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Why do we condemn stepping on bugs but embrace sport fishing?


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Firstly, I'm the kind of guy who steps on bugs, not around them. If there's a bug in my house; I don't "rescue it." I squash it, then flush it. So, that's my very non-objective starting off point on the subject, and I just want to be upfront about that.

With that said, on to the meat and potatoes:

Over the course of time I have noticed a small number of people who immediately dislike it when I step on bugs, with varying degrees of distaste. Some examples: I'm at a restaurant and a creepy looking spider is crawling on the floor near my seat, so I quietly slide my foot over and crunch it. Then someone at the table goes: "that was mean" Or, a bee lands on my glass so I sneak my hand up from the side to give it a flick (which I'm pretty good at btw) and then hear "it was just hungry" right after I've stomped it. Or if I'm playing tennis with a buddy and I stop to bulldoze an ant mound with the toe of my sneaker, he'll half-jokingly go "Come on... what did they do to you?" missing the obvious point that I'm purposely doing it for no reason.

This sort of reaction is more the exception than the rule. Most girls love when I step on a spider for them. Even when I go to step on ants, the most common reaction is indifference.

Meanwhile: catching fish and releasing them is more brutal but rarely condemned.

Fish which are caught then released die all the time, bleeding to death, intended or not. Releasing doesn't mean "not lethal." And everyone who does catch and release fishing is aware of that outcome. The idea of this activity being a "hobby" seems worse to me. That means its done for entertainment, doesn't it? Even worse that it is ritualized. And these are vertebrate organisms with a significantly more developed central nervous system which experiences pain. But people do this to "pass the time."

When I go to stamp my feet on a line of ants during an outdoor lunch, there's a chance I'll get a look from someone... but probably not if I were fishing.   However, attack of the Sharp Flesh-Tearing Hook seems more unpleasant than the Attack of the Giant Sneaker. The smell of my feet would be more intolerable. Obviously I'm not a bug or a fish but given the choice, getting one's face punctured by a hook and dragged 100 yards until its torn out and you can't breathe seems worse than being crushed instantly under a gargantuan white rubber thing.

So why is one tolerated but not the other?

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1 hour ago, IanNazr said:

Firstly, I'm the kind of guy who steps on bugs, not around them. If there's a bug in my house; I don't "rescue it." I squash it, then flush it. So, that's my very non-objective starting off point on the subject, and I just want to be upfront about that.

With that said, on to the meat and potatoes:

Over the course of time I have noticed a small number of people who immediately dislike it when I step on bugs, with varying degrees of distaste. Some examples: I'm at a restaurant and a creepy looking spider is crawling on the floor near my seat, so I quietly slide my foot over and crunch it. Then someone at the table goes: "that was mean" Or, a bee lands on my glass so I sneak my hand up from the side to give it a flick (which I'm pretty good at btw) and then hear "it was just hungry" right after I've stomped it. Or if I'm playing tennis with a buddy and I stop to bulldoze an ant mound with the toe of my sneaker, he'll half-jokingly go "Come on... what did they do to you?" missing the obvious point that I'm purposely doing it for no reason.

This sort of reaction is more the exception than the rule. Most girls love when I step on a spider for them. Even when I go to step on ants, the most common reaction is indifference.

Meanwhile: catching fish and releasing them is more brutal but rarely condemned.

Fish which are caught then released die all the time, bleeding to death, intended or not. Releasing doesn't mean "not lethal." And everyone who does catch and release fishing is aware of that outcome. The idea of this activity being a "hobby" seems worse to me. That means its done for entertainment, doesn't it? Even worse that it is ritualized. And these are vertebrate organisms with a significantly more developed central nervous system which experiences pain. But people do this to "pass the time."

When I go to stamp my feet on a line of ants during an outdoor lunch, there's a chance I'll get a look from someone... but probably not if I were fishing.   However, attack of the Sharp Flesh-Tearing Hook seems more unpleasant than the Attack of the Giant Sneaker. The smell of my feet would be more intolerable. Obviously I'm not a bug or a fish but given the choice, getting one's face punctured by a hook and dragged 100 yards until its torn out and you can't breathe seems worse than being crushed instantly under a gargantuan white rubber thing.

