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Lost dogs and outrage

schmidt

My daughters don’t use Facebook. They have their reasons, and I agree with most of them: waste of time, privacy, concern for the level of conversation. So, I was a bit surprised when I got a text from a daughter the day after Christmas asking me to post something on a Facebook site.

They had gone for a ski out in the east county with their dogs. One daughter has a three-year-old 70# mutt she got as a puppy. He was an Attention Deficit puppy, but he has a really good heart and he’s come around. I love him. The other one is new to us. She’s a pretty simple but beautiful 6-month-old Plott hound who follows her nose and not much else. The dogs had run off about 11AM. I got the text about three. They had done the snowy ski a couple times calling, no tracks, no dogs. So, they’d hit some nearby houses and gathering places and someone had suggested the Facebook site for lost dogs in the community.

I asked to join the group, was accepted and posted that night. The daughters came home without dogs.

We went out the next day. Lots of dog tracks, but not ours. Most looked like coyote. My youngest daughter thought she’d seen a wolf track the day before. No dogs that night.

After three days we had kind of given up, but we went out again. We stopped for gas in a nearby town and a guy came out of the store. As the pump was running I said, “Hey we lost a couple dogs out here three days ago.”

“Yeah, I saw it on Facebook.” He responded. He had some local advice about who to check with. But we went home again that night with no dogs.

We didn’t go out the fourth day, but at 3 PM someone called us from a Forest Service road about 3 miles from where they’d run off. We collected the pups. The little one seemed fine, but the mutt had a face full of quills and had lost about 15 pounds. They are doing fine.

Facebook gets no credit for getting the dogs back. The guys who finally called us just read the information on their collars. But it sure was a way to reach out. The posts got over 50 shares. It made us feel connected.

I didn’t successfully use Facebook in any of my campaigns for public office, but the young folks I worked with this last summer on Proposition 2 sure used it to their benefit.

I still see the tool as a very mixed blessing; all tools are. We can use it to connect, communicate and influence. But I think we all need to be a little wiser about that influence aspect. It is difficult for me to communicate clearly in a sentence or two, but that’s what Facebook demands. Influence should require more unless the response you are looking for is outrage. I think that just requires a couple words, maybe a picture.

It’s even more frightening that some folks are spending lots of money to use this tool to their ends, to influence us in ways we might not see. Shame on us for being that simple.

But the simple pup seemed to survive the frozen ordeal the best; then again, she was not outraged at the porcupine.
 

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