I remember thinking the only thing I wanted from Facebook was videos of animals who were unbearably cute or performed great acts of kindness.
So I “liked,” “followed,” and “subscribed” to pages that featured dogs (often huskies, German shepherds and Great Pyrenees), donkeys (simple burros my favorite) and mother cats who nursed orphaned baby rabbits.
I’d discovered that Facebook pages dealing with politics, religion and sports generally were populated by partisan hotheads who’d rather reach through the screen and hit you with a mallet than accept viewpoints.
Nuanced discussion was out. You were either fer ’em or against ’em.
Never miss a local story.
One by one I blocked firebrands-on-soapboxes so I could concentrate on more pleasant things like the three adult zoo elephants who’d helped the baby ’phant navigate a barrier and find its way home.
That was such a heart-warming illustration of my point of view — that animals were largely superior in most every way to humans — I would’ve stood up and cheered had I not been in a courtroom.
I looked at like-minded Facebook pages as a place to get away from the grim realities of war, poverty and paralyzing angst over a quarterback’s tragic lack of poise in long-yardage situations.
I listened to NPR on the way home, and by the time I’d made it to the Suburban 500, I had nothing left for ISIS, Syria-Iraq-Iran-Egypt-Palestine, or Ebola.
I needed an escape.
For a time, it was nirvana. There were videos of a dog trained to wipe its paws on the mat before coming in; a turtle who could climb a fence; a cat who perched on a guitar and nuzzled while a girl sang and played.
There was an entire video of a Welsh Corgi lying on its back, eyes closed and totally silent, while being massaged — slowly up one paw, down another, behind both ears, up and around its tummy and eventually to its tail, a point by which it had reached a comatose state we mortals only dream of.
There was that unbelievably sweet Malamute puppy howling while its mother talked to it, seemingly offering encouragement; a page called “Lil’ Bub’s Purrgles” devoted to a cat — that would be Lil’ Bub — who purred with its mouth open and tongue out, no doubt making gurgling noises; and the classic video of Snaggle Puss, the mama cat who walks over and carries an orphaned baby rabbit named Bubbles by the neck to place it in her litter of nursing kittens.
Who could return to the reality of the nightly newscasts after seeing something like that?
What scared me about animal videos was the class of posters worse off than me. I merely “liked” pages and watched things posted by people whose tastes jibed with mine. This other class actually went to websites specializing in that kind of thing to bring back more and more cute little films for the rest of us.
The catch was they were addicted, and as a result, less picky.
I think once you’ve seen a cat chasing a wind-up mouse around the floor or a Labrador retriever feinting, cutting and otherwise playing possum with a deer, you don’t want to spoil it with a second, third or fourth rendition of the same basic thing.
That might sound snooty, but I think of myself as a different breed of animal, one who knows how much to feather his nest.
Have a tale to share about animal videos and cuteness as bromides for world suffering? Write me at email@example.com.