So why is one tolerated but not the other?

People will often object to wanton killing of harmless creatures. Your examples of the unnecessary killing of spiders and bees, both of which are generally harmless to us and actually beneficial, suggests you lack this sensitivity. If I met you, I would find your behaviour callous and objectionable.

Regarding sport fishing, I agree it seems unnecessarily cruel, though I note there are efforts to improve the survival rate of the released fish, by improved design of hooks etc. Perhaps it is just one of those things, like bullfighting, that is a relic of a more barbarous age and will die out as people become more aware of the need to respect the environment.

How many of the people who object to you stamping on insects and spiders go sport fishing?  

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2 hours ago, IanNazr said:

So why is one tolerated but not the other?

What do we do if our home is over run by pests of any sort...rodents, insects spiders etc. How many ants and other insects do we accidently kill everyday, by unknowingly walking on them for example? I don't purposely kill insects and such for the fun of it...in fact I'm shit scared and terrified of things like cockroaches and spiders. I don't squat or squash them as I can't even stand the sound of it underfoot. I may immediately get out the insect spray and literally drown them, but that's about it. Other things such as snails, butterflies, cattipilars etc I always leave alone in the garden....except spider webs!!!! [Have you ever walked into one after a few beers in the dead of night?]

I love animals in general, particularly dogs, who I have even shared a bed with. I love my pork, lamb roasts, chicken etc, and while understanding the minimal suffering [I hope] they go through to end up on my dinner table, sadly I actually fon't give it too much thought. BUT I HATE SPIDERS, RATS, MICE AND COCKROACHES!!!!

 

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2 hours ago, IanNazr said:

Over the course of time I have noticed a small number of people who immediately dislike it when I step on bugs, with varying degrees of distaste.

Small number. Which is perfectly consistent with there being a spectrum of attitudes on the topic. I'm on the part that dislikes sport fishing and tends not to kill spiders (at least, the ones that can't kill me, were I to be confronted with that scenario)

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8 minutes ago, beecee said:

I love animals in general, particularly dogs, who I have even shared a bed with. I love my pork, lamb roasts, chicken etc, and while understanding the minimal suffering [I hope] they go through to end up on my dinner table, sadly I actually fon't give it too much thought. BUT I HATE SPIDERS, RATS, MICE AND COCKROACHES!!!!

Australia plays in a different league when it comes to bugs. ;) 

Most insects and arachnids won't harm you if you don't mess with them. I think it's gratuitously violent to kill animals just because it makes you feel more comfy. Take your picnic somewhere else is my advice. Similar reason why I oppose bullfighting, and hunting and fishing just for sport. We do enough damage as it is by destroying habitats at the rate we are.

It's also a matter of growing up, IMO. Last time I killed a small animal at a place that's not in my home I was like ten. Stamping on an ant's nest would make me feel ridiculous today. The last time I stepped on a spider to feel manly in front of a girl I must have been something like that age too.

But if I haven't convinced you, I suggest you extend your strategy to grizzly bears. Those can really disturb your picnic. :)

 

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I respect life on all levels, and to me that means avoiding unnecessary killing. Insects can pose specific problems, and I'd have no qualms fumigating or getting rid of true pests, but if there's no need to kill those bugs, I don't do it. I especially wouldn't kill something to impress a person. That seems like animal behavior, something I try to rise above. I remember doing dumb things to impress women, but eventually I learned to appreciate the ones who liked learning about bugs rather than the ones who wanted me to kill them.

I'm living right now with several bull snakes on the property. They're fascinating creatures, and we rarely see them when we're outside, but occasionally one gets startled and goes on defense. It hasn't happened to me yet, and it will probably scare the wee out of me (they emulate a rattlesnake when threatened, making their head flatter and hissing like a rattle). I'm OK with the occasional scare, but if one of them actually bites (non-venomous), he's going to be relocated with airborne prejudice. There's a park behind me that could use an aggressive snake.

I don't hunt. I haven't fished for decades, and I NEVER fished catch-and-release. I killed and ate the fish instead.

