I Got Defriended over a Dead Elephant.

Via Lynn Hasselberger
on Aug 6, 2012
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Guilty as charged: I posted a photo of a dead elephant on my facebook page.

(Not the one above.)

I love elephants and all other creatures, large and small. Alive or dead, I suppose. And I have this need to protect them as if they’re my children. If humans don’t protect them, who will?

So I put up a post about African elephants being killed in an awful, inhumane fashion just for ivory then left to die. Trunks shorn off. It’s disturbing. Quite.

With that photo was a petition from SOS Elephants that I hoped people would sign to stop this killing.

Sure, I could have put up a cute photo of an elephant for the awww factor. Like this one.

It would’ve made sense, since many baby elephants are orphaned when their parent(s) are massacred.


{Warning: disturbing image ahead.}

Instead, I chose the disturbing photo of a once beautiful now dead elephant lying in a pool of blood, trunk just… gone.

Photo: SOS elephants

And thus began the end of my friendship with a guy, Mark, on facebook. Here’s what he said:

I don’t appreciate you putting a dead elephant in my timeline. I am de-friending you. I will also de-friend “friends” who put pictures of dead animals, dieing animals or animals being tortured in my timeline.

To which I replied:

Sorry you feel that way, Mark. It is a very disturbing photo.

And Mark said:

That’s my point. Stop retraumatizing people with your disturbing images.
Well, just in time, another guy friend, Michael, posted this:
I actually think Mark has the right idea. Hear no evil, see no evil. That way all of us Americans can just continue to live our blissfully arrogant lives #wtf Lynn, thank you for letting me know about this issue. Unfortunately, most of us, including me, have such radically reduced attention spans, I may not have even read it completely if it weren’t for the picture. I shared it on four social media accounts. Thanks for all the work you do!
And, of course, I had to say…
Thanks, Michael! ♥
And apparently, Mark the Defriender wasn’t quite done with me yet, because he wrote:

Yes let’s all all complete our collections of violence porn.

To which Michael replied so eloquently:

Mark, so you’re jerking off to this, or you think I am? I think I’ll bow out of this argument now.

And with that, Mark was gone.

Whoever the heck he was. I didn’t know know him.

He’s not the first or the last person to defriend me, but he was my very first public facebook defriendship.

I’ve had family defriend me. Two different family members, in fact. I guess I posted too much or things they didn’t like—or both. And you know what? That honestly hurt. Maybe it’s not so much the fact they defriended me but the way they did it. Without even telling me they were going to. I just figured it out one day. When I asked one person, they said I posted too much stuff from elephant journal. Their loss. The other one, who I was once close to, never really gave me a straightforward answer and has since fallen off the face of the earth in real life, too. That really bums me out. But I am who I am. It happened. Nothin’ I can do about it.

Have I ever felt like defriending anyone?

Yes! In fact, a friend from high school whose views are off-the-charts opposing to mine on just about everything you could imagine. She’s a devout Christian, I’m Spiritual but Not Religious. (She told me once years ago I’d be going to hell unless I was a Christian like her, in the same exact religion.) She despises Obama. She said so on her facebook page. I would jump the man’s bones if I could (and my husband knows it). He may not be the perfect leader, but he’s better than the last one and a better choice over Mitt. She thinks man-made climate change is a myth. I don’t.

We had an argument about Obamacare today on her facebook page today. She thinks it’s all bad, I gave her the link to “A Bunch of Random Facts You May Not Know About Obamacare” but was also diplomatic (in my humble opinion) in pointing out there are, no doubt, pros and cons to the Affordable Healthcare Act. I also said if I knew all the answers about how to reform healthcare, I would be considered genius material. She continued to act like the expert. I finally reminded her that she didn’t believe me back in high school when I tried to convince her that a raisin is a dried grape. Needless to say, I departed the conversation after giving it one or two iotas too many of my precious energy. She thinks she’s 100 percent right and I think we’re both probably right. There’s some gray area. Some good and some bad.

I’ll defriend people if it really becomes necessary—like the time someone posted obscene naked photos right on my facebook page.

I didn’t know know that person.

But, unless I defriend someone in real life (somewhat rare), I won’t defriend friends of the present or past or family, even if they have opposing views, post too much or just post dumb stuff. Opposing views are invaluable. Without them, aren’t we just living in our safe boxes listening to people who think just like us? And what if we’re wrong?

Note: For those of you who think I post too much on facebook, you can just hide my posts from your timeline.

