How Social Media Has Affected Deer Hunters

Posted on March 31, 2015

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You can buy attention (advertising). You can beg for attention from the media (PR). You can bug people one at a time to get attention (sales). Or you can earn attention by creating something interesting and valuable and then publish it online for free. – David Meerman Scott

 

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Social media such as Facebook has indeed had an affect on the deer hunting world. It has linked an entire cross section of hunters from every walk of life, much like one big deer camp, or better yet, the Boston Pub known as Cheers, where everyone knows your name. The big difference being, no one has to traipse to the old hermitage for a full months stay in order to be connected. Your friend list is just one click of a mouse away. However, convenience aside, your messages, comments, likes, images, and videos, which can be found instantly, constantly, globally and permanently may not be everything it’s cracked up to be.

In his book, The Company We Keep, Jonathan Holmes writes:

“For many of us, the influence of social media has created a new category of relationship, a kind of friendship bearing little resemblance to the biblical ideal. Sherry Turkle adds, “Technology proposes itself as the architect of our intimacies. These days, it suggests substitutions that put the real on the run. And these substitutions are not even especially satisfying – for all the conveniences and advances in technology that purport to “connect” us, loneliness and depression persist.”

In large, the ‘real’ not only went on the run, but has essentially left the building. Here’s how it all works. All one need do is set-up a profile page, created in whatever fashion you would like, place a profile image and perhaps a cover shot and voila, you have instant credibility. Everything that is shared on your time line is carefully screened and chosen by you and the people that get to view this are also chosen or ‘accepted’ by you. So, in essence you have created the person you want the world to think you are, all-the-while sitting in obscurity behind a computer monitor, smart phone or some other device. If that’s not enough, I personally know an individual that created a fictitious character and entire profile from which he frequently comments on posts with this account as a third party…REALLY?

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Social media has also made our hunting heroes accessible and facilitates us to follow their ‘conquests’. Some, who have become icons within the deer hunting community, personify themselves as humble, gracious individuals behaving with class and decorum. While others demonstrate quite the opposite characteristics, exposing to us all their narcissistic bents with constant reminders of just how impressive they are and how incredible what they do is.

Nicholas Tuffnell weighs in with the following observation:

On a slightly deeper note, there’s something about the relentless happiness of people on Facebook that I find monstrous. Everyone is apparently always somewhere better than I am and what’s more, they’re having a brilliant time. My life is not like that. In reality, no one’s life is like that, these are of course constructed narratives, our “best ofs” – but sometimes it’s hard to reason to yourself that these people aren’t having fun all the time when all you ever see of them is pictures of them having fun all the time. I started to have feelings of inadequacy and jealousy…and these people are supposed to be my friends.”

Have you ever had thoughts like that when viewing someone’s endless barrage of deer hunting anecdotes, kills, spills and anything else they deem critical for us to know? Well you’re not alone; I think many of us have.

We’ve all seen the individual that posts incessantly – with selfies included – who just can’t seem to get enough of him or herself and believes that everyone out there is as much in love with them as they are. Are they on your friend list? Yeah, we all have people like that on our ‘friend’ list don’t we? Just think how you’d feel if they actually showed up at your deer camp…yikes!

Facebook and Twitter promised us that relationships would be easier and their social network would essentially function as relational substitutes. What they didn’t share was the unintended consequence of seeing people for who they really are. I’ve learned far more about people as a result of Facebook than I would have otherwise known. Understandably, many of my FB friends are deer hunters, some of which are classified as “professionals,” while most are ordinary folks that are passionate about their sport. And with this list of varied personalities come the full range of qualities; the good, the bad, and the ugly. A lot of the disgusting traits most of us abhor are cleverly disguised with backhanded comments, sarcastic innuendos and flat out gloating. Now I may lose some friends over this piece, but in reality are they actually my friends or simply just people posing as friends in order to keep tabs on what their perceived competition is doing? Regardless, “Wisdom is justified by her deeds.”

