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The “Friendzone” is a Myth, and You are Not a Nice Guy

Posted in Ramblings, Rants with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 21, 2013 by KarenElizabeth

“Friendzone” is one of those terms that I absolutely cannot stand.  While the term’s been around since the 90s (most sources credit the TV show “Friends” with its origin), it has become much more popular in the last couple of years, and now seems to be a fixture in common parlance.  The Internet is rife with the rants and whinings of the “friendzoned”.  Of course, this whining usually has the opposite effect of what was intended — its only purpose, really, is to let me know that the person using the term is an asshole and not worth being friends with in the first place.

For those unfamiliar with it, Urban Dictionary defines the friendzone as “What you attain after you fail to impress a woman you’re attracted to.”  Wikipedia’s definition is a little bit more honest (as well as being gender neutral):  “the friend zone refers to a platonic relationship where one person wishes to enter into a romantic relationship, while the other does not.

Now, I’m not saying that wanting “more” from a friendship with a person who you find attractive is always a bad thing.  I actually prefer to date people with whom I’ve already built a friendship, as it’s easier to trust a person who you already know and like.  The problem is that “friendzone” is generally presented as a negative thing, as though being friends is some sort of “consolation prize”.  It creates the impression that you were only in it for the possibility of sex, and if that possibility is removed, you’re really not interested in continuing the friendship.

I’ve lost my share of friendships this way, and the usual way of things is this:  you meet, chat, realize that you have a lot in common.  You hang out more often, find shared interests that you can do together.  You talk about all sorts of different topics.  And at some point, one party falls for the other.  The crush is revealed and – oh no – it’s not mutual.  Awkward.  Everybody feels kind of bad.  You say that you won’t let it change anything, and then … they disappear.  They’re never available to hang out any more.  Calls go unanswered.  You’ve lost a friend, because they couldn’t deal with the embarrassment of being sexually rejected.

It’s pretty unpleasant, not to mention rather insulting, to think that a friendship you’ve invested time and energy into was only a plan to get into your pants.  And it can be heartbreaking when someone you’ve spent a lot of time with, and built a connection with, decides that they don’t want to be around you any more because you won’t offer them sex.

There can be dozens of different reasons why people who are compatible as friends may not feel a sexual attraction for each other.  The simplest explanation is physical attraction (or the lack thereof) — there’s not much that you can do if you just simply aren’t attracted to the person.  But there are countless other factors as well.  Maybe your wants and needs in a relationship are different (ie, if one person is polyamorous and the other is monogamous, it’s unlikely to work).  Maybe your future plans don’t mesh (ie, one person wants kids and the other doesn’t).  Maybe there’s already someone else, or you’re not over a recent breakup, or you’re still figuring out your sexuality, or you’re simply happy with being single.

Whatever the reason, deciding that friendship, without sex or other “benefits”, just isn’t quite “good enough” for you?  It’s an asshole move.  Ditching a friend because you’ve decided it’s not “going anywhere” makes you a total jerkbag asshat.  At least the person you’re dumping as a friend is probably better off without you, but that really is a totally shitty consolation prize.

The thing is, if you’re using the term “friendzone” to describe your relationship with a person?  You probably aren’t really their friend.  Friends care about each other as more than just objects, and want one another to be happy.  It’s fair to be disappointed when you fall for a person and they don’t fall for you — it’s a shitty thing to happen.  But grow up, be an adult about it, and respect their feelings.  You’ll get over it and find somebody else to crush on soon enough.  If you’re really their friend, you want them to find somebody great to be in a relationship with (even if that person isn’t you) — and they’ll want the same for you, as well.  You might even be able to have some good discussions with them, now, about why they don’t see you as a romantic possibility and about how you can go about improving yourself to become a better “catch” for when the right one comes along.  If you’re really lucky, you might even gain a “wingman“, to help you with approaching and attracting the next person you develop a crush on.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking right now, so I’m just going to nip this in the bud — substitute alternative pronouns if necessary.  “But I’m really a nice guy!  Why can’t she see that I’d be perfect for her?”

