Delivering a random mixture of good, bad and bizarre posts at the best of times, social media has been a mixed blessing for angling.
But what are the most common habits that grind our collective gears these days? Dom Garnett dons his tin hat and goes online...
Fishy fingers and magical scales
Perhaps it was inevitable in the age of online ego pumping that catch pictures would enter a new era of showiness.
Nowadays, even the most casual anglers will shove fish so far out, the viewer almost gets slimed. Now, was that perch 4oz or 4lb? Scotland Yard detectives couldn’t tell!
Here’s one I caught earlier
If it wasn’t galling enough to see everyone’s amazing recent catches, plenty of anglers also constantly pepper their walls with not so new and decidedly ancient pictures.
It’s a real ace card when you’ve caught absolutely nothing. Just add the hashtag #flashback right at the end and it’s completely kosher, apparently.
“Here’s a 5lb perch I had… during the Siege of Troy.”
Desperate digital marketing
In the scramble to get recognition, the courting of sponsors and tagging of products is rife.
The confusing part is when the anglers are not even getting anything in return, beyond a meagre discount, and yet still pepper their outpourings with branded pleas for attention.
Even if the closest they got to wearing #costa was spilling a coffee.
Struggling to get any traction with your recent posts? Then spruce them up with shedloads of hashtags. Okay, so you might start with #fishing #angling #carpfishing or even #backofthenet.
Pretty soon, though, you’re into the realms of the niche hashtag, from #wintercarprigs to #dropshottingforgudgeon
Although you’d take it over genuine arrogance, false modesty is another annoying online trait.
This is at its worst when you show off a fish that 99 per cent of us would be thrilled with and downplay it as if you catch them 10 a penny. A 3lb chub or 10lb pike becomes a “nice little fish” or a blank-saver for the biggest online egos. Is it any wonder that not one of your thousands of online “friends” ever bought you a non-virtual pint?
“My office for the day”
While smugness is common online, this phrase is an especially galling way to show everyone that you’re #livingthedream in a way mere hapless mortals cannot. Just to clarify things, that isn’t an office and we hope you blank.
I’ve had such a “tough” day’s fishing!
It’s a hard life being an online angler. When not posting PBs from the Stone Age, you’re compelled to share your epic struggles, right? Like today’s harrowingly fishless session, along with excuses one to five.
Because, let’s face it, going fishing is much harder than working a 50-hour week or looking after a family, right? Tiny violins at the ready…
The good and the bad...
Connecting people: Clubs and organisations are able to put out news or calls for help in an instant. From working parties to coaching sessions and match results, Facebook has been excellent for traditional clubs.
Specialist groups: Whether you love barbel or ultra-light lures, there’s always a friendly group to share the passion, and this has allowed even the most niche anglers to meet kindred spirits. It has also helped integrate foreign anglers into UK angling ways and catch and release norms.
Connections and friendships: Making new online connections needn’t be merely a recipe for digital tittle-tattle. In so many instances, the result can be real life angling adventures and friendships that endure long after we log off.
Online hate, trolling and conflict: Seeking to capitalise on our emotions and keep us online for longer, social media platforms play to our most aggressive, base instincts. With real world courtesy all too quickly abandoned, the results can be toxic, from needless arguments to racism and even direct threats.
Mental health impacts: Various studies have shown that excessive screen time can be detrimental to mental health. This is truest of younger users, but applies to everyone. Whether it’s sacrificing time for real world interactions, or making needless comparisons to others’ achievements, our moods can suffer.
Division: You only have to look at issues like foreign anglers in the UK, predation or even learning fish care basics to see a world of hostility and intolerance.
TIPS FOR STAYING SANE ONLINE!
No platform or online experience is perfect, but here are a handful of ways to keep calm and carry on scrolling without undue stress!
Limit your screen time: It is so easy to overdo technology these days. Set yourself time limits and stick to them, with a healthy gap before you sleep. Real books and magazines are much better for your brain!
Respect is key: You won’t go far wrong by applying real world courtesy to digital interaction. If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, it’s not okay online, period.
Avoid or block if necessary: If another user is quite obviously aggressive, offensive or plain ignorant, why get involved? Delete any “friends” who aren’t worthy of the name, or simply use the block button.