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And then there’s the ‘Like’ button, the easiest option for someone looking to get their next emotional fix. Throw up an image of a dead buck with an approaching hunter and ask the facetious question, who likes that moment when you first walk up to your buck? Once posted, sit back to see how many ‘Likes’ that post can get. This function offers the aloof convenience to the viewing public to either ‘Like’, ‘Comment’ or simply ignore. After all, it is far easier to hit the ‘Like’ button than to actually take the initiative to engage in a personal way.

“Tuffnell succeeds”, explains Holms, “in exposing the grand lie of Facebook and other social media sites. While they promise connection and friendship, they often produce the exact opposite. Yet many of us continue to invest inordinate amounts of time into these sites, hoping they will deliver as promised. Like a government program gone bad, we try to convince ourselves that if we will only go a little bit further, this path we’re on is sure to take us where we want to go – we just need more of the same.”

Beyond the addiction component linked to social media, deer hunters have found an outlet that gives them a voice, a place to ‘show and tell’, a platform to make comparisons and satisfy their curiosity. And along with this technological podium, where everyone now has a say, of which the entire world can read, specialized groups are formed that key on specific aspects of deer hunting near and dear to them. Do you remember what our moms used to tell us, “It’s better to be thought of as a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt?” Yes, you have an opinion, but not everybody needs to know it…all the time!

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Unfortunately, as Holms writes in his book, the inherent promises of Facebook – that you can be connected to everyone, be friends with everyone – quickly leave their users disenchanted and even depressed. (And may I add, angry, envious, jealous and often frustrated?) “In the silence of connection,” writes Sherry Turkle, “people are comforted by being in touch with a lot of people – carefully kept at bay. We can’t get enough of one another if we can use technology to keep one another at distances we can control: not too close, not too far, just right.”

As with all human intrigue, the real person behind the online persona eventually gets revealed and becomes nakedly transparent on social media sites. Like intoxicating adult beverages that serve to relax inhibitions, this purveyor finds a faux bravado while sitting in their obscurity. They feel safe as their unrestrained inner thoughts are typed in front of a monitor; liberated when hitting the publish button; anxious as they wait for someone – anyone – to respond, and relieved when that someone does, favorable or not. And if that person happens to be an instigator, looking for the next ‘fool’ to come along and argue with them, even better; they’re now getting what they so desperately need and want: ATTENTION.

You see, social networking sites have taken what the biological community would call, the bar stool biologist – whose audience was anyone close enough to hear, or better yet, listen – to a whole new level that has the capacity to reach a multitude.

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Let’s face it, humility aside, everyone likes to be complimented on their achievements, especially deer hunters. But for some the only time we ever see them posting is when they have something to brag about. Does that sound like someone you’d want to have a relationship with? And when they pop-up it usually begins with something crass like, “BBD, pics to follow.” It’s as if everyone has been anxiously waiting with baited breath for them to reveal to us their recent triumph. And man, do they relish in all of the likes we give them, which of course only fuels an ever growing, insatiable appetite for more of the same. Sounds a bit like Hollywood doesn’t it?

Turkle sees through the underlying dynamics and explains:

Technology is seductive when what it offers meets our human vulnerabilities. And as it turns out, we are very vulnerable indeed. We are lonely but fearful of intimacy. Digital connections and the sociable robot may offer the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship.”

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The affect social media has had on deer hunters does not lie in behavioral modifications, but rather has served to reveal the true character in each of us that would otherwise remain unknown to a vast majority. Yet, in all of its convenience and instant gratification, it has done little to satisfy the longing in every human heart, which is the desire to be recognized and belong and to have relationships. It’s easy to have a crowd of Facebook friends because they require no real effort to keep; no investment; no time and certainly no emotional attachment. However, we are still a relational people. Why else would we bother to post?

 

 

 

 

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Posted in: Whitetail Deer