I certainly questioned my choice of the elephant photo after being chastised by Mark, but others thought it was fine so I left it alone. Brianna (fellow elephant editor and columnist extraordinaire) said something to the effect that we gotta put the truth out there and sometimes it’s just not gonna be pleasant. In fact, she suggested I write about being defriended because of a dead elephant photo (thanks, Bri!).

Hopefully you won’t defriend me over it or other stuff you may not like. And if you do, I’ll try not to take it personally.

Have you ever been defriended? What was that like? What are some reasons you would defriend someone? Please share your story!

Like elephant journal on facebook.


About Lynn Hasselberger

Lynn Hasselberger is co-founder of GDGD Radio; The Green Divas Managing Editor; and Producer of The Green Divas Radio Show. She's also a mom, writer and award-winning cat-herder who lives in Chicagoland. Sunrises, running, yoga, lead-free chocolate and comedy are just a few of her fave things. In her rare moments of spare time, she blogs at myEARTH360.com and LynnHasselberger.com. A treehugger and social media addict, you'll most likely find Lynn on twitter (@LynnHasselbrgr @GreenDivaLynn & @myEARTH360), instagram and facebook. She hopes to make the world a better place, have more fun, re-develop her math skills and overcome her fear of public speaking. Like her writing? Subscribe to her posts.


35 Responses to “I Got Defriended over a Dead Elephant.”

  1. ManifestYogaJen says:

    love this.

  2. Paul Carey says:

    I might do the same.
    My page is not available to others to advertise causes, merchandise, events or anything else, whether I support them or not.

    I'm grateful for FB's latest definition that allows one's page to be unavailable for posting

  3. Stephanie says:

    Continue to be bold and post what matters to you. It's inevitable that many will be turned off. You can't edit the truth to keep from offending people too fragile to face it.

  4. Love this Lynn. I've defriended very few people. Usually someone I didn't know well who decided to be spammy and post tons of random stuff on my page, and—just once—someone who turned out to be a bit unstable/stalkerish (is that a word?). I agree, opposing views are invaluable. They help sharpen our own perspectives and teach us if we are willing to be open minded.

  5. Jokey Cola says:

    I think you should really look at the message you want to communicate as well as your audience when selecting a photo. Are you looking to change someone's mind on an issue, or enlighten them to something of which they were not aware of before? Then using the grim and graphic photo right off the bat is probably going to drive away the people that you want to reach, and you may end up just preaching to the choir. Start with a more enticing photo first, then show the one of the dead elephant. Now, if you want to raise money from people who are already familiar with this issue and want to donate to an organization like PETA or SPCA, then showing the grim photo at the start may be more effective.

  6. That's a very good point, Jokey. Thanks for the comment!

  7. Thanks Kate! Spammy would definitely be a reason to defriend. When I was a facebook newbie, I may have actually been spammy not knowing the protocol and being all excited about my new biz—thinking everyone would be as excited as me.

  8. True! Guess it could go either way. Athough a cute photo of an elephant may have gotten more views… or less. Hard to say! Thanks for reading, Stephanie, and taking the time to comment. Cheers!

  9. Thanks for taking the time to commment, Paul. Cheers!

  10. Candice says:

    Um, I have defriended people for violent images. Not people I "know" or interact with, because that' different, but honestly, I really really REALLY don't like these images on my facebook newsfeed. And the reason why is this: there is no warning. It's all "ooh Shannon got married, and Layla had her baby girl and hahaha that's a funny meme" and then with no warning is a photo of a man standing on a baby, a human baby, with one foot on her pelvis and one on her chest and the infant is obviously screaming. And I can never un-see that, ever. It's an image burned into my brain. And no, there wasn't any article with it, just the photo that someone found and was outraged at. I have seen enough PETA videos that I don't need to see any more, really. I'm not ignorant, I just don't want to expose my mind to any more of that. (I am a 10+ year vegetarian as well). So I think there are two sides to that story and how people feel about it, and each has merit.

  11. Lynn Bonelli says:

    I posted the same picture after I signed the petition. I know I’ve been hidden or ‘unfriended’ by just a few people because of my posts (not because of this picture per se but none have been bold enough to state their reasons. I post things that are important to me, things that move me and things that maybe I wasn’t aware of until I saw a similar post on my own wall (it is after all, MY wall). My ‘friends’ are free to hide my posts and/or scan past them and just not read them. I did it Aug 1st with all of the Chick-fil-A posts (friends ‘proudly’ waiting in line for 2 hours to then posting about how delicious their crappy fast food sandwich tasted). Like Katie, I’ve defriended one person who was being crazy and acting like a stalker (I wanted to get a restraining order because she lives in my town too). It was a dangerous situation. But, I pretty much tolerate my friends posts because they are free to post what they want on their own walls too. Every once in a while we get into a debate, but we act like adults (for the most part) and can still part friends who just disagree on some things. If I defriended everyone who had a different opinion than me I might only have 2 friends left!!

