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The Bubble – Social Media Musings


The Bubble – Social Media Musings

It was a year ago when I was writing my first column for SHOWSIGHT which came out in December 2022. I asked if social media was a blessing or a curse. One year later, I am now wondering if it has actually had its day or if it has gone too far, and not just in the dog world.

On Facebook, so many of my friends are complaining that they never see messages from their friends, and this was brought home to me when I received a list of birthdays and I saw the name of an old friend. I had not seen anything from her for a long time, so I checked her timeline. Someone was wishing her a heavenly birthday, so I scrolled back and back to see that she had died 3-1/2 years ago. We are no longer as connected as we were.

I have also been looking at it from another perspective. I think social media has become so vast in the number of options that are available that much is going to be lost and people will retreat further into their personal bubble. It is no longer just sets of e-mail groups and it is no longer just Facebook; there are multiple other platforms that people are using.

I keep it very lean myself: Facebook, LinkedIn, and I have signed up for some e-mail newsletters—no Twitter or Instagram or any of the others. But even with that, there’s too much; so much that I skim through e-mail quickly to see anything that is of momentous interest or of necessity for me, and delete the rest. I think one of the things we need to do in the future is slim it down and use what we need to use both professionally and personally, and only use those platforms that serve a purpose.

The other day I was thinking that I had not seen any alerts sent out by AKC regarding legislation, so I went to the AKC website. I had not seen any of their alerts that came out within the last 60 days. Did I miss them due to being overwhelmed or were they filtered out by an algorithm that I cannot control?

On the bright side, it seems that there are glimmers of hope for the dog show community. Some specialty clubs are now making efforts to encourage newcomers to their breed to join their clubs and enter the show dog world, with the goal that they will become exhibitors, and possibly, future breeders. This is an encouraging development and I hope it spreads, especially in the low number breeds.

I have also seen the negativity, of course, but it brings me back to another thing that I’ve mentioned in the past. It is what I call “the lost generation” of people who could have or might have become future breeders. At the beginning of this century, it was the beginning of the age of social media, and I thought it was going to be a good thing. The animal rights behemoth had been slamming the world with their anti-breeder sentiment and anti-purebred rhetoric, and I thought, hoped, that the newcomers to the dog world of that day would see the now public debates online, understand the threats of the AR agenda, put the AR claims into perspective, and join the good fight with the rest of us who had been resisting onerous legislation.

Twenty years later, many of those who were involved at the time have moved on for one reason or another. Age, health, personal issues, and what was called legislative burnout all took their toll. There were fewer people ready to resist proposed laws and restrictions. At the same time, the gradual decline in the active number of dog show exhibitors and breeders resulted in fewer puppies born and registered with AKC.

Traditionally, newcomers to any breed had to learn from the generation before them—and the generations before were revered. Today I see people who have come into it within the past, say, 5-10 years, and what they’ve learned has been from somebody who’s been in their breed for no more than 10 years and has no concept of what it was like to show dogs in the past. Old-style communication and discussion have gone by the wayside. They ask a question on a Facebook group and accept the words of the most vocal. I saw serious criticism of a judge because they did not “give the crossover” to another dog, and that the writer was never going to show to that judge again. There was a time when Best of Winners was meant to be the best of the winners and “the crossover” was not thought of as a right.

The average length of participation in the dog show breeding community is now said to be five years. How many of them could or would have remained involved for longer, and why or why not?

Discussing these issues with people recently, it became obvious to me who the people are that have been in a breed for at least 20 years and learned from other long-term breeders before them, giving them a greater depth of experience and knowledge than they would otherwise have had. The average length of participation in the dog show breeding community is now said to be five years. How many of them could or would have remained involved for longer, and why or why not?

This is where my so-called “lost generation of potential breeders” from the end of the 20th century comes into it. Those are the people who could and should have become persons of knowledge, carrying the history that they had learned forward into the future. As it stands today, will there be breeders who will still be active in another 20 years, or even just 10? Who will the generations from now on learn from and how much knowledge will have been lost across all breeds? As has been asked before—who teaches the teachers and who will be teaching the teachers in the decades to come?