The New Social Platform
Gone are the days of mailers, a back page newspaper brief, university class, or waiting for the monthly journal to arrive a-la-mailbox for the latest training buzz from the top world instructor. Access to millions of bits of intellectual property float incessantly around every social media platform that exists and much of it without a footnote or resource listed. Social media is now how we get our information out to people and often educate ourselves. These platforms can certainly be invaluable avenues for teaching, demonstrating and exposing wonderful new articles and sharing training tips and advice quickly and with wonderful accessibility. What comes along with digital accessibility, however, is anonymity and interaction.
Platform Or Soap Box?
When accessibility and anonymity meet online, the interactions can become, at best, thought-provoking or educating. At worst, attacking, bullying, ugly, demeaning or misinforming. Even dangerous. The purpose of this blog is to bring these conditions to light, and for us as educators and professionals to really use social media carefully and expertly. Regardless of what your method of delivering information is, use caution when opening a can of worms….
Each person is an individual. When our online ideas are attacked some of us will tend toward standing up to our aggressors and others of us may just sit reading the thread, seething (yours truly). Let me be clear about what I’m suggesting: It’s not our difference of opinion that’s no good; it’s how we share it.
Copernicus, Columbus, Newton and Einstein were all brilliant men that had to prove to the masses something that was outside of a current belief system, even beyond opinion. Wait, isn’t science always right? Why would we challenge science? Well, to move forward and ask, “is there a better way?” Questioning science is the best part of science. If we can remember that science isn’t static we can be better at keeping our mind open to new theories and practices in the world of training and behavior.
Things change when discoveries are made. Just this month, six female anthropologists found a new type of human! As we know, new information added to current knowledge is how we advance. When we as individuals are so rooted in “the one way” that something works, we are closing off the possibility of becoming more skilled and effective.
“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are
presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new
evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is
extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it
is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize,
ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.”
― Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a strong intellectual scientific conversation online, but I have a set of criteria that must be followed for an intelligent conversation.
• Facts – back up thoughts with credited articles and/or journals.
• Politeness – comment and ask respectfully, ask for clarification first (yes, this goes for me, too!).
• Topic Focused – as we respond, are we discussing facts or are we taking things personally?
• Reputability – spend your time in groups that have a great code of conduct and that monitors their threads.
Here’s an excerpt I like from Lisa White of Positive Pet Advice:
CODE OF CONDUCT
• Treat people with respect. Even if you disagree with them, they, like you, are entitled to feel free to express their opinions.
• Do not bash, put down or insult anyone, no negative personal attacks/comments. You may argue the idea, the method or the opinion, but do not attack the people.
• There is a difference between being passionate about something and being aggressive. Aggression will not be tolerated.
• Rudeness of any kind will not be tolerated.
• Name-calling will absolutely not be tolerated.
• You will avoid criticizing others for their choices. By refraining from criticizing, you are opening up an audience to listen to your message instead of making them defensive.
• Follow your own training advice: Ignore what you don’t like and acknowledge and reward what you do like. Also, give alternative options.
• Positive reinforcement is also expected to be used for people too.
Choose Your Camp
The sheer magnitude of people online is amazing, and the beauty of life is having choice. Even with choice, some people will choose to believe in dominance theories and the use of force and coercion. Rather than feeling it my job to change their mind, I chose a long time ago to know that it’s not my job to sway people that are happy shocking dogs and popping collars, but to focus my energy on those who want my knowledge. Otherwise I sometimes feel like I’m spitting at the rain. By focusing my energy on people that are craving knowledge and want to do what’s right (in my opinion) for their dogs, I can be most effective. This way my energy spent can be most effective if I work in the forums where the people and advice is congruent to whom I am. In other forums, I have found sometimes it’s best to just walk (or click) away.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:
“Never argue with a fool or a drunk; people standing by won’t know who the fool or the drunk is.”
Get Dog Training Business Tips!
Receive valuable dog training business tips and resources every week! Subscribe to The Modern Dog Trainer now by submitting your name and email below.