Saturday, 4 July 2020

Can I still just go birding?

Time and again in recent weeks I’ve found myself watching old footage on the TV and becoming wistful for what were far simpler times. It isn’t just a case of these times being pre-Covid, although that certainly has a major impact on such feelings.

You could call them thoughts that are indicative of an ageing individual, looking back at times that are comforting through familiarity. But that would be too simplistic.

Can you remember when birding was about, well.... birding?

It has now become politicised.

There is now (at least within the realm of social media) a suggestion that we measure our activity against our carbon footprint. That we have to have an opinion on whether or not we are inclusive enough towards race, gender and sexual preference. That we know exactly where we stand on driven grouse shooting, owning cats, bird photography, twitching, patch birding, noc-migging, etc, etc, etc.

Of course, some of these subjects are important. But... sometimes the want to turn back the clock to a time when going birding, talking about birding and writing about birding was just ABOUT BIRDING. And nothing else. We did have a social conscience back then, but it was not tangled up with our leisure activities. Social media does, of course, play its part in the combining of these subjects. Opinions about ANYTHING - sport, food, travel, lifestyle, you name it - have become entwined with the social issues of the day. You are expected to know where you stand. You are called out on it. You are encouraged, even demanded, to nail your colours to a mast.

Where are the oases from the chatter of politics? Do we have to now accept that everything requires us to question what everything means? That we have our own clear policies and that they are clearly stated?

Or can I still just simply go birding?

6 comments:

Marcus Lawson said...

Just go birding Steve, they are all hypocrites anyway but believe they are above it all.

Derek Faulkner said...

I would of thought that in the main, your day to day routines are mostly about ""just birding", with of course other flora and fauna as side attractions. You stay true to your local area and Dungeness and simply get on with birding with, as far as I can recall, few if any, diversions into awkward topics. The only real difference to how it was years ago is that you can now write up what you experience in your regular blogs.
For the whole of my adult life I have stuck to simply birding on just Sheppey, haven't been tempted to twitch or use long lens cameras, or bird watch more than ten miles from home etc., so it can still be done. I have however, found it far too easy to get drawn into some of the debatable subjects that you mentioned.

Ric said...

Steve, in fishing we have an expression, 'Ignorance is Bliss'. It stems from the way that our early experiences of the pursuit are not cluttered or confused by too much information, much of it negative. It make's life simple.

Much if not all of what we do is in some sort of context. And the way social media and other forms of modern communication works. That context is likely to include everything that is possible, including politics.

We can't go back to the way things used to be. We also can't do everything either. We have the choice but also too many choices as well.

But it is possible to simplify matters. Just a question of which items to dismiss.

Fear of Missing Out. Isn't that the modern dilemma? Easier for those of who are happy with our lot.

Steve Gale said...

Marcus, Derek and Ric - best solution is to not look at Twitter!

David said...

Steve: I share your frustration! It does sometimes seem as if we're expected to sign up (metaphorically!) to one group or another. I photograph wildlife: have done for fifty years. The main difference these days is that the equipment is far better (as are the results) and I don't have to wait two weeks for the out-of-focus results to come back from Boots! And, of course, I can share my images via my blog, Twitter and Facebook. I don't consider myself to be a 'Togger' or 'Twitcher' or any of the far worse things I've occasionally been called by some of the highly-politicised inhabitants of the social media. It did take a while to learn the lesson that it is possible to ignore these negative individuals, while enjoying the feedback from the more traditional birders! Here's mine: I LOVE your blog: you have a fantastic prose style that is redolent of a simpler, more honest age! Keep it up!

Steve Gale said...

David, I know where you are coming from and it seems as if you have found a way to deal with ‘now’. And thank you for such kind words.