To start with?  No.  No, you’re probably not a nice guy.  Because the guys who complain about how “nice guys finish last” and “girls only like to date assholes”?  Are usually not particularly nice.  They are, instead, what is known as a “Nice Guy” (note the capitalization and quotation marks).

In the world of the “Nice Guy”, people to whom you’re attracted are not seen as individual human beings.  They are interchangeable objects, into whom you deposit token gestures of how “Nice” you are.  Paying compliments.  Giving gifts.  Doing favours.  You count up all of these gestures like notches on a headboard, and expect that at some point you’ll be “paid back” with sex or a relationship, once the person is sufficiently in your “debt”.  Never mind that their feelings might be different from yours — they “owe” you, for all that you’ve “given” them.  It’s a shitty way to treat another person.  If you were truly their friend, you’d do favours and make such gestures without expecting anything in return, because that’s how friends treat each other.  You’d be upset if one of your friends gave you a gift, and then turned around and said “now where’s my present?”, so don’t do that to people you’re attracted to.

In addition to this, even if you are an excellent match?  They need to come to that conclusion themselves.  It might be a case of “right person, wrong time”, and if you stick around and are a genuine friend (and not a “Nice Guy”) to them, they may eventually reach that conclusion.  Don’t sit around waiting for it, of course, and certainly don’t pester them about it — seek other relationships and friendships in the meantime, and leave the ball in their court — but don’t consider the conversation over.  People grow, and change, and sometimes an initial rejection will turn into something different over time.

But wait — what’s that, Morpheus?

That’s right — there’s one other category that I haven’t dealt with yet.  That’s the people who “friendzone” themselves, because they never even bothered to say anything about their feelings.

This can be one of the most hurtful things to experience.  You make friends with a person, spend a bunch of time together … and then out of the blue, they stop calling, stop being available, and the friendship simply ends.  No explanation, you didn’t have a fight or a falling out, it’s just over.

And then you hear from a mutual friend: “oh, X had a crush on you, and you didn’t like them back, so they decided to end it”.  And you’re floored.  You didn’t know they felt that way.  Were there signs that you should have seen?  Why didn’t they talk to you about it?  It hurts to think that a person felt so intimidated by you that they found it easier to cut you off than it was to just talk to you about it.

This is one of the stupidest things that a person can do.  In addition to the usual problems associated with “friendzoning” (you’re treating the person as an object rather than a person, you’re more interested in sex and your own desires than you are in the friendship and their wants & needs, etc), there’s the added hurt of being completely left out of the decision-making process.  Maybe you hadn’t thought of that person as a possible sexual partner, but knowing that they feel that way about you might have left you feeling open to exploring the possibility.  But they chose for you; they decided how you felt (and took away your ownership and agency of your own emotions), acted on it, and you didn’t even get a say.

So to sum up:

  • Never use the term “friendzone”.  It’s a term only used by assholes.
  • If you’re attracted to a friend, and they don’t feel the same way about you, respect them enough to accept their decision and move on.
  • Cutting a person out of your life because they won’t have sex with you is shallow and childish, and not the way you’d treat a friend.
  • If you’re attracted to a person, say something.  Don’t assume that they are psychic, and don’t assume anything about their feelings in return.

Online Identities: Navigating the Minefields of Trolls, Bullying, Privacy, and the Lack Thereof

Posted in Ramblings, Rants with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2012 by KarenElizabeth

The Internet is aflame this week (even more so than usual) in the aftermath of two very high-profile incidents which have once again thrown the spotlight on issues of online privacy.  I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about:  Amanda Todd’s suicide and its aftermath, and the “outing” of Michael Brutsch (a.k.a. Violentacrez).  Even Mittens’ latest social blunders haven’t distracted us entirely from the discussion and debate that has ensued.

The real question, the one that has kept people talking (and it’s something that’s come up before, and will certainly come up again), is this:  what expectation should we have of online privacy, and how does one preserve one’s anonymity in the face of a world where all of our online doings can be traced and collected?

