The dog community is, on the whole, one of the most antagonistic, abusive, and destructive, especially online and on Social Media Platforms. Ok, a lot of people in the dog community are great - but a growing number of people are making it a really toxic environment.
I think few people will argue that there can be a lot of negativity when it comes to dogs, dog training and dog community on the internet. I have witnessed that this negativity discourages young and beginner trainers to the point of leaving dog sports and a great hobby altogether, which is really a shame. The only one hurt by this is our dogs. What always bothers me is how wholly unnecessary the majority of it is - mostly cheap sarcasm and dismissive and rude or defensive attitudes that benefit no one, when a bit of constructive criticism or being open-minded and humble would be far more beneficial for all involved.
One of the big factors for Social Media Toxicity is the online animosity. Many people use fake names or hide behind pseudonyms and believe that they aren’t held accountable for what they say on these platforms. Another problem with this is that people tend to attach wrong emotions to certain comments another person has written and they start reading into things that aren’t actually there. In person to person conversations, one person speaks while the other demonstrates his or her listening by displaying various non verbal body language. By their nature, FB posts, comments, etc lack these elements of human communication that convey the most meaning, like facial expressions and tone.
Within these communities I find a lot of passive aggressive behavior displayed via quotes and memes that say something, often seemingly politely, gracefully or even cryptically, but the intent behind the message is condescending, patronizing, and deliberately posted to make a definite point.
Many people think that vaguely communicating through quotes, posts to their own wall or comments or likes on other people’s pages is a subtle and artful way to get a specific statement across. However, it is a destructive and damaging way of interacting and although the message may appear peaceful on the surface, the energy behind it is often far from it.
We may also be paranoid or misinterpret what someone is writing about, or wrongly pick up whom, if anyone, it is directed at.
If you do research in the online dog groups and forums over 1 out of 3 comments is mean or sarcastic. Its really a shame, because a lot of useful knowledge and opportunities for feedback and connection are often lost. That’s why you won’t see me participation in online dog forums and groups. A lot of people don’t understand that the power of evolving in your quest to better your relationship with your dog and achieving your dog sport and training goals lie within community, a positive that is.
No one person ever has all the answers, regardless how good your google skills may be. Community gives collective wisdom. Some days your goals just seem impossible. On those days that you want to give up, you should be able to lean on your community, to find support and belief or come up with new and innovative ideas how to help.
So dear Toxic people thank your for freeing up so much time as thanks to all of you I am not drawn to spend a lot of time on online forums. Thanks to you I can spend my time with the one that deserves it the most, my dogs.
- Bart de Gols -