The Social Media Carousel

Following the news is much like watching an old-fashioned style carousel. While you may focus on a particular rider or object, there are plenty of distractions along the course of the ride. Decades ago our news was filled with somewhat credible and journalistic issues. Game and cooking shows could take our mind off of severe problems while soap operas would introduce a moment of drama to be shared with those that shared similar television interests. Naturally, there was Donahue or the Morton Downey Jr. show, which were the first talk show formats that included audience participation. Seeking tabloid journalism was as easy as standing in the checkout lane at any grocery store USA. That form of journalism was shunned but still a part of the gossip world. Overall the decorum of gossip entertainment and social etiquette is contrasting different than today’s standards – or lack thereof.

With the introduction of cable, satellite and streaming media content the world of news has become more of an entertainment value. Newspapers that once provided journalistic standards are barely surviving and slowly being replaced with opinion-based talk shows. Decades ago popularity of an individual could be solely based upon if you encountered a busy signal trying to reach a friend or by a frenzy of a pop culture performer appearance on your favorite television program. The internet and streaming media has removed the anticipation effect and replaced it with a 24-hour social media tracking device with special mobile alerts to keep individuals informed. If The Beatles would have been as popular today as they were fifty years ago, then JFK Airport would be empty except for the hordes of paparazzi trying to get an exclusive photo to post it on the internet.

Americans have desperately been trying to “cut the cord” to expensive cable or satellite television subscription services. Folks have resorted towards streaming media content or social media for what they consider as credible information with a feeling of being heard or connected. The United States was founded on the pursuit and discovery of freedoms. One of those foundations is the free enterprise system. However, that free enterprise or accessibility indeed isn’t free. What used to be free television with rabbit ears and a bit of tin foil has become an al la carte cash cow for social media content providers, television networks, and internet providers. If you want to skip past the commercials, be prepared to pay a premium fee. But finding credible news or events that impact community or awareness is now buried behind the Kardashians, Twitter rants or whatever was the buzz feed from TMZ.

Americans cannot cut the cord or change the level of dignity because we desire to keep up a war on something. It is embedded in our DNA and fabric as a nation to be fighters. We find it difficult to determine what we are fighting for and how to follow a particular platform. This is why politics is broken, social movements have division, and society desires to blend only if they think like me. We love to gossip and read about it. Otherwise, the National Enquirer would have been bankrupt decades ago. The risk of bankruptcy is local newspapers, libraries and the arts in general. Apple and Samsung will continue to profit because something new will be released to capture our eye. Somewhat like the carousel but without it ever stopping. We are all riders attempting to influence others to join us as long as maintain Facebook, Twitter, social media, dating sites, and receive our news from Apple or Samsung and its subscribers. President Trump has been smart (and I use that term loosely) enough to watch us all fall into the trap of “what will he say or Tweet next”?

Technology hasn’t made us any smarter or better multitaskers. In fact, I would argue that social media, television, mobile devices, computing, and other factors have developed us as codependent attention deficit thinkers seeking the quickest remedy with not credible returns. This is not to suggest to turn back the clock. However, it is a warning that we should tone down our rhetoric and use a bit more decorum, comprehension, and listening skills. Whoever is on television today will undoubtedly be on tv the rest of the week because the internet and subscription services never die.

Perhaps that irrational gossip-laden program can be replaced with random acts of kindness such as providing your dog or cat more attention (I doubt they watch television or play on the internet). Calling a friend or family member on the telephone (no texting allowed) and listening to them. Reconnecting with family and loved ones that typically hear from you on holidays. Sitting down with your favorite book or newspaper and that homemade cup of coffee that didn’t cost you $5 with your name scribbled on the side of the cup. Enjoying a moment of sanity in your world may bring you to the reality that you are no longer are on the carousel. Enjoy it while you can.

Are No-Kill Shelters Really No-Kill?

I am an animal lover. I always have been. For several years I have volunteered at my local SPCA. I have witnessed many success stories and watched many miracles of rehoming come to life. However, with any good thing, there is also a sad side. Most people think that the ASPCA or local SPCA is a 100% No-Kill Shelter. That is somewhat true, but there is always the exception to the rule.

A No-Kill shelter is not all 100% gold standard. If any animal is deemed unadoptable because of aggression or being housed long-term in the shelter, then more than likely that animal will be quietly euthanized. Additionally, if there is a situation where a cat or dog requires long-term medical care that the shelter cannot afford then euthanasia is usually the course of action. In some cases, there are alternative shelters or rescue groups that may take in physically and behaviorally challenged situations. However, this is a rare case. I have watched some animals go off-site to an animal clinic for the sole purpose of being euthanized by a SPCA.

This blog is in no way a slap in the face of organizations that do a wonderful and terrific job of many rehomed animals. The fact is that when I read a no-kill shelter sign, then it should not come with an asterisks or disclaimer. The fact is that no-kill shelters do a much better job than county animal shelters overall when it comes to euthanasia rates. However, what I would like to see is the ASPCA or local SPCA’s truth in reporting efforts. It should disclose to the general public the actual number of animals it sent off site for euthanasia procedures rather than claiming its no-kill rate at 100%. This reporting is not accurate because these shelters outsource that death order.

A problem I have readily identified with any SPCA is that they should be an advocacy group rather than just an animal shelter. To me, any animal shelter should have at a minimum a veterinary hospital like structure with its toxicology lab, radiography processes, and plenty of quality preventive medications. It takes serious money to run a shelter. The amount of food, litter, cleaning supplies, newspapers, staffing, water, and medicines can be staggering. However, every animal should have not only necessities but basic quality care. If shelters wish to outsource veterinary care, that is fine. However, at some point, the severity of illness or pain threshold should not have to wait until the shelter can find someone to drive the animal to a vet clinic. This is where intake identifiers are not always readily identified, and animals are returned because of expensive veterinary testing or procedures not identified at the shelter. Thus, euthanasia will continue to climb, but SPCA numbers will never reflect those death rates.

I still support my shelter and try hard to advocate for animals where I can. However, I challenge any of you to call your no-kill shelter to ask a simple question of when do they euthanize and when was the last time it was performed? The actual answer may shock you.

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