One day, in many thousands of years, digital archeologists will be picking through the remnants of Western civilisation for clues as to how we lived, loved, and flourished in the 21st Century. Amongst the rubble, between the fascist frog memes and those Snapchat filters that make you look like you’re vomiting rainbows, they’ll find the strangest of modern phenomena; pet social media accounts.
Until around 2015 it was all the rage for celebrities to create Twitter and Instagram accounts for their furry companions. Some managed the accounts themselves, others were most likely passed to beleaguered interns and personal assistants. From Taylor Swift’s Cat, Meredith, to Lady Gaga’s French Bulldog, Miss Asia Kinney, to Miley Cyrus’s menagerie of all things four-legged, to Choupette Lagerfeld (yes, really), Karl Lagerfeld’s cat – the mid 2010s were truly the heyday of bestialised social media. For the last few years, however, the trend seems to have been in decline and fewer and fewer celebrity pets find themselves under the harsh gaze of social media.
This could be perceived as a backlash against the growing ubiquity of our online personas; perhaps people are tired of maintaining the constant “best” version of themselves across multiple platforms and simply have no desire to inflict this upon beloved pets. Or perhaps the internet is a more serious place now; with fake news winning elections across the world, maybe anthropomorphised animals are a luxury we can’t afford.
There are some animals on social media, however, that are tirelessly doing exceptionally good work. Ziggy, an assistance Labrador from Veterans With Dogs, not only provides 24/7 life-changing support to his owner, but also brightens up our Twitter feed on a daily basis. Ziggy documents his owner’s daily life and the invaluable support he provides to a veteran living with PTSD. This kind of account is a valuable tool in any charity marketer’s repertoire. Not only does it provide a new avenue to build brand recognition and drive up donations, it can also (ironically) humanise a brand when it is not feasible, or desirable, to have a human “face” of the campaign. In Ziggy’s case, having him as the focus of the online attention brings an entirely new dimension to the scope and potential of the account, and deflects attention from somebody who may not want it. Scrolling through the tweets it’s obvious the huge impact assistance dogs can have on their owner’s lives. Sharing these experiences are essential for the charity in order to impress upon the public the importance of its work – sharing them in a way that makes them accessible and relatable is even better.
So should we mourn the decline of celebrity pets on social media? Arguably they were a fad that served no real purpose other than to vicariously enhance the personal brand of celebrities, but they also provided some much needed levity to the online world. Especially now, in today’s tumultuous political and social climate, perhaps we could do with more animals on Twitter and Instagram. Who wouldn’t want to open up their Twitter feed and see cute animals instead of news reports and arguing? If innovative charities like Veterans With Dogs can bring a little joy to people’s timelines with their good-natured and adorable animals, while also driving donations and awareness for an exceptionally important cause, we feel this should be fully supported and encouraged. In that spirit, here are some celebrity pets we would like to see on Twitter and Instagram.
Reese Witherspoon’s Miniature Donkeys: they’re called Honky and Tonky, and that particular breed of donkey is called a Donk. That’s enough to go on.
Vanilla Ice’s Wallaroo: there aren’t enough Wallaroos online, or in the world, and the fact that Bucky belongs to Vanilla Ice would only make him more popular.
Salvador Dali’s Anteater (honourable mention): had Dali been alive 40 years later his pet anteater would have been a prime candidate for internet celebrity status.
Also, if you’re looking for your daily dose of anthropomorphised animals, you might want to check out these subreddits;
Animals Being Bros – animals generally being awesome
Like Us – animals doing curiously human things
Aww – does exactly what it says on the tin. Pictures and videos to make you go “aww”