My Twitter feed consists almost exclusively of tweets from economists, politicians, and liberal-leaning news organizations. However, my favorite Twitter account is by far Thoughts of Dog (@dog_feelings), which narrates the wonderfully wholesome inner life of a dog. The dog is thoroughly good, intensely loves their humans, and delights in snoozles (naps), belly scritches (scratches), and doing speedy zooms (running). There are a few long story arcs, such as the dog’s adventures with their stuffed animal Sebastian, fascination with a Skittle stuck under the fridge, and the household’s adoption of another dog. The rest are charmingly random snapshots of a dog’s life rendered in adorably poor grammar and spelling. Some highlights: “if i happen. To lie down on your foot. You’re not allowed to move. You should feel honored.” And “sometimes. I roll over on my back. With my feets in the air. But then forget why i did. So i slowly return to my side. And hope no one saw me.”
The tweets never fail to make me laugh, and remind me of my own beloved dog at home. They also serve as an escape from sad and distressing news — the recent Supreme Court confirmation comes to mind. “Thoughts of Dog” is the one Twitter account I follow that politics never seems to touch. While it may reference real-life weather in tweets like “we had a big adventure planned for today. But the sky droplets just won’t stop,” real-life political events are never woven into the narratives. Either the dog lives in a world free from politics or is completely unaware of it.
I have conflicting feelings about the utterly apolitical nature of the account. While it provides a welcome respite from news that seems to get worse and worse every day, I’ve found myself questioning whether there is a role for escapism on the internet. An undeniable part of “Thoughts of Dog”’s appeal is the dog’s innocence, and enthusiasm for living in a world they view as perfect. Perhaps “Thoughts of Dog” is doing good by keeping a small space on the internet insulated from politics, as many people find being constantly surrounded by political discourse counter to their well-being. “Thoughts of Dog” may have such a devoted fan base because its tone contrasts so sharply with almost every other Twitter account.
If you have a sizable voice on the internet, however, as “Thoughts of Dog” has, is it irresponsible to completely abstain from politics? There is a point where harmless distraction from bad news becomes denial and avoidance. Maybe the account would have a more positive impact if the dog was depicted attending the Women’s March on Washington or went along with their owner to vote. As “Thoughts of Dog” recently tweeted, the dog is “a fluid. And increasingly complex soul.” Perhaps some of that increased complexity could be the dog gaining an awareness of politics. The account has 1.7 million followers, so it’s not unreasonable to believe that the account taking a political stance, or simply encouraging its followers to vote, could have an impact. I don’t think that people would unfollow “Thoughts of Dog” if the account’s tone became slightly more political. Occasionally tweeting about politics would not reduce the account’s charm; the dog would still mostly be thinking about how to get more “noggin pats” and peanut butter.
Ultimately, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is appropriate that “Thoughts of Dog” isn’t explicitly political, and people following the account shouldn’t feel guilty about treating them as an escape. No one needs to focus 100% of their attention on political issues, and consuming “Thoughts of Dog” tweets along with credible news sources seems like a healthy media diet. There’s no shortage of political news and encouragement to be politically active on the Twitter, so if “Thoughts of Dog” wove some politics into its narrative, it wouldn’t really be doing anything that isn’t being done already. In fact, it’s most original in its current state because so little of the internet is as free from politics.
Constantly being surrounded by fraught political discourse is overwhelming and just unhealthy, and there couldn’t be a more wholesome or neutral escape then tweets about a dog giving “snugs” and “borking.” Even though the account is fictional, “Thoughts of Dog” does the internet a service by remaining insulated from politics and reminding its followers that there’s still good in the world.