Tuesday, 24 January 2017

A symptom of our warped times

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.

11 comments:

  1. Steve, I would love to be able to offer some kind of, informed, observation about this type of cyber bullying, but can't! I don't inhabit twitter or Facebook, so would be fraudulent if spoke out.
    If I were to meet such criticism in the field, I would ruin them, no holds barred. How any one can deem others less worthy is what wars are based on. Birding optics? Get real - Dyl

    ReplyDelete
  2. They are called 'keyboard warriors'. And it is rife within other aspects of life. I found myself trolled over an opinion I had regarding a stock car meeting last year by a group who deliberately missed the point I was making on a forum. However, this year I have been taken on in an official capacity (media consultant) within the sport and predictably some of those who wanted to hunt me out of town with pitchforks now want to be my best mates. People are strange, Steve. Best to just ignore them and be the best person you can be. If they can't cope with it, that is their problem.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Confirms a lot of my long held dislike for certain types of birdwatchers/long lensers. I wonder if that kind of treatment is also the reason that we so few young birders out and about now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know if at 36 I now count as young.....but my experiences haven't encouraged me into the wilds over the years - probably from my mid twenties. So yes I reckon it does discourage.

      Delete
  4. I was derided for saying I had seen bearded tits on some marsh land near Eastbourne.......until a "proper border" "discovered" them a fortnight later and it was then big news........put me right off. I have moved far away since but still find I just rather keep myself to my self and enjoy what I see but don't network at all. It's a shame because I would learn more by having some contacts and perhaps others would learn from me a bit too. But no, it's too stressful so head firmly down over here!!
    T

    ReplyDelete
  5. Interesting comments Timothy and I doubt that you are alone.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Generally I think birders take themselves far too seriously. It is just a hobby.
    That said, I don't think that what you are observing online is unique to birding in any way, it is prevalent is any group activity or shared interest. I have a number and it is the same in every single one of them, birding is not the exception. It is human nature. The tragedy, as you point out, is that we are moving towards a place (or we are already there) where this is the norm and perfectly acceptable, and in all walks of life.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks for all of your comments.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I didn't comment. I have a pair of Swarovski binoculars, you see.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Steve, I do think the intolerance and cyber bullying you speak of is more prevalent amongst the twitching community, judging from some of the comments I heard recently when the hoards were down for the `stonechat`. On Twitter, for example, a twisted mind has even set up a spoof account of one well known twitcher, who happens to be an old pal of mine. Just as sad are the hundreds who follow this drivel. As you say, sad times indeed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We could always set Barney onto them!!

      Delete