The short answer, of course, is that no one gets to be anonymous.  Every action, every word: whether online or in “real life”, we must own our own behaviour and be answerable for our own actions.  What we do and say can always come back to haunt us, and on the Internet everything is recorded — it’s like living your life in front of a video camera.

Of course, on the Internet we do have the privilege of anonymity, to some degree, simply because so much of the time?  Absolutely no one is watching what’s being recorded.  What websites we visit, what we search on Google, what porn we download — most of the time, nobody really cares.  The information is recorded, there to be found by anyone who searches, but searching takes an effort, and for most of us?  The fact that looking us up takes work is enough to maintain our fragile anonymity.  The same is true in real life — while someone easily could be following our every movement, watching our every action, does anybody really want to go to so much trouble?  Unless you’re some sort of mega-celebrity with the paparazzi hounding your steps, the answer is very likely “no”.

There are ways to increase the difficulty factor involved in that search, of course.  Using pseudonyms, shielding your IP address, protecting your passwords and Internet behaviours from people you know in real life, taking care that the online identities you use from one website to the next are not immediately traceable to each other.  You can be discriminatory in what information you talk about or share at all online (for example, by never posting photos that show your face) — these are all legitimate strategies.  They take additional effort on your own part, and are not insurmountable obstacles (nothing can completely shield you all the time), but increasing how hard it is to trace you can be enough to deter a casual searcher with not much to prove or to gain by figuring out just who you are and what you do on the Internet.

There are those, of course, who believe that nothing should be hidden.  On this point I have to disagree:  while I am an advocate of honesty in most every sphere of life, I also understand that concealment and deceit are not necessarily an indication that you are doing something wrong, and there are things that we all keep private (most of us probably don’t detail our sex lives to all and sundry, for example, or tell all our friends about the intimate details of the bout of diarrhea we suffered through, or tell the people at work what we really think of them and their stupid and annoying little habits).  We all have personal lives and private feelings.

But we’re not entitled to them.

Privacy is not an unalienable right.  It’s a privilege, one maintained mostly through a general sense of social propriety and politeness.  And it’s something that we can lose at any time, often through no fault of our own (try having a serious medical issue some time: an extended hospital stay will let you know just how much of your life is *really* private).  We have no legal protections from those who might choose to seek us out and invade our most intimate secrets, because knowledge cannot be copyrighted or owned.

Unfortunately, knowledge can also be used to harm.  While I have no sympathy whatsoever for someone like Michael Brutsch, who has reportedly lost his job (among other things) in the wake of his being “outed” as the man behind such Internet horrors as the “creepshots” and “jailbait” subreddits, I can still feel disgusted at humanity when the man is facing threats of death and violence.  He deserves to be ostracized, judged harshly, and treated accordingly, but violence is never a justifiable response to anything, and the people who would make such threats are truly no better than he is.  But at the same time, he at least can be said to deserve the negative reactions to his actions — he has admitted to deliberately “trolling” for negative reactions, and shouldn’t be surprised that those reactions have been extreme, because extremity is exactly what he aimed to provoke.

Where I feel a lot more sympathy is with people who need Internet anonymity in order to be able to speak safely about the topics they tackle.  People like Orac, Bug Girl, and other pseudonymous bloggers:  they are required by their jobs to maintain separation between their Internet personas and their professional ones, and a pseudonym allows this (even while it does not provide 100% protection for their identity, and determined searchers are still able to — and sometimes do — find them out).  Others use pseudonyms for more concrete forms of safety:  those who criticize certain political or religious groups, for example, may be putting their lives at risk by doing so, and an extra level of difficulty in finding out one’s identity may be a very prudent step to take in that sort of scenario.

The other facet to the current discussion is, of course, just how easy it has become for a bully or a troll to ruin someone’s life by spreading false information through the medium of the Internet.  Something as simple to create as a phony Facebook account can cause a person untold amounts of social strife, and how do we protect against this?

