After The Pope ‘insulted’ Bats On Twitter, This Bat Expert Stepped Up And Educated Him

Did you know that the current Pope, Pope Francis, has a Twitter account? He even has his own Instagram page! The internet is truly a place that manages to connect anyone and everywhere.

What does the Pope do with his social media accounts? Uses them to connect with people on all matters of faith, of course. He has been using modern tech to reach out to the followers of Christ for as long as he’s been the Pope. Oh, and there was also that one time that he got schooled on bats.

Apparently, the Pope has a Twitter account that he uses to connect with Christians by tweeting mini sermons

Image credits: GPA Photo Archive

In one of the Pope’s most recent tweets, he used a metaphor of a bat when talking about sin. More precisely, he said that when we are in a state of sin, we are like “human bats” who move about only at night. He went on to talk about living in light and darkness with urges to see the light and to live in it. Now, a new educational bat enthusiast Twitter account called Give Bats A Break was created earlier this month, and the Pope’s tweet was the perfect opportunity for it to respond and to shed some light on how bats are actually the good guys, despite working in the cover of night.

Bored Panda got in touch with the man behind the bat Twitter project, who asked to remain anonymous, but said we can call him Bruce as some of his Twitter followers have begun referring to him. Get it? Cause it’s Batman. However, he himself avoided that title as “Batman” seems a bit more than what he can claim for himself and others more worthy in the field of bats, namely Merlin Tuttle and Tom Kunz, already bear that nickname.

“The Pope has quite the social media following, so it was only a matter of time before I ended up seeing his tweets in my timeline,” explained Bruce how he ended up getting technical with his Holiness’ words. “I read them, considered what he was saying, and didn’t necessarily disagree; but I did think that he could have invoked bat imagery in a way that was more helpful, both to the Catholic faithful and to bats.”

He continued: “The Christian life is not only about what we should avoid (being in a “state of sin” and thus living “in darkness”, as the Pope said), but what we ought to actually do and be in the world. Other places in the Bible point to animals as instructive examples for the cultivation of human virtue, so I thought using the bat in a similar manner, based both on scientific knowledge and biblical precedent, was appropriate. I wanted to help create a positive connection to bats. My 4-tweet thread is the result.”

One of his latest tweets used bats as a metaphor for living in the state of sin and darkness

Image credits: Pontifex

Image credits: Pontifex

With all due respect, even referring to the pope as the Holy Father, he explained that, on the contrary, the darkness empowers bats to deliver an invaluable service to the ecosystem and the community. This service comes in the form of pollinating flowers and trees (allowing us to enjoy their fruits), eating bugs and pests (thus the lesser need for pesticides), and helping forests recover after disasters by spreading seeds. Quite a twist on the common view of bats, ain’t it?

Give Bats A Break continued by quoting the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 6, Verse 1 and using it as a basis to say that bats practice their good works in the darkness and serve as an example of how diligent in service we ought to be. All of this in the face of the bad rap that bats get.

However, a bat PR Twitter account, Give Bats A Break, came out to defend bats, saying they’re the good guys

Image credits: GiveBatsABreak

Image credits: GiveBatsABreak

We asked Bruce about the inspiration behind the bat-focused Twitter account—he gave us a short, but inspiring, history: “The inspiration for the account is rooted in a childhood love of bats. Students were asked each year from preschool to 5th grade what we wanted to be when we grew up, and my response all but one year was: a bat scientist. (The one-off was astronaut.)”

“When I was 7 or 8, I wrote a letter to world-renowned ecologist, conservationist, and chiropterologist, Merlin Tuttle, expressing my love for bats and the wonderful pictures of them that he took and, to my utter shock, he wrote back to me! My mom says the letter is in a keepsake box somewhere, so I’ll have to find it eventually. It’s actually an article of his, written for Issues in Spring of 2017, that gave my account its name, Give Bats A Break.”

“I didn’t end up becoming a bat scientist, but with all the bad press bats have been getting since the COVID-19 pandemic began—inflammatory tweets that gain traction, click-bait-y headlines that get shared around, both blatant and well-intentioned misinformation—I wanted to make an account that portrayed bats in as positive a light as they should actually be viewed. I had initially intended to make it a bat picture bot account, but that didn’t seem like quite enough to stem the tide of negativity (not to mention that I’m not smart enough to write bot software and am a social person that likes interacting with followers), and so the educational, learn-with-me iteration of the account was born.”

Image credits: GiveBatsABreak

Image credits: GiveBatsABreak

Unfortunately, the Pope has not responded to this yet. However, given his Holiness’ stance on climate change and the subsequent impact that it has on animals and, even further, humans, one could assume that the Pope said those things with all due respect to bats, acknowledging that they are a necessity to the ecosystem, and that he was just using them as a metaphor to give more appeal to his message.

The internet found it extremely entertaining to see a bat PR Twitter account schooling the Pope, of all people, on how bats are the good guys here. This led to Give Bats A Break gaining a modest, yet significant amount of attention and followers:

“Holy smokes, was I surprised! So many tweets ended up drowning in the comments, so for mine to cut through the noise was a shock, and the fact that I was able to generate a generally wholesome conversation rather than the usually toxic debates that break out in the threads of viral tweets was gratifying,” explained Bruce his surprise.

He continued: “Going from 200 to 7,000 followers in only a few days left my head spinning, and I hope to use the attention I’ve gained in a responsible way, one that is beneficial to the efforts of bat scientists and conservationists. I get to send out cute bat pictures and videos, link cool articles and essays, share helpful books and resources, bring attention to wonderful bat poetry and art; but they are the ones out in the field knee-high in guano, or in the labs sequencing the genomes of all extant bat species, or picking up injured bats from local neighborhoods and nursing them back to health. I want the people that follow the account to see and respect and appreciate them. If they do, then this will all have been worth it to me.”

The internet found this not only super entertaining, but also enlightening and fun

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As an educational Twitter account, Give Bats A Break gave us a brief Hobbit and Lord of the Rings inspired PSA on what we all ought to know about bats

“Bats are beautifully enigmatic creatures. For as much as we now know about bats, and for as much research as has been done on bats in recent decades, there is still so much to learn about and from them,” explained Bruce.

“Bats are little sky Hobbits: lovers of good food and drink, of the company of their friends and family, of beautiful gardens; they aren’t very fond of adventure and tend to “disappear quietly and quickly when large stupid folk like you and me come blundering along” (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit), not pleased to have had their peace disturbed; wonderfully diverse and, on the whole, happy-go-lucky, cheerful creatures.”

Bruce continued: “Like Frodo (and Bilbo before him), they will fight if pushed hard enough, but it takes a great deal to get them to that point, and they must feel that they are very much in danger. Bats are beneficial economically, ecologically, agriculturally, and in other countless ways, and if people won’t value them based on any intrinsic value they have, then they should consider valuing them because of the boon they are to our communities and, indeed, to our lives.”

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Besides the unique entertainment everyone got, you now know more about bats, breaking any stereotypes that you may have had previously, which is a job well done in Bruce and Give Bats A Break. Know of any fun facts about bats? Or cool stories of your encounters with this cool creature? Why not share them in the comments section below!

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