When I bought my first and only (........ so far!!) Barbet I had the naive expectation that, being such a worldwide numerically small breed, compared with other breeds with which I’ve been associated, most, if not all, owners would be able and willing to co-operate and work for the good of the breed and that the politicking I’d encountered within previous breeds/clubs would be non-existent .......
HOW WRONG I WAS!!
Although there are bound to be cliques and factions in any breed or community, within a numerically large breed these are less likely to cause foment through opportunities to grab and exercise power and influence. Initially, many of those who have been in a breed the longest assume the mantle of knowledge and experience which, very often (although certainly not always) is totally justified; this may be done consciously or by default. As time goes by there is an emergence of “Young Pretenders” and the “old timers” (rightly or wrongly) often feel their position to be challenged or even threatened, but instead of opening their metaphorical arms to these newcomers and sharing their experience openly, they close ranks and take every opportunity to tighten their grip on their power! Whilst this is understandable up to a point (many of the newcomers ARE out to challenge or threaten the “old timers” – I have experienced this in the past) I find it sad that it just serves to emphasise divisions and reinforce differences. Newcomers are “recruited” by one faction or another; some breeders demand or encourage “undying devotion” from their puppy buyers, who then become their acolytes, by laying down all manner of conditions and the situation becomes more and more entrenched. In my opinion this is not good for any breed. Knowledge and experience are often not acknowledged and shared graciously but are seen as a threat rather than an opportunity to develop and improve a breed, community, club or other institution. Provided any criticism is reasoned, positive and constructive, I believe that it should be able to be accepted by any intelligent adult without fear and not seen as a possible putsch!
I have entitled this piece “Facebook – Friend or Foe” because although I am an internet “addict”, use Facebook myself and believe it to be a great tool in many ways, it can also be very divisive. Whereas, in pre-FB days there were large fora where all interested members of any particular community, canine or otherwise, could engage, now, with individual pages, community pages, open group pages and closed group pages those people with a common interest are channelled into smaller cliques and factions often operating behind “closed doors”, or even worse, in public, but anonymously. Rumours and gossip abound. The concept of FB “Friends” is a dangerous one – individuals ask others “Are you friends with so-and-so?” The reply is often “Yes” when, in fact, the two parties in question have never met, never had a proper conversation and are basing this so-called “friendship” on a perceived affinity, click of a mouse, a desire to know what’s going on in another clique, a fear of being excluded, a desire to be with the “in crowd” or other spurious motive. One has only to look at the number of FB friends sported by some people to realise that the whole situation can become farcical!
Recently I have observed a lot of “back-biting” in a “community” to which I belong. I try to stay out of it most of the time and make it my policy not to be unkind or rude to others in a public place; I make every attempt to stick to facts (except when openly writing “opinion pieces”, for example on this Blog!) Text too, can be dangerous as subtleties of meaning can be misinterpreted, translation misunderstandings abound and as a result all sorts of falsehoods can be unintentionally (or intentionally) promulgated; again, in my opinion this can be extremely deleterious to the community, or the individual, concerned
A previous post “Pride, Megalomania or Money” covers some of the same ground as this piece, for which I make no apology. Of course any individual is entitled to his or her own opinion (as you can see, I am always willing to express mine!!) but surely these opinions should be able to be expressed without individuals having to suffer vitriol or “cyber-bullying” as a result?