Well, the same way we always have.  There are already laws against character defamation, libel, and slander.  There are laws against harassment, and against uttering threats.  We don’t need new laws to police the Internet — we just need to educate people on their rights and on how to deal with such attacks.  If a troll or a bully is harassing you, you can report them to the police.  If someone is saying false things about you, you can sue them.  Even if someone is using true information (as in the Amanda Todd case), but they’re doing it in such a way as to harm you, you can take legal action against them and stop them being able to attack and hurt you.

Don’t know who the person is?  That doesn’t matter.  Because as we’ve already established, everything on the Internet is traceable.  Even if you’re not computer-savvy enough to hunt down a troll, other people are.  The authorities have resources in this regard, and they can find out a person fairly easily.  Lack of anonymity is a double-edged sword, and when you’re the victim?  You can use it in your defense, as well.

In the end, the best thing a person can do to protect themselves from losing their online anonymity is just to simply be blameless.  Don’t do things online that you wouldn’t do in real life, or draw attention to yourself through bad behaviour.  Don’t use anonymity as a shield, because it’s a very flimsy shield — like Wiley Coyote hiding under a tiny umbrella to ward off a falling boulder.  If you’ve got serious concerns about hiding yourself (if you’re using the Internet as a medium to distribute a message that might get you shot in the head by the Taliban, for example), seek real-life ways of protecting your person and your safety, as well as using the tactics I outlined above (pseudonyms, hiding your IP, no photos, etc), because to rely solely on Internet anonymity is foolhardy.

Musings on Sex, Sexuality, and the Results Thereof

Posted in Ramblings with tags , , , , , , on January 25, 2011 by KarenElizabeth

Sex is a pretty important thing in the life of any vertebrate (and in the lives of many invertebrate species, as well, but I won’t get into that just now).  For many species, the biological drive to create the next generation is all-consuming.  No surprise, then, that humans are pretty much obsessed with sex.  We love it, hate it, fear it, desire it, and above all else: we do it.  According to a 2005 survey by condom manufacturer Durex, the average person has sex about 127 times per year (about 2 and a half times every week).  The Kinsey Institute‘s numbers are a bit more conservative, but still indicate that your average person has sex between one and two times per week, with frequency dropping off somewhat once you’ve passed your prime breeding years.

Eep!  Penises are Scary!

While those claims you heard in high school about how men think about sex every seven seconds are almost certainly false (although in a high school environment it sometimes seems pretty believable), we do spend a lot of time fantasizing.  A U.S. survey from 1994 indicates that:

54% of men think about sex everyday or several times a day, 43% a few times per month or a few times per week, and 4% less than once a month, while 19% of women think about sex everyday or several times a day, 67% a few times per month or a few times per week, and 14% less than once a month.

Of course, honest statistics about sex and sexuality are notoriously difficult to collect.  Because sex is such an obsession for us, it has always been entwined with some pretty serious taboos.  Asking questions about someone’s sex life can make them feel incredibly violated, as though you’re questioning their entire existence.  Some people will brag and exaggerate, others will minimize, and still others will simply not answer, preferring to say nothing at all.

Particularly difficult to collect is data about homosexuality and/or bisexuality.  Beginning with the now-famous Kinsey reports of the late 40s and early 50s, many studies have attempted to pinpoint exactly what percentage of the population is homosexual, with varying results.

Part of this difficulty results, of course, from the truly variable nature of sexual desire.  What we want can change from day to day — to borrow a term from BDSM lingo, most of us are “switches” to some degree or another.  One day we might want to be directing the action, the next we might want to be passively accepting the direction of another.  One day we might want something rough and passionate, while the next we might want something slow and intimate.  In the case of bisexuals like me: one day we might want a woman, the next we might want a man.  Dealing with the changeable nature of our own desires can be challenging, and many people will simply repress those desires that they cannot easily understand or reconcile.  A simple label like “straight”, “gay”, or “bi” might not completely encompass your sexual experience (I used to resist the simplistic “bi” as being an insult to my personal complexities), but you’re likely to choose one anyways for the sake of expediency — I gave up the pretension of trying to explain a more convoluted terminology quite a while ago.

