We are, without doubt, living in unsettled and intolerant times. It is normally the case that birding (or birdwatching if you prefer) allows escape from such feelings, a comfy place in which to lose those negative thoughts and feelings. But intolerance seems to be even stalking these safe havens...
Social media - be it Twitter or Facebook - has seen an increase in what can only be described as attacks on fellow birders. Their crimes? To be considered as being less proficient in the field. These 'weaklings' can be identified by their inability to identify the quarry. By their need to ask others as to what they are looking at. By not carrying a field guide. They are also chastised for having the temerity to carry with them expensive optics - you see, the attackers feel that only those worthy of such optics should possess them, and by worthy they mean experienced people, those accepted by the herd and somehow worthy. PEOPLE LIKE THEM. I have seen such posts to openly suggest that these people are shunned, even discouraged from turning up to look at birds at all.
This show of entitlement to some 'higher moral ground' sickens me. It is elitist. It is bullying. It is a symptom of our warped times. There have always been arrogant birders, anti-social birders and frankly strange birders. But not in such number. They now have a platform, a place from which their opinionated bile can be spewed and their frustrations in life taken out on others - largely anonymously. They wouldn't do it face-to-face, as they are largely cowards. It is one of the evils of social media platforms.
At a time when nature is being harassed by loss of habitat, political indifference and global warming, it needs all the help it can get. Each and every person that takes an interest in looking at birds should be welcomed with open arms and warmly encouraged - not driven away with a dismissive snarl by some pompous oaf.
We now live in a world where it's OK to lie, freedom of speech makes it alright to be aggressive (because to question such behaviour is perceived as attacking a human right) and the keyboard at a computer is an entry point for intolerant individuals to identify and attack their targets. It may be just a few birders having a pop at some others, but that's not the point. It is symptomatic of a wider disturbance in our society.