Country pursuits on social media is a tricky one, with so many people against the online networks and so many people quick to point out the negatives of them, they’re often overlooked as the great and powerful tool that they are (or can be) to connect, to be inspired by, to inspire, to learn and, yes, even to feel good about yourself.
Why follow people on Instagram, for example? I think Instagram is a good app, an interesting app… But I can see why some people would (quite fairly) disagree.
In the July issue of Sporting Gun, editor Kate Gatacre makes a very valid point about the way in which we treat each other online:
(Earlier in the piece she discusses the respect between hunters in America)
“Sadly, the more I look at social media in the UK, the more I feel this isn’t the case [with respect between hunters online]. Of course we should pick up on blatantly unlawful or dangerous practices, though it’s worth remembering that photographs and videos can be deceptive. However, all too often I see comments that put down other shooters. To place aggressive and sometimes offensive comments on these sites is incredibly harmful to our collective reputation, particularly when aimed at our fellow sportsmen. Just as bad for the public’s opinion of us is using offensive or aggressive language when debating with the antis.”
Our online presence defines us as individuals, and us as a collective. If you shoot, hunt, stalk, fish… we all contribute to the whole picture associated with so-say controversial country pursuits. We’re all alike and yet we’re not comrades online, companions in our similarities and hobbies, there’s still those negative connotations at large putting up a barrier. I’ve seen first hand how some users can be towards others, claiming that if a guy follows a girl it’s predatory and if a girl follows another girl it must be out of jealousy and to ‘spy’. Where did these unsociable attitudes come from? As long as we’re all safe and respectful to our countryside, we’re all in it together.
Well, as with anything, it’s those (hopefully minority) groups of people who do it for the the wrong reasons that give all users a bad name. I do it for the right reasons. I’m not afraid to follow people I don’t know on Instagram. If I come across someone who looks like-minded with similar interests and hobbies the I will turn that little white box green and not think any further about it.
Why? Because I use these people to inspire me, teach me things I didn’t know, and remind me of who I am, who I want to be and make me feel confident about that
I know someone who is a keen member of a hunt and will regularly post pictures, quotes, snapshots into the hunting lifestyle and her progress within it. But of course not everyone shares the fox hunting views and antis have been known to make some pretty extreme comments, however, having a network of other hunt members (not just of her own, but from all over the country) popping up on her daily feed helps keep her motivated and upbeat, helps her ignore the negativity that is thrown her way.
Female shooting was once considered rare, a minority in a male orientated sport. You may find that you’re a young (or relatively so!) female, with a love for shooting but… not many of your friends or the people around you feel the same. Some of my best friends are baffled by me going shooting, they just can’t understand it, but looking on Instagram it’s clear just how huge girls and their guns really are now and that’s something that inspires me to keep going and stay true to what I enjoy.
So let’s encourage the support, the follows, the adds, the new friends, the shared interests and one day social media might be better known for, and better appreciated for the good qualities.
If you are interested in the sites that do keep me going, I love The Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club, She Wolf Shoot/ Femmes Fatales, Rachel Carrie – all great for inspiration, and more importantly encouragement, for female shooting. The Countryside Alliance keeps me up to date on what I really need to know about what’s going on around me! BASC. And, well, so many more…