  12. Barbara says:

    These visuals may disturb some more than others. I am a raging animal rights activist, however, I choose NOT to look at such photos. They are too disturbing to me and I cannot erase them from my memory. I am haunted by them. If they are on my FB news feed, I have no choice but to visualize as I scroll through. It's not like there's a warning. I did have a "friend" post an animal abuse awareness photo. It was a picture of a dead dog laying in a pool of blood. It was so disturbing to so many, he finally deleted the post. I personally do not think it helps in the prevention. It's likely that your audience are your "friends" and have similar awareness and value system, therefore, "preaching to the choir" as said above. I would suggest an informative article with statistics and facts as to what is going on, rather than a shocking picture posted on facebook that I feel further disrespects the life of the animal. Thanks for reading my humble opinion, Barb
    Compassion for animals is intimately connected with goodness of character; and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man. – Schopenhauer

  13. Great quote, Barbara. Your humble opinion is important and appreciated. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment! Cheers!

  14. Ha! So true, Lynn. And what would the world be like if we all had the same opinion about everything. Facebook and all social media has proven to be an amazing tool to open up conversations we may never have even considered broaching in the past. Sure, it can also turn people off but oh well. We just have to follow our passion (unless it involves something like stalking!) and not worry about pleasing everyone all the time. Cheers!

  15. Now that is super disturbing, Candice, and I guess everyone has their level of tolerance. Worth considering for future posts. Thanks for commenting. Cheers to you!

  16. Lauren says:

    I saw your picture Lynn B and I still love you!!! Honestly…I can't even start in on this debate about the blind eye our society turns to everything that isn't shiny or glittery in this world. Ignorance abounds…

    Lynn H, you're better off without him. There's a saying…"stand for something or fall for everything" my point, you'll never win them all over, and if you're not pissing off or turning off a few folks out there, we'll maybe you're just not doing it right.

    Post on, Ma'am!!! In fact, I might have to friend you now.

  17. JJJ says:

    Here is the way that I see it. When I post on FB, I'm posting to 'my page' things that interest me and things that will likely interest most of my audience in some way. And, I only post things that I want to open up for discussion or dialogue.

    When people friend me on FB, they have an option: subscribing. You see, i'm not posting to "their" fb pages. I'm posting to "mine" and it shows up in "their" feed. But they control their feed, so they can choose — if they like — to unsubscribe. I have kept friends but unsubscribed to feeds because I didn't like what they had to say. Not necessarily the idea itself (i.e., "I hate obamacare") but that when I would open the discussion on it from that line, it would get "shut down" with vitriol, and I knew that I couldn't keep myself from correcting misinformation then receiving the vitriol.

    So, I unsubscribed to avoid the temptation.

    And, I've had friends who have politely done the same with me. I'm an advocate for keeping boys intact. I put a lot of articles on my page about it. I want the mommies in my circles to see the value of protecting their sons from circumcision. So, I post. I had a male friend — whose children are grown and have all the grandchildren they are planning on having — say that he was still there, but unsubscribing because he didn't need so many circumcision articles in his feed. We had a laugh about it, and every birthday he wishes me "Happy birthday and I hope this year you save 10,000 penises!" So, he supports me, but didn't want to see it, you know?

    We can control a lot of things in our lives — including how we use and view FB, and how we use and view it. For me, it's a valuable tool for keeping in touch with friends and family. I love seeing everyone's babies, their crafts, their daily lives, their rants. And yes, their abused dogs and dead elephants. It's cool to have a cause.

    Just don't hold it too precious. It's up for discussion.

  18. @BextahWah says:

    See, now I just want to be your friend on facebook

  19. tweetgeistguy says:

    I Don't Know If The Terminology Is Correct Anymore, But My Human Buddy Has Always Assumed That His Wall Is HIS Wall. End Of Story. Seeing Something In A Timeline That Is A Collection Of Posts Is DIFFERENT Than Someone Actually Going To A Person's Page (I'll Call Him Mark) & Posting Something There. MYHB Posts Birthday Songs On His Friend's Timelines & The Only One Who Complained (Or Was Teenager Indifferent?) Was His Niece. Long Story Short – Good Job. But Don't Visit My Wall & Put A Dead Anything. Your Wall That Happens To Be My Timeline Is Fine. Also…No Tea Party Or Even Ron Paul Stuff On My Wall, Though I Wouldn't Jump His Bones. Is This Full Yet? 😉

  20. Well said, JJJ. Thanks for the comment and have a great day!

  21. Dearbhla says:

    I'm a little confused, are you more concerned about being de-friended or about the fate of elephants?