For anyone who thinks the bugs they step on don't matter, I highly recommend David Attenborough's A Life on Our Planet. It's his witness statement to the effect that biodiversity is what makes the Earth so unique and valuable, and anything you're doing to harm that is a crime.

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6 hours ago, IanNazr said:

Firstly, I'm the kind of guy who steps on bugs, not around them. If there's a bug in my house; I don't "rescue it." I squash it, then flush it. So, that's my very non-objective starting off point on the subject, and I just want to be upfront about that.

With that said, on to the meat and potatoes:

Over the course of time I have noticed a small number of people who immediately dislike it when I step on bugs, with varying degrees of distaste. Some examples: I'm at a restaurant and a creepy looking spider is crawling on the floor near my seat, so I quietly slide my foot over and crunch it. Then someone at the table goes: "that was mean" Or, a bee lands on my glass so I sneak my hand up from the side to give it a flick (which I'm pretty good at btw) and then hear "it was just hungry" right after I've stomped it. Or if I'm playing tennis with a buddy and I stop to bulldoze an ant mound with the toe of my sneaker, he'll half-jokingly go "Come on... what did they do to you?" missing the obvious point that I'm purposely doing it for no reason.

This sort of reaction is more the exception than the rule. Most girls love when I step on a spider for them. Even when I go to step on ants, the most common reaction is indifference.

Meanwhile: catching fish and releasing them is more brutal but rarely condemned.

Fish which are caught then released die all the time, bleeding to death, intended or not. Releasing doesn't mean "not lethal." And everyone who does catch and release fishing is aware of that outcome. The idea of this activity being a "hobby" seems worse to me. That means its done for entertainment, doesn't it? Even worse that it is ritualized. And these are vertebrate organisms with a significantly more developed central nervous system which experiences pain. But people do this to "pass the time."

When I go to stamp my feet on a line of ants during an outdoor lunch, there's a chance I'll get a look from someone... but probably not if I were fishing.   However, attack of the Sharp Flesh-Tearing Hook seems more unpleasant than the Attack of the Giant Sneaker. The smell of my feet would be more intolerable. Obviously I'm not a bug or a fish but given the choice, getting one's face punctured by a hook and dragged 100 yards until its torn out and you can't breathe seems worse than being crushed instantly under a gargantuan white rubber thing.

So why is one tolerated but not the other?

Much for the same reasons why they don't jump in front of a rento-kill car; because a rat is far easier to hate... 

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8 hours ago, exchemist said:

People will often object to wanton killing of harmless creatures. Your examples of the unnecessary killing of spiders and bees, both of which are generally harmless to us and actually beneficial, suggests you lack this sensitivity. If I met you, I would find your behaviour callous and objectionable.

Regarding sport fishing, I agree it seems unnecessarily cruel, though I note there are efforts to improve the survival rate of the released fish, by improved design of hooks etc. Perhaps it is just one of those things, like bullfighting, that is a relic of a more barbarous age and will die out as people become more aware of the need to respect the environment.

How many of the people who object to you stamping on insects and spiders go sport fishing?  

Off the top of my head I only know a couple people who fish; one is a friend who I know squashes all spiders on sight and will flick or swat down any flying insect that is bothersome.  I doubt either would object to the style of attention I give bugs.  As to the cruelty of sport fishing: its cruelty seems almost sinister by contrast.  It's literally hurting animals to "pass the time."  This is called a "hobby."   When it comes to bugs, it's more habit than hobby.  Plus, when I eliminate a spider or ants, it's often a solution to a problem... perhaps a lazy one, but there is often some utility there.  It puzzles me that fishing for sport could ever be seen as more acceptable.

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17 minutes ago, IanNazr said:

Off the top of my head I only know a couple people who fish; one is a friend who I know squashes all spiders on sight and will flick or swat down any flying insect that is bothersome.  I doubt either would object to the style of attention I give bugs.  As to the cruelty of sport fishing: its cruelty seems almost sinister by contrast.  It's literally hurting animals to "pass the time."  This is called a "hobby."   When it comes to bugs, it's more habit than hobby.  Plus, when I eliminate a spider or ants, it's often a solution to a problem... perhaps a lazy one, but there is often some utility there.  It puzzles me that fishing for sport could ever be seen as more acceptable.