The Kinsey Scale is probably the most famous example of an attempt to go beyond such simple definitions of sexual orientation, with people being rated from 0 (exclusively straight) to 6 (exclusively gay), with a rating of X being given for asexuality.  At the time it was a revolutionary idea, although today it is often criticized for being overly simplistic and not accounting for enough factors.  It’s now generally believed that our sexual desires and orientation are quite changeable, and that the same person might rank a 1 on the Kinsey scale one day, and a 5 on another day, and yet still self-identify as “straight” simply because they’ve never acted on their homosexual desires.

Given all of this, it’s amazing how much emphasis we put on the importance of “sexual compatibility” in relationships.  Obviously there are some differences that are too great to bridge (ie, a person who only wants sex once a month and a person who wants sex every single day will likely never find a happy compromise without involving a third party in the relationship to sate the desires of the more lustful partner), but smaller differences should not cause us nearly as much consternation as they do.  You’re into rough sex, but your boyfriend prefers sweet & slow & cuddly?  Just change it up — start off rough, then cuddle afterwards, or have rough, violent sex one night, and soft, cuddly sex the next while you both nurse your bruises.  If each one makes a small sacrifice, you can both enjoy yourselves.  And you might even find yourself discovering new sides to your own sexuality, and finding fetishes that you never knew you possessed.

Even more difficult chasms of difference can be bridged as long as there is openness, communication, understanding, and most of all patience and trust.  A former abuse victim might have serious difficulties with performing certain sex acts, but that doesn’t mean they’re “sexually incompatible”.  It just means that the bridge you’re trying to cross is a particularly long one.  The same goes for more unconventional fetishes — given time and patience, a compromise can usually be found.  Something that totally disgusts you at first mention might, with further investigation, turn out to be not so bad at all … especially if you can find a tame, non-threatening way to slowly introduce it into the bedroom.  More extreme forms of BDSM involving body modifications, for example, could be experimented with by simply going and getting ear piercings or small tattoos together.  No need to immediately jump into scarification, corset piercings, branding, etc. when there are much safer and more “friendly” ways to begin.

Of course, most people aren’t nearly so pragmatic about it.  The slightest variation on your standard, comfortable, “vanilla” sex technique is often seen as a threat — or at the very least, an indication that you’re not satisfactory all on your own, and need a little “spicing up”.  Depending on your culture, age, religion, etc., different sex acts may be considered taboo — or even sinful, evil, etc.  Fetishes are given an almost universally negative connotation, considered unnatural and depraved when really all the evidence points to them being natural and even healthy things to have.  Marriages are ended and families broken up, never to see each other again, over something as simple as whether oral sex is an acceptable activity, or whether birth control is allowable in the eyes of god.

And then, of course, the Internet gets involved.  Here we have the ability to instantly share our innermost thoughts and feelings in a very anonymous way, connecting with people all over the world.  There’s no censorship, no judgment, no consequences to what you post.  Fetish communities form and thrive, suddenly everything and anything has a place where it’s considered “normal” (even things that should never, ever be considered normal, like pedophilia and bestiality).  Rule 34 takes effect.

Combine this with a world where Westerners already have all these romantic notions about there being some absolute, perfect “one” out there for them, and suddenly you’ve got a whole lot of people who are very in touch with their own fetishes, searching desperately for someone else who shares not only these, but also your political views, religious leanings, life goals, general intelligence level, and about a million other factors that we’ve decided as a society are important for making a functional relationship happen.  And as soon as we discover that this supposedly perfect person happens to also like something that we DON’T like, we’re up in arms — horrified, and completely unable to learn and grow and compromise.  Instead we go to dating sites, seeking that “perfect 10” compatibility rating instead of the mere 9.6 that we’d found before.  It’s like some bizarre game of musical chairs, with 7 billion participants and a totally uneven number of seating arrangements.

