Technology is moving on at a scary pace, when I was youngster (yes I know it was a long time ago!), there was no such thing as mobile phones, computers or video games and we all spent a lot of our time out in the open air enjoying activities like football, cricket and of course (or should that be coarse!) fishing. We’d never heard of terms like ‘childhood obesity’ or ‘cyber bullying’ and ‘trolls’ existed only in fairy tales, the world just seemed a nicer, more pleasant place, of course there could be an element of rose tinted nostalgia there, but they were very different times.
Nowadays everybody has a pc, laptop or tablet and a smartphone and their lives are lived online all day, everyday, for all to see, from the moment you wake up until your head hits the pillow again you get to see what your friends are eating, what they’re wearing and what they’re doing, you see their holiday snaps, Xmas presents and birthday celebrations, all in real time, as they happen. Then you get to see the hangover photos the following morning. Relationship break ups, marriages, births and deaths, it’s all there, nothing is sacred anymore. You can now find out what your friends are up to without ever leaving the house, or even talking to them (and it’s called social media!).
Now anybody that knows me will know that I spend a lot of my time on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and of course Blogger, if I’m not fishing or at work I seem to spend my life ‘Liking’, ‘Sharing’, ‘Tweeting’, ‘Retweeting’, ‘Commenting’ and ‘Blogging’. I’m now ‘friends’ with hundreds of people I don’t know and I’m never likely to meet (and in some cases don’t even exist!), I’ve had allsorts of porn, beheadings and generally unpleasant stuff posted on my wall and I’ve been invited to play a billion stupid games. Everyday I’m being told to share or like some photo of ‘Little Johnny’ who only has days to live, why?, what possible good can it do, it’s a scam people, the same as the ‘Share this or bad things will happen to you’, I’m sorry but Bo****cks!. Oh how I laugh when six months later the same photo of ‘Little Johnny’ does the rounds again and he’s still hanging on in there! You also have the ‘Click on the link to see what happens next’ type scams, uh oh, VIRUS ALERT, are people really that daft?!
I didn’t intend this to be a piece on slagging Facebook and it’s users off, as I am, after all, one myself, and I will hold my hands up and say I’ve been guilty of liking and sharing various competition posts on a regular basis which I know piss some people off, but hey, I really needed to win those lures or that baseball cap! For all it’s bad points, there are loads of good ones too and like most things in life you just need to be a little bit sensible. Through the various forms of social media I have made some great friends and contacts and everybody now has better access to the top names in our sport than ever before.
As I touched on in my previous post about sponsorship (which was very well received and can be found here – So you want to be sponsored? ), Facebook, Twitter and various blogs are fantastic for getting match results and info that is bang up to date and very often you can follow the big matches as they happen. So with all the news and match results now available on the same day are we reaching a point where the days of the weekly angling newspaper are numbered? I don’t think so, even if demand for physical copies is on the decline, I believe there is still a market for digital copies.
Along with all the match results that get posted online, lots of anglers now update their status with how that days match went, some are quite brief and some are more detailed, almost a mini blog, if you like. Now I think that’s great as I love to see how people have got on and how various venues have fished but I do have a couple of issues with it. Some anglers will post regardless of how they’ve got on (Des Shipp and Scotty Russell are good examples of this) which is how I think it should be, it shows they are human and have bad days and bad draws too and it gives hope to mere mortals like me, so massive respect to them (and others) for that. Then on the other side of the fence you have the anglers who only ever post when they’ve done well or the ones who update their status to say they’ve had a bad day but it’s always because of the swim or the fishery is too peggy.
I can understand they want to keep their sponsors happy but nobody is going to win all the time and I think their peers would respect them more and ultimately that has got to better for their sponsor than them throwing their toys out of the pram all over Facebook because they drew a duff peg! Not only is it very unprofessional when you hear them describe a fishery as a ‘cess pit’ or a ‘s**t hole, they have to remember that it’s somebody’s livelihood they are slagging off and as respected anglers they should know better. There is no fishery in the country where every peg is equal, it’s part of what makes our sport so great.
When an angler does post on Facebook that he’s won a match or framed, is the rest of the match fishing fraternity pleased for him? On the whole, it would seem not, if all the comments like ‘Bunghole’, ‘Not another end peg’ and that old favourite ‘Well, he should have won from there’ are anything to go by! I realise some of it is just match anglers ‘banter’ (which sometimes doesn’t translate that well when you see it on the screen and is sometimes taken out of context) but a lot of it isn’t. We do seem to be pretty good at congratulating the guys right at the top of our sport, it’s just everyone else we seem to begrudge a ‘Well done’ or at least that’s how it comes across most of the time.
I make no secret that I’m not a big fan of massive weight venues and as a consequence I don’t tend to fish them very much but by the same token I don’t slag them off on here or on Facebook, if you don’t like it, don’t go, simples. Similarly if a particular method or bait dominates a venue, you have two choices, either get up to speed so you can compete or go somewhere else but don’t moan about it (yes I know I’ve said I didn’t enjoying going to Dillington when it was all whip fishing for bits but that was my opinion. I wasn’t slagging the place off or knocking the guys that are very good at that particular method, I was just saying it wasn’t my cup of tea and that’s the difference). I certainly would never call for a method of bait to be banned (unless it was harmful to fish), enough on method and bait bans for now, I think that’s a subject worthy of a future post.
I’ve always been quite proud that regardless of how I’ve got on, you get to read about it, warts and all, my good days, days where I’ve drawn a bad peg, days when I’ve cocked up a flier and I seem to remember having to post once after a rather heavy night when I slept behind my peg all day! There have been matches where it’s been painful having to relive the six hours again as I type away and I know some elements can be very repetitive which is why I don’t tend to go into too much detail with the rigs I use etc as it’s never been my intention to try and tell you how to fish (I leave that sort of thing to the experts) but I still love doing it (I must do as it’s been around nine years now!) and from the great feedback I receive I guess I must be doing something right.
Before social media came along, I always thought trolls lived under bridges in a land ‘Far, far away’ but it would seem they are very real and live behind keyboards all over the world! They are never far away and always willing to put somebody down, throw in a spiteful comment and in the fishing world they are constantly looking for a ‘bite’ (if you’ll excuse the pun!). In the early days I would respond to these comments and ‘often rose to the bait’ (sorry!) but realised quite quickly that was what they wanted so now I just don’t get involved. If I’m asked a genuine question I will do my best to answer it, I welcome any feedback good or bad (as long as it’s constructive criticism!), feel free to engage in some fishy banter but anything abusive or rude will be deleted and the same goes for any spam or ‘phishing’ comments.
Almost on a daily basis I see somebody ask a question on Facebook about what pole they should buy and everybody pitches in with their favourite brand before it descends into a ‘My poles better than your pole’ slanging match. Similarly the other common debate seems to be people pledging their allegiance to rivers or commercials and then trying to say it’s more skilful to catch 20lb of roach than 200lb of carp or vice versa, basically who cares? There is no right answer to any of those type of questions, it’s all to do with personal preferences and doing what you enjoy doing.
At the end of the day, the internet and social media are fantastic resources and if anglers across all disciplines actually united instead of getting involved in all the back stabbing, snobbery, elitism and the rest of the general nastiness that goes on, we would be one hell of a force to be reckoned with. I won’t be holding my breath though, in that respect us anglers are our own worst enemies and I can’t see that changing anytime soon.