But from what you say, it is not clear that sport fishing is any more acceptable. If the people you know who go sport fishing also squash insects, then that suggests that maybe the people find squashing insects objectionable would also disapprove of sport fishing.  So perhaps it is quite ethically consistent, with more barbarous people doing both and more enlightened people doing neither. 

But that may not be the entire explanation. There is also an emotional element involved, when one actually witnesses the killing of a creature, as opposed to just hearing someone talk of an activity they have never witnessed in person and may know little about.

People don't generally like witnessing killing. It is perhaps rather bad manners to inflict on someone the spectacle of killing a creature, whether doing so is necessary or entirely gratuitous.  

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52 minutes ago, IanNazr said:

Off the top of my head I only know a couple people who fish; one is a friend who I know squashes all spiders on sight and will flick or swat down any flying insect that is bothersome.  I doubt either would object to the style of attention I give bugs.  As to the cruelty of sport fishing: its cruelty seems almost sinister by contrast.  It's literally hurting animals to "pass the time."  This is called a "hobby."   When it comes to bugs, it's more habit than hobby.  Plus, when I eliminate a spider or ants, it's often a solution to a problem... perhaps a lazy one, but there is often some utility there.  It puzzles me that fishing for sport could ever be seen as more acceptable.

This sounds a bit like the Actor/Observer cognitive bias, where you think your own actions are influenced by external factors (the bugs are destructive, you were asked to kill them, you're solving a problem), but others are influenced internally (they're cruel, they kill as a hobby, they're insensitive). I think your perspective may be leading you towards misunderstanding.

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8 hours ago, joigus said:

Australia plays in a different league when it comes to bugs. ;) Most insects and arachnids won't harm you if you don't mess with them.

Understood, it's just that I have a morbid fear of certain things. I once had this dirty big huntsman running up the kitchen wall, and I screamed like a big girl, so loud, the Mrs came running out. Huntsman spiders while large are non venomous, which I had to keep telling myself over and over and over, as I swept it outside with an extremely long handled broom. Living in Sydney on the coast, we are taught to empty and shake our shoes before putting them on in case one of these little creatures happens to crawl in at night. The main danger is the very venomous Sydney Funnel Web, one of the most deadly in the world.... Funnel web spider bites Bundanoon woman in her bed | Southern Highland News  | Bowral, NSW

Let me say that [thankfully] I have never seen one in the wild. These little beauties when threatened, literally rear up on their hind legs with their fangs ready to strike.

8 hours ago, joigus said:

But if I haven't convinced you, I suggest you extend your strategy to grizzly bears. Those can really disturb your picnic. :)

No thanks, while not a bear, I'll stick to our cuddly Koala. 😉

7 hours ago, Phi for All said:

I respect life on all levels, and to me that means avoiding unnecessary killing. Insects can pose specific problems, and I'd have no qualms fumigating or getting rid of true pests, but if there's no need to kill those bugs, I don't do it.

I hope I made myself clear on that point, in that I certainly do not go out of my way to kill anything, as long as they stay out of my abode! 

7 hours ago, Phi for All said:

For anyone who thinks the bugs they step on don't matter, I highly recommend David Attenborough's A Life on Our Planet. It's his witness statement to the effect that biodiversity is what makes the Earth so unique and valuable, and anything you're doing to harm that is a crime.

IMO David Attenborough is one of the finest human beings on the planet.

7 hours ago, Phi for All said:

I'm living right now with several bull snakes on the property. 

My fear of snakes is minimal when compared to my morbidly psychological fear of creepy crawlies things 😬 despite knowing full well that most won't harm me. When I was a much younger man, I did a fair amount of bushwalking and hiking. On at least three occasions we came across snakes sunning themselves....two were red bellied black snakes and a Tiger snake, both species are venomous. We detoured around them without any hint of a problem or threatening posture from the sunning snakes. 