  22. Guest says:

    I recently defriended two people after both have liked or shared child abuse several times. You have probably seen the stories where some child does some mistake, usually involving Facebook. Then a parent is in some form publicly humiliating the child and posting it on Facebook as well. I hate seeing crying and humiliated children in my news and the deed promoted by my Facebook friends "Yeah! Way to go! Touch love today spares them years in prison later on!" There is no cause I can support, no people I can change. I just did not want to see it anymore. As those friends were not close anyway, I unfriended them.

  23. cathy says:

    I agree Barbara.. I have blanked out info from people on Fb who insist on showing images of torture or 'in your face cruelty to people or animals". I cannot get those images out of my mind and it does nto exhort me to do more.. it hurts my head.

  24. Sarah says:

    I have defriended people in the past but only because I get very overwhelmed and anxious when I have too many people on my friends list. This may seem silly to some people but it's a real experience for me. If I don't communicate with someone on Facebook or in real life, I will sometimes defriend them. I mean no disrespect and I hope they don't take it personally. I have also been on the receiving end of a defriending for no apparent reason but again, we never or rarely communicated and I was ok with it. I think because social media is still so new, we haven't really nailed down the cultural norms and etiquette of it.

    As for the dead elephant picture, I can sort of see where Mark is coming from though I wouldn't have reacted as he did. (And also I think he's confusing 'timeline' with 'newsfeed') As an HSP (highly sensitive person), disturbing images that I'm not expecting can be incredibly unsettling for me and can throw off my emotional equilibrium. I was actively involved in the animal rights world for many years and I've seen all the pictures and read all the reports and stats and for that reason, I don't feel the need to subject myself to that anymore. I do still believe in the cause though and do what I can in terms of donations, signing petitions, etc. So I will definitely sign that petition that you mentioned. I don't think there is any right answer to this dilemma. As your friend Michael said, without the photo he might not have noticed that petition in the reams of info in his newsfeed. You can't please everyone so we all just do the best we can. 🙂

  25. Susanna says:

    I could have written this same article! Not lost any friends yet, but I know I could if I got any more passionate about things than I already am. About elephants in particular: I've decided – I hate what happens to elephants too, but it's too much of a stab in our day, and we can't do anything about it because it's happened, and they are dead and it was horrible. So…. I've decided to post THAT it's going on, encourage people to not get guilty about not doing anything, but just to be AWARE. I post updates on political advances and upcoming world meetings to show people are doing something about it. Then, I post what we little people on the other side of the world CAN do about it, or …yet, post CUTE. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust – https://www.facebook.com/thedswt – is an orphanage for baby elephants. The work they do is amazingly positive. They post pictures of cute babies in colorful blankets, they post pictures of elephant rescues, orphan diaries, and they ask you to sponsor an elephant. People do so in droves. They exclaim "That my Balguda!" when they see a picture of their foster ele. The site keeps up to date. But they ask for donations every day. And they have other things going on – trucks of anti poaching teams. So they use "cute" to solicit donations, and I'm betting it works. Over time I figure – it's easier for me also to stay engaged and cheerful about the cause, than to be steeped in the horror. So I've decided, I'm not watching war movies, but I know war exists. I'm not looking at videos about elephants if I suspect there are going to panoramas of a slaughter because I know it exists. But I AM going to foster a baby elephant, and post them all day long in their little cute blankets, because that's how the money is going to get to Africa, in the hands of a group that is doing the right thing, and knows all about the reality, the ugliness, and how to stop poaching in their area. And that's what I can do to make a difference. So I'm posting cute to get the best results for these heros in Africa.

  26. Guest says:

    I find myself asking “where do you or we define the line of appropriateness of FB pics?” Is it okay to post dead pictures of animals but not of humans? why or why not? Honest question. I have some friends who are very sensitive about animals as well and out of respect I would never post such photos. I also like animals a lot and know others who hunt them or mistreat them and I don’t like seeing their hunting pics on FB. It’s mainly one friend who does this. I also see many pictures of hurt or disfigured children these days on FB to promote some message of some type and I also find this tactic distasteful. I also see this in some news programs or infomercials that ask for donations. I think people can get a message without having to see a dead or disfigured body- human or animal but I do think it is okay in documentaries or certain media that do offer warnings beforehand. I think making a post with a warning to a link to the photo and article is what I would do.