Sex is scary.  Socializing is scary.  Leaving your house and sharing information about yourself and going to unfamiliar places and doing unfamiliar things … it’s all scary.  And when you combine all of those terrifying things, you’ve got dating (and let’s not even get into the extra levels of scary that are involved with marriage, childbirth, getting a dog, and going on vacation together).

For all that we’ve been doing it for millions of years, we’re still not very good at this whole thing just yet.  But it’s a little bit difficult to say that we should just sit back, relax, and get over it.  After all, it’s sex!  Without it, we wouldn’t even be here right now.

How, Exactly, Does an Online Dating Service Do That?

Posted in Ramblings with tags , , , , , on July 30, 2010 by KarenElizabeth

During my daily ramblings around the Internet, a particular banner ad caught my eye.  It was for an online dating service (I’m not sure which one; it’s not like I actually clicked the link or anything. The desperate and/or mentally unstable fuckers I meet in real life are headaches enough for me, so I avoid online dating like the plague it so rightfully is).  What caught my attention, though, was a line at the end of the advertisement:  “those unfit to date will have their accounts deleted”.  This was, I assume, meant to inspire confidence in potential users of the service:  “unfit” mates are systematically removed from the site’s dating pool, thus increasing the chances of finding someone functional, date-able, and generally not totally fuck-off insane.  Seems like a good idea … for about the first half of a nanosecond.

Besides the very “classic sci-fi” implications of humans being declared unfit to mate by a computer system (in the end the computer decides that none of us can mate, and the species dies out as a whole, right?), I have to wonder just what sort of screening process an online dating service could possibly put its clients through.  It can’t possibly be very rigorous, since they’re a for-profit company trying to make money off as many love-starved suckers (of cock and otherwise) as possible.  So they’d want to be approving at least 90% of those who sign up, screening out only the REALLY awful ones.  But what would they consider “really awful”?  Registered sex offenders?  People who are certifiably insane?  Those with STIs?  But then again, who’s to say that rapists, sociopaths, and those with syphilitic sores on their crotches are undeserving of ‘true love’ (note here that I roll my eyes at the very concept of ‘true love’, but that’s really here nor there in this line of thinking).  What about the things that people more commonly find on online dating services:  people who have recently gone through a nasty breakup and are rebounding, people with serious attachment/abandonment/self esteem issues, or people who are using online dating as a means for unfaithfulness.  Are these things that should be screened for?  Does this dating service have a cadre of psychologists on staff, all of them looking to see if you’re really “over” your last relationship and are emotionally ready for another commitment?  Do potential applicants need to prove, in some way, that they are single and happy with themselves?  I’m going to say probably not, since truly emotionally balanced people aren’t likely the ones using online dating services in the first place.

What this really comes down to, though, is the idea of whether or not any person can ever be declared “ready to date” with any accuracy.  Even within our own minds, this is something we lie about.  We declare ourselves “over” old emotional scars that will later crop up in the middle of sex and leave us huddled against the wall, naked and crying, while our new partner asks in a baffled and wounded tone “what’s wrong?  I didn’t realize that mentioning teddy bears during coitus would hurt you”.  We decide that we “need” somebody to be in love with, when all we really need is validation of our own egos, or a momentary distraction from the horrors of real life, or even just a good, hard fucking.  We justify endless amounts of abuse because we “know” the other person really loves us, or just because we’re afraid of being alone.  We decide that we’re sane, even when we’re not, because we always see the world from our own tainted, limited perspective … and of course, there’s always the media-fueled pressure to couple up and make babies to continue the species and provide more capitalist drones.  It’s rare to meet a person who will admit “I’m not ready to date right now”, and rarer still to find somebody who actually acts upon such convictions and avoids dating until they feel ready (rather than just avoiding it until somebody really fuckable comes along, and then throwing caution to the wind and just going for it).

