Ahhhh, the peculiar world of the internet, and social media, in particular. This artificial alternate universe in which complete strangers have no problem approaching you and say things they absolutely would never say if meeting for the first time face to face. I had such an incident like this occur this morning. Now, if this was the first time something like this has happened, I'd chalk it up to being merely an isolated incident. However, since this is the 4th time something like this has happened, I feel compelled to address it.
On my IG account, I had a follower I do not know personally (who lists herself as a "certified dog walker") pop into my DM's and say,
"Hi Laurie, I got a sponsored post by _______________________, I checked them out and saw that you follow them. I looked at their posts and saw they use prong collars and ecollars. Didn't know if you were aware, so I thought I'd give you a heads up!"
Why, oh why does that happen so much on the internet? It's as if people nearly burst at the seams to reveal information they are just so sure no one else has discovered besides them! :rolleyes:
So, while I always find this behavior presumptuous and annoying, I gave her the benefit of the doubt that she was well meaning and simply responded that I follow a lot of trainers, and a lot of trainers follow me, both positive reinforcement based as well as balanced. Also added that I'd been in the industry for 35 years, so have accumulated many trainer friends who use different methods than I do, and hopefully I can be an influence to them.
Well, my answer apparently wasn't good enough. She pushed on. "Don't you care your followers will take this as your endorsement?"
Still trying to maintain my calm, I reiterated, "Again, I follow lots of people on my social media, even celebrities and politicians who I downright disagree with, but for information, not as an "endorsement." I then thanked her for her concern and ended with "Happy Training."
The end of the story? Nope. I guess she didn't like that I didn't respond with something like, "oh thank you so much for enlightening me, I will go and unfollow right away!" Instead, she kicked into passive aggressive mode, accused me of being "defensive" and proceeded to patronize me by explaining how I was wrong about "how the internet works."
So how was your Sunday morning?!"
As I said, this is the 4th time that I can remember someone private messaging me and asking me "if I knew" about another trainer I happen to follow. So let this be my official announcement for all .,........... STOP, JUST STOP! I certainly can't and don't profess to speak for anyone but myself, but as for me, I am very clear about who I am and how I train. And anyone who takes even 5 minutes to research my social media or my website can learn about me and what I am about. If you have a question about how I train and the methods I use, feel free to ask away. But if you are going to judge me based on other trainers (out of thousands) that I follow, then so be it. Further, if you think you are going to be able to manipulate and control who I follow,, you are very, very mistaken. Let me say here and now, IF someone makes the mistake of approaching me in this manner again, you will be immediately told in no uncertain terms....... MIND YOUR OWN DAMN BUSINESS!!!!!
This brings to mind a blog post I wrote 4 years ago that went viral within the dog training community, "Just Shut up and Train." I don't think it's a coincidence that all 4 times this has happened, the culprit has been a very young and new positive reinforcement trainer. As I said, I've been training dogs 35+ years, so of course I am a cross over trainer. Nearly everybody who has been training 25+ years likely is! So suffice to say, "some of my best and longest standing trainer friends are, you guessed it, balanced trainers! I am not at all afraid to admit that through the years, even recent years, I've learned some cool things from highly skilled balanced trainers that I've been able to fit nicely into my force free, positive training program, and at the risk of tooting my own horn, I'm fairly sure some have learned things from me as well. So I say to you young and newbie positive trainers, the day you think you can only learn things from trainers swimming in your own pond, is the day you limit yourself.
To ALL my fellow positive reinforcement based training community, we really need to do some self reflection. I have never, nor could I ever imagine a balanced trainer (especially someone I don't know personally) coming on my page and questioning why I follow someone else. Rather than spend so much time policing each other and worrying about what everyone else is doing and how everyone else is training, how about focusing on being the best trainer we can be and serve both the humans and dogs out there who need our help. We have a problem, guys. It was a problem 4 years ago when I wrote that first blog and it's still a problem now. We really need to do better.