Making Fun of Hate

It kind of sucks when people hate you. Especially when it's just for being yourself. It's not a great feeling when you're just going about your day, hanging out with your partner, eating some snacks, and suddenly you open up your DM's and have someone calling you a rapist and telling you to kill yourself. Or when you have a great idea for a tweet before bed, and wake up the next day to find your notifications filled accusations and vitriol. Even if you're someone who's got a heart of steel, constant messages like that can always find a way to worm in and break you down over time. 
There's a few solutions to this problem. You could (and probably should) make frequent use of the block button. You could have your account locked so that your visibility is limited and less people can engage. You can stay off of social media all together and just hang out in zoo positive spaces. But, there's another solution that I think is extremely powerful, that doesn't get talked about enough. There's a way to take that hatred and turn it into something way more powerful. Something that's good not only for you, but also your friends, your followers, and the community as a whole. And that way, is to just absolutely dunk on haters. 
And I'm not talking about facts and logic here. As zoos, most of us can recant the typical arguments and debates by heart. Sometimes we don't need more of the same old rational and logical discussion. Sometimes what we need instead is laughter. But not just any kind of laughter. I'm talking about the kind that comes from collectively agreeing that someone is just so incredibly dumb that you're shocked they even figured out how to operate a keyboard to send a message to you. Or that they're so determined to be edgy in the way that they harass you that it goes well well past cool into incredibly cringe, especially when pulled into the spotlight for everyone to enjoy. 
Here's an example. Recently someone told me in the DM's that they were going to "9/11 me". Now I'm sure what they intended to mean with that statement was that they were going to commit an act of terrorism on me. They said it, presumably, with the intention to cause fear. It was in essence a threat. But, it certainly didn't end up like they'd hoped. Instead of taking it that way, it's way funnier to imagine that this random stranger on Twitter Dot Com is so passionate about my demise that they're going to somehow obtain my address, find a way to circumnavigate airport security, hijack a plane, and use it to fly directly into my small house. While 9/11 was a tragedy and the loss of life is a bad thing, I've got an awful sense of humor, and me and my boyfriend were cracking up trying to visualize this whole scenario of events. For the next week, any time there was a loud noise outside, we would break out into laughter all over again, shouting about how it was the plane just about to hit us. 
What started of as someone trying to cause me distress brought me to tears with how hard I was laughing. Their hate became something positive. This can work on an even bigger scale too! 
The Zooey Dot Pub Discord server is a public server. We're so public in fact, that anyone is able to create their own invite links and share them wherever they want. This sometimes leads to trolls joining the server. It even sometimes leads to raids, with multiple people all joining in order to say slurs, call us mean names, and tell us to self harm. This is objectively something annoying to have to deal with. Once again, the intention of the action on their part is to create distress. For many of these trolls, they come in with the idea that they're somehow violating a safe space we've created. Instead however, they're really just entering a lions' den. At this point, trolls joining becomes a server wide event, where everyone joins in to see what ridiculous nonsense the person in question is going to start spewing. We have it down to a science at this point. What's their opening line, what direction are they going to go? Are they just going to start spamming hate speech, are they going to try and argue first? Sometimes we even get really creative people who come in pretending to not be anti's with the same effectiveness as Superman disguising himself by putting on glasses. Those are extra fun, like a joke that everyone's in on, where we're all just collectively waiting for the punch line where the secret agent gets bored of just hanging out in our server watching us talk about normal stuff and ends up getting more and more erratic. Frequently, members of the server even petition the mods to let trolls stay after they start causing shit, just because it's a lot of fun for everyone to throw tomatoes at the idiot that decided that the Discord server with nearly 900 members was where they were finally going to destroy the zoo movement.
That's the thing about online hate. It's only ever as serious as you let it be. It doesn't matter what the person on the other side of the screen says to you, you have the power to either make it go away, or to turn it into something else. Something that you enjoy instead. And that transformation can be more than just something positive for you. You can make something a lot of other zoos can appreciate too. 
If you've been around the zoo community for any amount of time, I'm sure you've seen "Anti-zoophile" art. Pictures drawn by people who care way too much meant to be an easy way to share an anti-zoo stance. This art can be styled just as digital pieces, but can also be made up as stickers, buttons, or any other kind of design. Typically, once a new anti-zoo design comes out, it's not more than 24 hours before a zoo has made an edited version instead supporting the cause. Stickers that say "Kill All Zoophiles" quickly turn into ones that say "Love All Zoophiles" with a background gradient of the zoo flag colors. The creation of an altered version of anti-zoo propaganda is so powerful when it comes to limiting the negative reactions from the piece. A lot of times, you'll even end up seeing the positive one first, before the negative eventually gets sent to you as a reply and you end up thinking, "Oh hey, I know where that's from!" Transforming hatred into positivity not only kills the hatred, but gives us so much more in return. 
Now, I want to make something clear. It's not always going to be possible to take this approach. Sometimes you aren't in the mood, sometimes there's just not a great opportunity. By no means can you, or even should you laugh your way through every situation. Take this all as a tool at your disposal, something you can think about in addition to the block button. 
I just wanted to mention all this because I think sometimes we take ourselves too seriously. Myself included. It's hard not feeling like the fight for zoosexual rights is us against the world. An epic plight where we struggle to carve out a place where we can live our lives with our partners. But sometimes it's just as important to send a hate message to a friend so you both can have a blast laughing about how utterly fourteen someone would have to be to think they're cool sending you a reaction gif of Sonic the Hedgehog telling you to kill yourself.
Because at the end of the day, even the situation itself is kind of comical. You're two people on the internet, total strangers who more than likely are never going to be anything more than a profile to each other. And yet, this person is so offended by your existence that they felt the need to spend their time creating a whole new Twitter account just to call themselves "ZoophileHater420", just to send you one or two messages, and then get banned. I don't know about you, but frankly I find that hilarious.
So the next time you're getting trolled online, take a step back and see if there's a way to turn their spite into something that you can have fun with. Because sometimes the best thing to do with hate is just to laugh. 
Keep laughing dear readers, see you again soon! 
Article written by Tarro (July 2023)
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