New Year’s Resolutions: Social Media Etiquette

Cross Country. Photo Credit Lee Carson Cross Country. Photo Credit Lee Carson

Happy Holidays! We have officially entered the week of Christmas, and for the first time in years I am actually ready for it! I’m sorry it has been so long since my last update shortly after I finished my last event, but I have been running around trying to get through my first semester back in college.

I thankfully survived both my horse’s vacation (which was a major accomplishment!) and all six of my classes this fall.  I tried to keep myself sane by riding my hunt horses, although that is mainly conditioning sets, and shopping for a new project.

I was lucky enough to find an unraced 3-year-old gelding the Monday after my break began — Merry Christmas to me! He has stepped up to every challenge thus far, and I am very excited to see where he goes in the next couple of months.

I also began my break by going right back to riding five horses a day and being in the barn full time, which has been a wonderful way to wind down after school ended.  Goose is also back in full work and we are slowing piecing together our 2015 spring season.

Young horse on his first trail ride.  Photo Credit: Lee Carson

Young horse on his first trail ride. Photo Credit: Lee Carson

Since I was buried online looking at Facebook researching for my term papers, I saw a lot of interesting internet activity throughout the horse world, which led me to the focus of this blog post.

The equine world is a very small one, and even though you may feel you are protected by your unique discipline that really is not the case.  As I travel and meet more professionals, trainers, and riders I have learned that everyone really does know someone, who knows someone else that you know.  It makes for very interesting and fun conversations, but also leads to the social media factor within our sport.

Social media allows comments, whether they are true or not, to spread like wildfire.  Enough people sit behind their keyboards and surf the internet all day, just to label themselves experts that you never really know what you are getting yourself into.

Now, I am not saying that I always know what I am talking about, but I do my best to keep my comments limited to what I do know and understand.  The other day someone shared a screen shot of a post where a mother had complained about a service with a barn in Pennsylvania.  There were some very inappropriate comments posted as a response from whomever runs the facility’s Facebook page, and thus posting the screen shot poured gasoline on the fire and away it went.

I scrolled through some comments from event riders, hunter/jumper trainers, desk chair experts, and even the facility’s response to this post and just shook my head.  The situation escalated quite quickly, and while I understand why the mother was upset with the sale (I won’t go into all of the details because it turned into a he said/she said ordeal), she did not handle herself in a professional manner either.

I lost respect for both the farm itself and the mother for her comments and actions, all based on what I was reading during an emotional post and response.  I did not know either party personally involved, yet their reputations were instantly damaged in my eyes.

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I wish I could count all of the posts that I see online which openly speak poorly of someone’s farm or business on social media.  While everyone has reason to be upset at times, social media is not a place to voice most of these frustrations.

When you have an issue with an individual or business it is best to handle the issue behind closed doors, and then if you must tell your friends do so in person.  More times than not I have seen a business lose customers because an individual was angry because they did not receive special treatment, or other extenuating circumstances took place, and they were disgruntled for a short period of time.

While the poster feels better after they rant online, and some realize later that their post may have been immature and take it down, with the internet nothing is ever really gone.

An article was just posted about athletes losing their scholarships due to their social media accounts, and I thought that it should actually apply to everyone.  Nowadays most first impressions come from our social media accounts, so while they are “personal” they should always be professional.

If anyone who reads this is like me, then they did not enjoy rumors in high school. So with New Years right around the corner, why don’t we make it a resolution to take the negativity off of the internet?

You may think you are just blowing off steam, but you are a reflection of your connections, barn, students, and friends.  While you may just think you are blowing off steam, and that it is harmless because the person you are complaining about isn’t on social media, others will still view your post and it is a reflection of your own personal character, which affects you moving forward.

Wishing everyone a wonderful week filled of family and fun, remember to get those candy canes while they are out there for your four legged friends as well!  Until next time.

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