. From how many angles do I have to see this little spud of a tail-wagger before the message becomes unbearably repetitive? I get it. It's cute, you love it and boy do you want all the world to bask in the splendor of this unbearably cuddly pooch.
The problem is the unrelenting flow of the dog imagery. If a dog-owner happens to take an aesthetically beautiful photograph of their beloved pet, please do post it. If it's the same photo as every other one (and you know it is) maybe think about those of us who will be seeing it. Does a hearty number of "likes" justify a cheap attempt at communal agreement that your animal is adorable? It's not even a variation on a theme. It's an unrelenting and repetitive loop of syrupy sentimentality.
Maybe "Puppy in a Onesie" especially did me in because of the personification of the animal. The owner inflicting their need for that cute-buzz by putting baby clothes on their pet is just sad. I don't even mind the antlers for the dog at Christmas time as that's more of an animalization which, somehow, isn't as offensive. Honestly, I can't imagine the dog is thrilled in either case.
Also, there's something cheap and easy about posting a photo that you know will elicit the same response every time. Somebody is going to think it's cute. It's like a stand-up comic performing for pot-smokers who will laugh at anything, or a vendor selling those deep-fried, sugar-laden funnel cakes at a state fair that the folks on the midway just cannot resist consuming.
I'm really just venting and actually do feel a little better after writing this. I don't want to offend anyone who loves their dogs so maybe I'll revise my initial declaration from I Hate Your Dog to I Hate Your Dog Photo. To the dog-owners out there, maybe just try and be just a little more discerning with the canine imagery you put out into the universe. We've all got cameras and subjects we like to photograph. Truthfully, most photos are not worthy of posting.
Now, feeling purged of this mild but weighty subject I'm going to take a little break and do one of those whimsical quizzes we see all the time on the social media. You know the type. What character would you be in Harry Potter? What movie musical are you? What color is your aura? Let's see which one is out there for me today. Ugh! I swear this is the first one I came across: "What Kind of Dog is Your Soul?" Not good.