Some things are utterly, unavoidably, unforgivably* preposterous.
Celebrity Wife Swap.
Sienna‘s viral video.
But wait a second. Sienna didn’t have a viral video. Not exactly.**
No. Sienna had a series of viral still shots.
Don’t believe me? Just click.
It all started innocently enough. One of our volunteers — one of our best, most favorite, coolest and raddest volunteers, who is in no way responsible for what followed — posted Sienna’s photos on Imgur. If, like me, you are a dunderhead and have never heard of Imgur, Imgur is a thing-sharing site, on which people share things. And also stuff. Now you know.
So Innocent Volunteer Who Shall Remain Unnamed shared Sienna’s photos.
“Aw, cute!” said ten or twelve or forty people.
“Aw, poor kitty!” shouted ninety or two hundred or six hundred people.
“Aw, she’s trapped behind the glass! This is SO SAD OH MY GURSH WAHHH!” wailed a thousand or two thousand or ten thousand people.
“I NEED TO ADOPT HER AND I AM GOING TO CALL TABBY’S PLACE TODAY DRAMA DRAMA DRAMAAAAHHH!!!!!!!” shrieked forty thousand or three hundred thousand or well over half a million people.
Over half a million people, people.
I am not exaggerating. Over half a million people — 626,141 at last count, to be precise — yes, literally — viewed Sienna. They commented. They wept and wailed and gnashed their teeth. They convinced themselves and convinced each other and convinced everyone from Brian Williams to Flava Flav that Sienna was in a situation sadder than a stick bug stuck in slime.
And then…then they called Tabby’s Place.
They all called Tabby’s Place.
They were going to adopt Sienna. They were going to “save” Sienna.
From Texas. From Canada. From Amsterdam. (Once again, not exaggerating.)
Sienna’s viral un-video became our vigorous full-time job.
A few of them — emphasis on few — came to Tabby’s Place to meet Her Viralness. Sienna dutifully pawed at the glass, all frantic and dancey, for them. Then they went into her suite, and Sienna did what she does when you enter her suite.
She ignored them and continued to paw at the glass.
And then they learned the truth that photos can’t quite tell: Sienna is, in fact, happy pawing at the glass.
Sienna is, in fact, loved and fed and glad at Tabby’s Place.
Sienna is not, in fact, attempting to escape a velociraptor/Adam/Vladimir Putin.
Sienna is not, in fact, desperately digging for pity and mercy and weeping and gnashing of teeth.
And Sienna does not, in fact, particularly want you to touch her.
She’s just doing her thing.
There is nothing sad about Sienna.
And that’s where things got strange.
Once people started to realize that Sienna wasn’t sad/stuck/fixin’ to diiiiiie, they started clicking elsewhere.
This wasn’t really about Sienna.
This wasn’t really about Tabby’s Place.
This wasn’t really about anything…real.
Now I hear you, kittens: yes, this attention is all good.
Yes, we’re all for cats catching imaginations from coast to coast to Amsterdam.
Yes, we’re all for touching hearts with any fingers we can. (That sounded completely inappropriate. Never mind.)
Yes, we’re grateful for the opened-fire-hydrant-blast of goodwill and the trickle of donations.
But Sienna, I must note, has not, in fact, been adopted.
So what does all this mean?
It means there’s a lot of love out there.
It means there are a lot of people who dare to let their souls be touched and moved and shaken and stirred.
It means we are, none of us, alone in having dangerously-soft hearts.
Those are all good things.
What does it mean in the rubber-hitting-the-road world of mundane things, adoptions and litter scooping and changes that count?
I’m not sure. We talk and muse and mutter about these things to no end. It seems that the People Of Viral Frenzy and the People Of Real-World Action sometimes exist in two non-overlapping orbits. With apologies to Shakespeare and Faulkner, it can seem like the real “sound and fury signifying nothing” is social media.
And just when we think we’ve got that all unlocked, one of the People Of Social Media goes and surprises us with something really, righteously real.
So the honest answer is, we don’t know if viral things can be more than vacuous. Social media is still in its infancy. The landscape is changing so quickly we’d be bloody fools to issue any proclamations about its potential. We just don’t know.
What we do know: ten trillion viral vanities can’t capture the essence of a single cat — not completely. Love is not about the flash in the pan or the stars in the eyes so much as what’s been called the “long obedience in the same direction.”
The one who loves the real Sienna, for real, sturdy reasons, won’t need the viral frenzy.
They won’t feast on drama.
They’ll just see one sometimes-feisty, often-inscrutable, always-beautiful cat who loves to paw on glass, tolerates human affection, and is utterly perfect, even if not always Internet-ready.
And they’ll get the glory that glows and grows. Long may she be loved.
***Housekeeping note: Next week, I shall be out of the office. Why? Because I shall be ferrying Sienna to the Netherlands, then riding my unicorn to Spain with Marcus Mumford while working on his campaign to become the first British President of the United States (campaign slogan: “I Have Been Blessed With A Wilder Mind Than Donald Trump”). Either that, or visiting family in the Poconos. Haven’t decided yet.
What this means for you: if you have any cat questions, please contact Jonathan. If you have any blog questions, please contact Jonathan. If you have any questions about ontology or epistemology, definitely contact Jonathan. Jonathan will also be bringing you a guest post. If past experience is any preview, I can only say…don’t read it right after breakfast. We’ll also have a special guest post from a special guest poster. And, no, I’m not going to tell you who that is.
Fare thee well, kittens. See you in later July.
*When Clint Eastwood conceived of the film ‘Unforgiven,’ it was originally about a renegade vegan cheese maker. This is a true fact, except for the parts I made up.
**Actually, that’s a whole ‘nother irony.
After Sienna’s photos caught fire, we thought it would be swell to post a video too. “Surely,” said we, “if the stills made people go swoony, THE VIDEO WILL MAKE THEM ‘SPLODE WITH ‘CITEMENT!”
“Bollocks,” said the internet, which collectively proceeded to ignore said video.
But if you care, and would like to thumb your nose at the rest of the internet, here’s that poor neglected video.