By Katherine Grand
I have been spending a lot of time lately thinking about all the good and bad things social media and our technological world has brought us. People are more connected than even before via technology but in many ways we are losing our humanity and real human connections. Through my work at Prois I do a lot of work on social media to promote our brand and with that comes a lot of good, bad, and just plain ugly. This has especially been evident with hunting celebrity Melissa Bachman’s horrible harassment in response to her legal lion hunt in Africa. We all know that hunting is controversial and we and everyone else in the hunting industry receive their share of negative comments. Anti-hunters have become more vicious than ever dolling out horrible threats and wishing death, torture, and worse on hunters and their families. Attacks on hunting women, especially young attractive ones, are consistently more focused and malicious as we do not fit into the typical stereotype of what a hunter or a woman should be.
Most hunters understand how vital hunting is to conservation and preserving the wild places and animals we love. This is especially true in Africa where without hunting to make protecting the land and animals profitable they would be destroyed. This is evident in Kenya which banned hunting in 1977 and has since lost 85% of its wildlife . http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2013-11-19-in-defence-of-a-lion-killer/#.UozLL8RQGtb. One can list all these facts any many more to anti-hunters to no avail. No amount of scientific evidence will change someone’s mind when it is falling on deaf ears. What I really don’t understand is why do people seek out images and content they know they will not like? As a girl before I understood why people hunted I never would look for pictures or videos I knew I would find upsetting. I did not go out of my way to harass people for doing something I didn’t personally agree with yet.
However this does not just apply to hunting. On the internet I have noticed more and more people leaving awful comments on content that one would think would be immune to criticism. While this is nothing new for some reason it’s been bothering me a lot more lately. Even an adorable video of a young girl riding her horse garners criticism on her riding position, her tack, and her mount. Once you release a photo, blog, or any media into the great beyond, there is no telling who grab hold of it and tear you to pieces. People often leave comments regarding our company or products with no real regard that we are a small company and there are real people behind the Prois name. Furthermore we take criticism more personally than we’d like to admit. We are not just faceless cogs in a corporate world.
It could be worse. We could be celebrities who people do not see as real people either and mercilessly insult and judge on social media daily. This was really driven home while watching a segment called mean tweets by Jimmy Kimmel. This segment is hilarious but really made me think about all the people that are hurt by anonymous people sitting at their computer dolling out brutal comments about everyone and everything on the internet. If you’ve never seen this segment it’s worth a watch. This segment features celebrities reading mean tweets written about them by “fans.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRBoPveyETc.
I have always been a big proponent of if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Would these people say these things to celebrities if they met them face to face? Would they threaten Mellissa Bachman and her family if they were able to confront her in real life? Would that anonymous horseback riding critic tell that little girl she was a terrible rider in person? Perhaps a few would but the majority would not. It is so much easier to say and do such mean things anonymously to people you don’t know when you aren’t confronting them in real life. When did manners go out the window? When did we all become an expert and a critic on everything? The more I learn the more I realize how little I know and how ill equipped I am to pass judgment on anyone else. Why not get out and live your own life instead?
I personally try to focus on the positive and if I don’t like something I try to move on and not direct my time and energy towards negative pursuits, comments, and feelings whenever possible. So, next time you feel motivated to leave a mean or critical comment online picture yourself standing face to face with that person and ask yourself if you would still say the words you are typing. Is it worth it to spread hate, anger, and negativity? Do you have all the information you need to pass judgment? Instead of being against something, why not be for something? How solidly built is the glass house you are throwing your stones from? Do you want hate and criticism to be your legacy or instead can you focus on love and positivity? Just my two cents for the day. Do something kind and loving for someone today. Tell someone how special they are. Recognize another’s accomplishment. Take the time to notice something beautiful and work to make a positive change in the word. Our lives become what we focus on and I want my life to be filled with love and happiness. How about you?