A growing number of people choose to avoid scrolling through social media news feeds – and for good reason. As human divisions increase, many of us choose to log in and head straight for the rabbit-owner forums where discussions of interest are occurring 24 hours a day. Sadly, it seems as though conflict is finding its way into our rabbit communities, too. We can do better.
A recent conflict I witnessed in a social media group had to do with words which are used differently in different countries. What could have been an education for those who were not informed became harsh comments that were rude and unnecessary. The discussion was about neutering and spaying (rabbit altering). The details of that particular conversation are not important. However, it proved how the tiniest difference can spark unnecessary debate and conflict.
Rabbit alterations are often referred to in a number of ways, including: desexed, castrated, fixed, spayed, neutered, chopped (ugh!) and otherwise. Here in the United States, most people are taught that does (females) are spayed and bucks (males) are neutered. Or, we speak in generalities and say that we “alter” or “fix” our pets.
Let’s say you live in the U.S. and are talking to someone overseas about your female rabbit. You might decide he has no useful advice after he asks you if your female rabbit has been neutered. You correct him by saying that females are spayed – not neutered. He does not appreciate your correction and things go south from there. You quickly learn that he lives in a country where it is common to say that females are neutered.
Education and Expertise
Think about educating inexperienced rabbit owners who ask for help. Of course, we want to get them credible information as quickly as possible. After all, a rabbit can become quite ill when problems are not immediately addressed. Education does occur and much information is shared. However, conflicts arise frequently because so many people believe their expertise is superior to everyone else’s. How do we avoid these problems?
First we must accept some realities about rabbit care “expertise”. In the world of rabbits, the word “expert” is (and should be) used somewhat loosely. In fact, a vast amount of information about these animals remains unknown. Extensive research reveals that long-term studies specific to rabbits are also lacking. Rabbit “experts” gain their experiences in a myriad of ways. Some of the best experts are those who are long-term rabbit owners (and rescuers) who provide hands-on, day-to-day care to their own house rabbits.
The energy we bring to a rabbit-owner group or forum matters – a lot. Lecturing someone who is asking for help puts negativity into what could have been a great conversation thread (in other words, be nice). If someone is asking for assistance, it makes no sense to attack or belittle them. It is off-putting and just perpetuates a problem that is already too common in our world.
By taking responsibility of our individual contributions, we can educate others. We can ignore people who are harsh or purport to know more than everyone else. We can realize that differences exist, but it is better to find commonalities, gently correct misunderstandings and place our focus on positive progress rather than than negativity.
Rabbit owners join online groups and forums to exchange best care practice information and see images that make us smile. By doing our part as individuals to keep conflicts from erupting, every participant and every animal will benefit.
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