There has been a little grey cloud following me around this week, as a FB user decided to comment on a couple of my posts in a negative way. First I was told that I am not a writer. I am writing to share the joy that I get from doing what I love with others, and maybe I’ll inspire some people along the way. Just because I don’t meet the perception someone has in their head about what a “writer” is doesn’t mean that I am not. I decided to just block this person from my friends list and carry on. There was no point in arguing with someone I don’t know about something that ultimately didn’t matter: their opinion of me. I’m assuming they were upset that I blocked them, because they went out of they’re way to comment the next day on my blog’s FB page on a post I had shared, saying that “your blog stinks”. Again, I just decided to block this person from my page and move on.
Now in between the time when I read these comments and made my decision to leave it alone and block them, there were a lot of things that ran through my mind. At first I was angry. Flat out just ticked off. Why do they care so much about me writing about what I love? Why did they take the time to go out of their way to just be downright rude? Nobody is forcing them to read my posts. Then I got really upset and self-conscious. What if other people read these comments and agree? What if they already agree and just never commented to that effect? Then I just went into a spiral of self-doubt. Why am I putting myself in this situation? What is the point? It really bothered me. I talked to a friend of mine, and she said to me, “didn’t you just tell me that someone messaged you thanking you for sharing your post? That has to count for more than one rude guy.” How quickly we forget the positive side of things where there’s the slightest bit of negative.
I went back and re-read that message I had received just last week from another woman: “Thank you for your post this am. You are directly speaking to my heart. I am on a plane, bound for Austin, Texas. I am doing an all women’s aoudad hunt. I haven’t hunted much….and I am hearing all of those negative messages in my head. I need to let go. I needed to hear your words to remind myself to breathe, learn, and rise up. Really, THANK YOU.”
That, I reminded myself, is the point. If sharing my stories helps encourage and uplift anyone, whether it be 1 person or 100 people, then that is the point.
Don’t be mistaken, I am not looking for anyone’s pity or to be told that I am right. The comments didn’t really surprise me. There is always going to be some sort of negative feedback surrounding just about anything, especially when opinions are involved. I know that not everyone is going to agree with me, or even like what I have to say, and that is totally fine.
The message that I have to share here is a simple one: once your words are out there, there’s no taking them back. You don’t know how you are going to affect the person on the receiving end.
Hunters and anglers are, unfortunately, a dying breed. We are also extremely tenacious. We talk about wanting to get more people involved in these sports. Every hunter I know talks about how they want more new people to be involved, how they wish more youths were interested, and how there aren’t enough new hunters. It is a constant topic of conversation in this environment. Yet I constantly see hunters and anglers arguing amongst themselves, many times without regard for the other person’s feelings or opinions. I’ve seen people putting each other down for asking “stupid” questions or ridiculing and putting others for the ways they do things.
Before you let your high strung opinions lead you to say something to another hunter or angler who shows enthusiasm for the sport, whether it be on social media or in person, consider something; If the roles were reversed, would your comments be appreciated and warmly welcomed? Or are you going to discourage them from wanting to be associated with this community? Could you be killing all of that enthusiasm because you think that your way is the best way or simply that you are right and they are wrong? Can you help them learn with your information or opinions if it’s presented in the right way? There are so many different ways to hunt and fish, that there are bound to be different opinions. Everyone is different, and there is more than one way to do things. I think that sharing our experiences and knowledge within this community is so important, so I don’t discourage you from sharing your opinions, thoughts, and perspectives but rather carefully consider how you share them.
It is so easy for people to be hurtful, especially on social media. Social media has created a sense of power through weakness, because you can say whatever you please and never have to see how your words rub off on the other person. Some may not even realize they re doing it. On the flip side, it takes a lot of strength to be conscientious about how you come off and empathize with those on the receiving end of things. Which would you rather be?
Try to be mindful about how you present yourself, and your opinions. More importantly, just be kind. You could be the reason that someone decides they want to learn more about hunting or fishing, or you could be extinguishing their passion before they’ve had the chance to fully experience it.