On Twitter

I turn the keys to my house and immediately hear a scamper of paws from behind the door. I open it, slowly and carefully to avoid a collision and then walk in. My partner greets me, excited to have me home from wherever he thinks I go all day. I kick off my shoes, take off my jacket, and trudge over to the couch where I collapse onto its soft cushions. It was another long day at a job I don't like. Within seconds, my phone is in my hand. I enter my password and then open up Twitter. 20 notifications. I guess something I said resonated with people. I can feel my brain get excited. Maybe I gained a bunch of followers. Maybe a big account retweeted me. Maybe something really incredible happened.
I hear my partner trod over, hopping up on the couch next to me. He huffs. 
I flick my thumb along the screen to scan the notifications. It takes less than a second to read each reply. “Kill yourself” “Animal rapist” “I hope you die”. I sigh. That makes up most of the responses. The others are from an argument between two people I don't know, fighting about consent. I think about adding my own thoughts, but I choose not to. I know it's not worth it. Instead, I press home to look at my feed. There’s a few tweets from other zoos, talking about their life, making jokes. It's nice. For a minute, I feel connected to something bigger than I am. All these other people just like me are out there living their lives. I might not know any of them, but the fact they exist makes me feel less alone. I read a tweet about the community, and how strong we are, and how great it is to be a zoo. My heart swells. I feel proud. I retweet it, before scrolling down further. The next tweet is about how 13 people were just killed in a shooting. The next that the death toll in the war is up another thousand. The feeling of pride is replaced by something else. There's something else to think about now. 
My partner lays on the couch beside me, looking at me. I know he wants something, and I want to give it to him, I just want to finish checking in on social media first. It'll be quick. It just takes a second. 
A notification pops up. A direct message. I open it. Someone wants to “debate me.” They say that they aren't sure about zoos, but they want to talk about it. A smile crosses my face. This is it, exactly why I'm here. It's a chance to actually change someone’s mind. To make a difference. My fingers fly across the keyboard, typing out my reply. 
“Sure, what did you want to talk about?” I ask.
“Why do you rape animals?” They reply. 
“Oh, uh, I don’t rape animals. Me and my partner have loving, consensual sex.” 
“But animals can’t consent.” 
“Well actually...
My partner whines beside me, but I can’t look away. This is my chance. I type and type and type. I explain about animal autonomy, give some examples of consent in every day situations. I even find some links to other animal professionals talking about the importance of consent with animals. Surely they'll find all this informative!
Less than a second goes by and they reply. It's a meme of some anime character with "kill yourself" partially cropped out on the bottom. I start to reply, but a second later I lose the chance. I'm blocked. I take a deep breath. Can't win them all I guess. I'm about to put down my phone when another notification comes in. 
 It’s someone replying to one of my tweets.
“Dogs don’t enjoy sex, they only do it out of instinct!”
I should probably reply. I mean, that's just factually incorrect information. It's as simple as linking another study. I swap to google, I type in "do dogs en..." Autofill does the rest. This is far from the first time I've searched for this. I find the link, and paste it into the reply. I add some context along with it. It’s thoughtful, it’s compassionate, it’s well written. It’s three times too long to fit in the span of a tweet. I delete some, and then more, and then more. It’s finally short enough to fit the confines of this platform, but it’s no longer really saying what I want it to say. I think about it for a second, and then send it anyway. 
My partner whines again, this time louder. I can feel his eyes on me. "Just a minute, almost done..." I say to myself as much as him. My eyes don't leave my phone.
In the time it takes to reassure him, another notification comes in. Is it their reply to mine? I click it, excited to see what they have to say to my link.
"Lmao, I'm not reading that."
I can feel my stress building. I wonder to myself, if I could have sent my original message, would that have made a difference? Or even more than that. If I could sit down this stranger, get a coffee together, shoot the shit, would they be more willing to listen? 
I get mad. Not at them, at myself. I know there's some perfect combination of letters and words that might have convinced them some way to frame it. Some amazing example, or exact formula. There has to be a way. All I need to do is show them who I am, how happy my partner is, how much I love him.
I know I can do it. It's not that simple though. I have to do it. It's not a choice. There's so many other zoos out there that are struggling. That need help. If I don't do it, who will?
I flip back to the home page. I tap to make a new tweet. This is it. I can feel the creative energy flowing in my head. This is my chance to speak to the world. If I can just say the right thing I can go viral. I can spread the message across the whole planet. I can make the world a better place for everyone like me. I smile, before...
Nothing. No idea comes to mind. I don't know what to say. I panic. I'm a writer. An idea person. I need to say something. But not just something. The perfect thing. The thing that fixes everything. I stare at the blinking cursor. The letters that will form the words that change the world. They remain letters. I'm failing. I'm letting everyone down. I'm letting myself down. I'm letting my partner down. I feel myself being sucked down into a dark, empty void where nothing exists. I stare at my screen and nothing happens. No new notifications, no new DMs. Just nothing.
My partner places his head on my arm and whines again, looking up at me. He looks sad. Concerned. Tired. Stressed. His expression mirrors my own. He knows something's wrong, but he doesn't know what. I certainly wouldn't know how to explain it to him. He's worried. But not about the tweet, not about the world. He's worried about me. I take a deep breath, and put down my phone. 
“Hey, sorry...” 
My voice is filled with shame, but quickly, his eyes lighten and his tail starts to wag against the cushions. A smile forces its way to my face. I lean down to give his head a kiss. He wags faster. My smile grows. 
“Did you want to go for a walk?”
He quickly stands up, looking at me excitedly before pacing towards the door. I stand and follow him. I put on my shoes and reach for the door when I hear a chime. It's my phone. I left it on the couch. I take a step towards it but then stop myself. Whatever it is can wait. There's something more important to do. I turn back around and open the door and my partner runs through it, immediately stopping to smell the flowers outside. I follow behind him. 
I feel happy. 
There are so many problems in the world. Especially for zoos. But spending all day every day connected to platforms where all you see is negativity isn’t going to help solve those problems. Social media absolutely has its uses when it comes to spreading our message. But trying to engage with people that have no interest in hearing your side of the story is only going to wear you down. Don’t forget to take the time to appreciate the things that you do have. The best way you can advocate for zoophiles and zoosexuals everywhere is to live a happy and fulfilled life, and to make the lives of humans and animals around you better. 
Article written by Tarro (May 2023) 
Questions, comments or concerns? Check out our Discord server! http://discord.gg/EfVTPh45RE