What Happens on Facebook Stays on Facebook

A Reading From the Book of Face

The year 2020 has come to an end…and all those social media posts are coming with us to 2021.

In March of this year, dog shows were in full swing when exhibitors were suddenly sent packing. Clusters were being cancelled well in advance of their closing dates and the entire fancy simply, painfully, closed for business. Exhibitors, handlers, judges, and show chairs unexpectedly found themselves cut-off from the dog show community. Without any pre-planning, many fanciers stayed at home full-time with children who needed to be homeschooled. Others had parents and grandparents they were not allowed to visit. Some had to plan funerals they could not attend.

Mercifully, video conferencing platforms such as Zoom made virtual connections possible, and social networking sites such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook allowed everyone to stay in touch. Initially, the new stay-at-home lifestyle provided some relief for handlers whose livelihood depends on weekly transcontinental excursions. However, the newfound freedom also presented a downside; a dark side. In no time at all, stress levels started to rise. Many idle exhibitors sought solace at their keyboard (and refrigerator), offering commentary on everything from the future of dog shows to the future of the civilized world. Suddenly, everyone was a social media influencer with a brand identity and opinions to spare. As we now know only too well, free-flowing sentiment can be met with resistance. Opinions posted in response to a tweet or two can lead to remorse on the part of the sender, and disappointment—or worse—on the part of many receivers. Righteous indignation has become the order of the day. For every “like” that’s posted on Facebook these days, a strongly-worded challenge appears in the comments section that results in public displays of animosity and rancor. Battle lines are drawn and emotions run high, all due to the ease with which opinions are shared instantly—and rebuffed furiously—in a world that’s gone mad.

When the pandemic is ultimately extinguished and we have all returned more completely to the world of dogs and dog shows, it won’t be the posts and comments themselves that will be remembered. Instead, it will be their “tone” that lingers. The details of posts on social media are likely to be forgotten, but the feelings they evoke may be harder to forget.

The following resolutions may be useful to keep in mind as we all return to our “new
normal” lives:

  1. Keyboard King/Queen – I will resist the temptation to comment in real time about the “stories” I’m being told through television, radio, print and online news sources.
  2. Master My Emotions – I will endeavor to comment (online and in person) only in ways that would make my grandmother and my baseball coach proud.
  3. TV Time – I will limit my consumption of televised “news” programming that is designed to stir my emotions and lead me to the keyboard.
  4. Outdoor Adventures – I will routinely disconnect from all media outlets and find a balance in the natural world—with only my dog at my side.
  5. The Parent Trap – I will be patient and understanding of those who are multi-tasking as teacher, counselor, therapist, nurse, employer/employee, spouse, child, and parent.
  6. Boredom Bliss – I will take comfort in the quiet moments when there are no demands, and I am able to disconnect and listen with my heart.
  7. Make a Difference – I will do everything I can to promote the benefits of the purebred dog and the sport that has brought so many good people into my life.May the year ahead bring you all the joy that you have been missing.
  • Dan Sayers covers the sport of dogs with a particular interest in purebred dog history and breed preservation. His articles feature notable icons of the past as well as individuals who work tirelessly to promote purebred dogs today. A self-taught artist, Dan’s work is represented in collections worldwide and his illustrations appear in the award-winning Encyclopedia of K-9 Terminology by Ed and Pat Gilbert. Since 1981, Dan has been an exhibitor of several Sporting and Hound breeds. He’s bred Irish Water Spaniels under the Quiet Storm prefix and judged Sweepstakes at the parent club’s National Specialty twice. Dan is a member of the Irish Water Spaniel Club of America and the Morris and Essex Kennel Club.

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