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2 hours ago, Phi for All said:

This sounds a bit like the Actor/Observer cognitive bias, where you think your own actions are influenced by external factors (the bugs are destructive, you were asked to kill them, you're solving a problem), but others are influenced internally (they're cruel, they kill as a hobby, they're insensitive). I think your perspective may be leading you towards misunderstanding.

Is it possible that I may be discounting external motivations to sport fishing that are at least as legitimate or redeemable to those which influence the kind of attention I give bugs?  Yes.

But let me attempt to shed that bias, and I struggle to see an equivalency or parallels.  Whether I go to raise my sneaker above an army of hungry ants, or step on a spider, or smash a pesky bee, the goal is often to repel or destroy unwanted invaders either because they are annoying, may sting or bite, or in the case of spiders, are just creepy.  Sport fishers aren't trying to repel invaders, though.  Rather, they are traveling often long distances to seek out the animals' habitat without any intention of using them for meat.  I wonder what external factors would influence them to do such a thing?  

What concerns me more though is the jarring difference in the degree of planning and intent.  Swatting down a bee is an unthinking, split second decision.  Similarly, not much thought or planning goes into stepping on a spider for some overly dramatic girl; if they want me to see me demonstrate my machismo, why not?  Even walking over to stamp my feet on invading ants is relatively spontaneous.  

By contrast, people who sport fish literally plan ahead, prepare for, and travel long distances to go and do something that will injure and and potentially kill.  It brings "going out of your way to harm something" to a whole different level, even if we cast aside motivation for the time being.  There is long term planning and time investment that goes into sport fishing, there are gears turning in the person head, they look forward to it.  Think about that...  even if the people aren't cruel-minded, their commitment to an activity that hurts significantly more complex animals seems to be.  I'm not saying bug squashers and sport fishermen don't sometimes overlap.   But I'm critical of how one activity is embraced while the other one is written off as immature or cruel.

 

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4 hours ago, Phi for All said:

This sounds a bit like the Actor/Observer cognitive bias, [...]

I think this is clear based on the manifest whataboutism of the main argument.

1 hour ago, IanNazr said:

or in the case of spiders, are just creepy.

You see them as just creepy; I see them as an ancient lineage of animals that have been on this planet for hundreds of millions of years. So that's subjective. But in any case, how creepy something is should have no bearing on whether knowingly destroying it is justifiable.

Phoenician tombs or Aztec monuments are creepy --they contain the rests of sacrificed people--, but they're invaluable; some people are creepy --e.g., people with bad hairpieces--, but they have the right to live, etc.

As to the argument,

2 hours ago, IanNazr said:

By contrast, people who sport fish literally plan ahead, prepare for, and travel long distances to go and do something that will injure and and potentially kill.

I don't think this provides a solid basis for assessing whether an action is or is not justified or proportionate. It may be an argument for judging the degree of premeditation assuming the action has already been judged unethical, or unjustified, or disproportionate, or maybe just idle, on some other basis. It doesn't tell us anything about whether it's laudable or not. And pointing out that other actions are more culpable than the one we're defending doesn't make a good case.

My personal opinion is that you should kill an animal only if it's a threat to your life, well being, etc. But maybe that's just me.

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19 hours ago, IanNazr said:

So why is one tolerated but not the other?

Bugs and fish have little to do with why one activity is acceptable and the other is condemned. It is the human activity that is condemned or accepted.

Switch the animals around and you find it is the person's actions that are judged.

Stepping on insects is condemned; catching and releasing fish is accepted.

Stepping on fish is condemned; catching and releasing insects is accepted.

 

 

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4 hours ago, zapatos said:

Bugs and fish have little to do with why one activity is acceptable and the other is condemned. It is the human activity that is condemned or accepted.

Switch the animals around and you find it is the person's actions that are judged.

Stepping on insects is condemned; catching and releasing fish is accepted.

Stepping on fish is condemned; catching and releasing insects is accepted.

 

 

That's an interesting take on it.  Why is the act of specifically stepping on them condemned, I wonder.  Is it because death by a gigantic foot is more certain than fishing?