“Fit to date”.  I’m probably not, when you add up all the various emotional issues and psychoses I’ve managed to collect throughout my lifetime.  I doubt I’d be screened out by a computer system, though.  I’d be thrown in with all the other losers, desperate for the ego-validation provided by having someone more fucked up than yourself to take care of.  Because isn’t that what we’re all really searching for?  Not someone perfect, although we will tell ourselves so.  Just someone who’s fucked up enough to make you feel good.  Because if a dating service really catered only to those “fit to date”, the human species would be doomed within a generation or two.

The Internet is Back! Also, Butterworms.

Posted in Animalia, Ramblings with tags , , , , on May 13, 2010 by KarenElizabeth

As the title suggests, I’ve finally managed to get my home Internet up and running.  I’ve got lots of posting to catch up on, so expect a pretty decent activity level here in the coming weeks.  Of course, I’ve also still got lots of unpacking to do from the move, and some extra hours at work to put in to pay those moving costs, so I won’t be constantly online or anything like that.

While I was in my Internet-less state, a rather disturbing story broke in the reptile hobbyist community: a story about butterworms (a delicious and nutritious feeder insect) causing serious chemical burns on some baby crested geckos.  My friend and former roommate blogged about it the other day, and he’s covered the basics quite well, but I do feel the need to throw my 2 cents in here, as this is a pretty serious issue.

What I want to focus on here isn’t the “risks” per say, as there’s basically no information to go on.  There are a few anecdotal reports, nothing more — and as any scientifically minded person knows, anecdotal evidence is very, very sketchy stuff.  Information about butterworms and the way that they are prepared for export from Chile is hard to come by:  there really aren’t any cold, hard facts here to work from.  There’s not even a whole lot known about the butterworm life cycle — they’re the larval form of the Chilecomadia moorei moth, but information like how long they stay in larval form and what their breeding habits are is not readily available.

This lack of information creates a situation that is potentially extremely harmful to the butterworm trade — and, in a roundabout way, harmful to the herp hobby, because either way we could be losing what I’ve always considered to be a really good feeder.  Butterworms are a relatively expensive feeder (due to the cost of importing them), but they’ve always been considered worth the price because they’re very good nutritionally.  Especially important is their high calcium content and high fat content — both very important things for gravid (egg-producing) females, and also for juvenile animals.  They’re also not “shelly” insects like the cheaper mealworms or superworms, and the lack of a hard carapace makes them more easily digestible.

Reports like the recent ones of butterworms “burning” baby geckos could halt the butterworm trade cold.  What responsible owner, after all, would want to risk hurting their babies?  If these anecdotal reports can be supported with some decent facts, I’ll certainly stop using these feeders.  But that’s only IF the reports have any substance to them.  It’s entirely possible that there are isolated cases where butterworms have been exposed to some sort of caustic chemical during transport, and there’s also the theory being circulated that these were not, in fact, butterworms, but a related species that could easily have been mistaken for butterworms.  Or, of course, there’s the very real possibility that despite their assurances to the contrary, the owners in question were in fact the ones to blame, having allowed their feeders or their reptiles to come into contact with something unpleasant.

What’s especially sad to me is that not only will a halt of the butterworm trade be harmful to the companies and individuals who sell these insects, but it will also mean the loss of a very good feeder — possibly without reason.

This should be a wake-up call to all companies that transparency and getting good, accurate information out to your customers is VERY VERY IMPORTANT!  A few anecdotal tales would cause virtually no harm at all if there were better, more scientifically  sound information out there to counter those stories.  But without good information, we’re left with only these sketchy anecdotes, and we have to choose whether to believe them or not — and the possible risk to our animals is one that is hard to ignore.

Lack of Intertubes

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on April 28, 2010 by KarenElizabeth

So you may have noticed a distinct lack of activity here — I’ve not forgotten my bloggery, but I’m currently without Internet at home, and thus my Internet presence is limited to brief spaces while at work and my occasional visits to the library.

Never fear, though! I shall return, and with much to post about.