How has social media affected our sport? I believe this is a pertinent question for everyone.
Social media is a presence that seems to encompass every faction of our present-day lifestyle. It affects personal lives, jobs, education, politics, gender, and the list goes on. The list also encapsulates our world of dog shows, and at times, in a not so positive light.
Good dog, bad dog, good judge, bad judge, good choice, bad choice, good show, bad show, good exhibitor, bad exhibitor, good club, bad club, and bippity-boppity-boo!
Now, think, have you been a target for negative posts? Has social media affected you in your judging career or personal life? If so, did you react and how? When you see an exhibitor’s post of a win, do you comment about the dog or give a simple “congratulations?” Have you lashed back at posts that make negative accusations of your judging, or simply “let it go?” Do you get sucked into the drama and believe the extraordinary? Do you find yourself passing opinions regarding someone’s actions and/or comments of which you were not present to see or hear?
Much like most things in life, you have control over the outcome, and you are responsible for your choices. Be it at a show or on social media, your actions speak volumes to our dog show community. People often ask me what to do or say when negative chatter is lurking in the air; my answer is to do nothing. The less attention you give to negativity the quicker it disintegrates. Unlike face-to-face encounters, the great advantage you have when participating in social media is opting to NOT participate or just take a pause. Sometimes temptation is strong, and you want so badly to hit the send/post/share button, but just stop… take a breath, shut it down. Put yourself in the targeted person’s shoes, as it could be you who is next up on the SM chopping block.
The Poodle Club of America Junior Education program has an annual pizza party/luncheon, and we feature a guest speaker for the kids. Several years back we invited the now retired AKC Field Staff Director, Patty Proctor. Patty’s presentation was on social media, a hot topic for our upcoming generations of dog enthusiasts. After the presentation, for fun, we play a trivia game and give out small prizes to the kids with the correct answers. Often integrated into these questions are what we call the “takeaways” from the featured speaker, clueing us in on how well the Juniors were listening. One of the questions that day was:
“Miss Patty said you should consider these four things before you post on social media; what are they?”
With much enthusiasm, a Junior waved her hand in the air saying, “pick me, pick me,” and then gave her answer…
Is it necessary?
Is it true?
Does it improve on the silence?
Is it kind?
Perhaps we can all benefit from the “takeaways.”