If the intent to kill is the problem... I wonder if we could reasonably compare stepping on bugs to trophy hunting.  In that activity, death is pretty certain.   Like recreational fishing it is a socially acceptable "hobby," except this one involves killing some pretty intelligent and sometimes endangered animals... for really no good reason except for a thrill and showing off.  Reasons I would also say are more questionable than when a guy like me steps on ants in my driveway.   Some people, usually superrich men, literally fly overseas and pay tens of thousands of dollars to corrupt government bureaucrats to participate in this significantly premeditated act -- like the adult children of Donald Trump.  I think this redefines the expression "going out of your way to kill something."  😛

trumps-son-tiger-kill.png

 

 

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25 minutes ago, IanNazr said:

That's an interesting take on it.  Why is the act of specifically stepping on them condemned, I wonder.  Is it because death by a gigantic foot is more certain than fishing?

If the intent to kill is the problem... I wonder if we could reasonably compare stepping on bugs to trophy hunting.  In that activity, death is pretty certain.   Like recreational fishing it is a socially acceptable "hobby," except this one involves killing some pretty intelligent and sometimes endangered animals... for really no good reason except for a thrill and showing off.  Reasons I would also say are more questionable than when a guy like me steps on ants in my driveway.   Some people, usually superrich men, literally fly overseas and pay tens of thousands of dollars to corrupt government bureaucrats to participate in this significantly premeditated act -- like the adult children of Donald Trump.  I think this redefines the expression "going out of your way to kill something."  😛

trumps-son-tiger-kill.png

 

 

It's all on a spectrum of judgement, deliberately stepping on a bug is still going to be judged.

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Best thing to do is, jump of the scales; never do anything deliberately hurtful, and on that basis never care about the judgement of other's.

But if I'm hungry I'm deliberately going fishing.😉 

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  • 2 weeks later...

My impression is that it's nearly impossible for any modern human not to engage in some level of hypocrisy where animals are concerned.  Though primarily vegetarian, I go off the wagon and eat sardines twice a week.  Two reasons - one, my arthritis flares when I don't eat the little fish; two, sardines seem to exist at a developmental level where I feel sentience (and awareness of their demise) is minimal, ergo less suffering.  Yes, people have asked "why don't you just use fish oil capsules?"   Then I remind them that fish oil capsules come from squishing fish and so are not really an ethically superior option. 

Ethically, there are many places that even a vegan diet will mean cropping land that was originally a rich habitat for animals, and so your vegan meal was won by clearing land which resulted in animal deaths and even species extinctions within a certain area.  I think we'd need to cull the human herd back to a few hundred million (as the Deep Ecology movement would have us do) in order to avoid this kind of indirect harm to all creatures great and small. 

 

 

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On 6/28/2021 at 10:14 PM, beecee said:

 I certainly do not go out of my way to kill anything, as long as they stay out of my abode! 

It's their home too, and they were there millions of years earlier.

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On 6/29/2021 at 4:26 AM, dimreepr said:

It's all on a spectrum of judgement, deliberately stepping on a bug is still going to be judged.

True; but I question the people who more harshly or disdainfully judge a guy like me who steps on bugs often for no reason versus someone who trophy hunts or even fishes recreationally.   Not only are those activities more premeditated, they require one to have the stomach for causing and witnessing much greater suffering caused as a result of their own actions.  Imagine watching an intelligent creature such as an elephant in its death throes or struggling to breathe after being shot.  There is very palpable distress and emotion... that some people seem not to mind.  

 

On 7/12/2021 at 2:08 PM, John Cuthber said:

It's their home too, and they were there millions of years earlier.

 

fEdYqDt.jpg?2

Less serious reply: How about a home right above the blue arrow?  Tenants come and go often for me.  >:D

 

More serious reply: bugs taken together have a tendency to make every square foot of dry land on the planet their home though.    For bugs, being in constant danger is a package deal.  Look how quickly a fly will move if you go to swat it with your hand.  They have ways of escaping and avoiding danger.  True; they aren't asking to be stepped on, but regardless of how mindless they are, bugs still capable of sensing and reacting to danger.  That being said, I have to assume that they can perceive the pair of ominous, white, alien objects pictured above as dangerous when they make the mistake of crawling anywhere near my feet.  😛

Right?

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