  27. […] I am also Facebook friends with Alanna Kaivalya. I have met her several times and we are both writers, but the last time I saw her I said, “Hey Alanna,” and she gave me a look that said very clearly, “we are not friends.” […]

  28. Susan says:

    I would not defriend someone who consistently posted pictures of abused children, animals, etc unless that is all that they posted. I would just unsubscribe from seeing their posts. Like someone else said, I am also very sensitive when I see those pictures and can't get them out of my mind. If a page did that too often I would definitely unlike them.

  29. Just enjoy writing about life experiences. That's what I do 🙂 I care more about the elephants than whether I get defriended over them. The actual defriending made great convo, so I blogged it up. Thanks for the comment!

  30. […] written about the cruel slaughter of elephants (and was even defriended over it) and am fascinated by these majestic creatures. My dream is to meet one in the […]

  31. Zmijka says:

    Excellent article! I am so sorry about about animals on our planet, I am sorry for us human not taking care of them. Thank you for raising awareness, great blog btw, should you have any environment or animal love meetings in the Chicago area I would gladly attend.

  32. Lauren says:

    I've been defriended over circumcision. I posted a video of a baby being intubated because of circumcision, and the words I used were, "This isn't a life saving surgery. This is genital mutilation." I posted it from my phone, while my husband and I were staying in a cabin with his best friend, that friend's wife, and their (circumcised) baby. They took it personally.

    Well, huge fiasco later (wherein my husband's best friends of twenty years completely cut me off, and my husband defends me, and they cut him off too…), we're still not okay. I haven't spoken to them since, and it doesn't look like those friendships will ever be repaired. Do I regret the fact that a friendship was damaged? Yes, absolutely, without question. Do I regret posting it, when I did and with the words that I used? No, absolutely not. I still believe it to be true. I know that no less than four facebook friends have seen my post, done more research, and decided not to circumcise their children. For me, that means it was the right thing to do.

    I am also passionate about animal welfare, human sexuality, marriage equality, the abuse of children, etc. And yes, I post articles about these issues. I share knowledge and opinion, because I feel that it's my duty to do so. If one person thinks twice about something because I posted an article, I feel satisfied.

    I've been told I post too many things, or that the things I post are too controversial, or that I should use Facebook for photos (but better not put up too many…) and for staying in contact with family and friends. And you know what? I do use it for that. But facebook is also an amazingly powerful tool for communication, collaboration, and interaction. I use it because I value the deep, meaningful, and revelatory conversations I have with people from all walks of life, and people of every political persuasion. I use it to change minds and to have my mind changed. To share and find information. To speak out and to listen. I enjoy having my opinions challenged, and nothing sparks my inner light more than an engaging and truly intelligent debate. I get energized by it.

    I was offended and saddened, at first, when I was defriended. If I'm truly upset by something someone posts, I scroll past it. If it seems like a direct attack on me, I address them directly, in a private message. I have only deleted one person, who was belligerent not only to me, but to my friends as well. I put up with him for a long, long time, until not one but four of my friends individually sent me messages saying that as long as he was able to comment on my posts, they wouldn't be engaging in the conversation. So, I deleted him. I also sent him a message explaining why.

    Now though, I'm over it. To me, they obviously weren't able to handle my differing opinion, or my choice to post it. Clearly I was offensive enough that they didn't want to be involved with me, and that's their prerogative. It's still a loss, but not one I'm prone to dwell on or think about often. In my opinion, real friends will take all sides of you, all opinions and quirks and posts. If someone chooses to delete you over facebook, they weren't a real friend in the first place. And, if family does it, you just smile and make small talk as usual at the few times a year you see them, and otherwise you're not in each others lives.

  33. Senz says:

    I do not unfriend anyone over small stuff, and when I do I usually just send a private message, explaining, not a public post about it. However I do understand not wanting to be confronted with shocking images. I would love it if they came with a warning. We have 18+ and NSFW, I’d like to add a shocking footage warning so you have a choice. I know that most people that post things like this do it with a positive intention. And I do not get angry at them but I am very sensitive to such images and I can only watch them crying. I already know this is happing and I allready care and I really didn’t ask for unvoluntary shock therapy. What does bug me is not the animal lover, or someone wanting to let people know bad stuff happens, but the people constantly posting these kind of things. I don’t see them as activists, I see them as people who enjoy the thrill of wooow shocking stuff just happened. I do not respect that. I will first unfollow their posts and if they really just are that type eventually start asking myself if I really do like that kind of person. I don’t ask them to change for me, but you can’t like everything or everyone and thats ok too, as long as you don’t blame them for your dislike.