On The Habit of Getting the Back Story
I have been seeing too many fellow bloggers subjected to all sorts of unfounded judgment lately. Come to think of it, it’s a pervasive attitude on social media in general. It has me asking: Why is there this need to criticise. Where is the desire to do so publicly coming from? And why is there a sense of entitlement attached to the behaviour?
Recently, I stumbled across a delightful fine art photography series: Little Kids and Their Big Dogs. Sadly, in the comment section the conversation was quickly deteriorating from “These are gorgeous” to something far more sinister. The downward spiral started when someone pointed out how dangerous the situation was for both child and dog. And although there is nothing inherently wrong with the statement, the lack of research and accusatory wording was troublesome.
Rather than the commenter stating something like: “Please leave this type of shoot to professionals that know how to keep both dog and children safe”; what I saw instead were accusations of irresponsibility, stupidity, name calling and child/animal abuse insinuations thrown at the parents, photographer and even the Art FB page for sharing the collection.
People were quick to say that although they understood these particular photos were art, they feared it would encourage folks to duplicate this at home in a DIY way. The long list of imagined horror stories showed just how creative humans can be. And it left me shaking my head because we’ve been on the receiving end of this behaviour more times than I care to think upon.
I can’t tell you how much hate mail I receive on a weekly basis from people who accuse my bipeds of putting me in harm’s way. Some have actually threatened to call animal welfare on us, because of photos like this one:
What’s the worry with this photo you ask? I am on a ledge, without a leash or even a harness.
Here is why all this inflammatory fuss is a problem. Instead of asking “how did you safely achieve that photo?” people prefer to be judge and jury. In fact – they feel entitled to. And frankly that’s not ok. It boggles the mind that although I am so obviously loved, many people assume that my life has been intentionally put in danger. It is one of the most preposterous and infuriating things. It’s also incredibly uncouth.
Have any of these concerned folks stopped to think of what they don’t see? Have they considered that perhaps steps were taken to ensure “safety first” while still achieving such a shot? Are they inquisitive and asking about the training? Do they enquire on how we achieved the optical illusion? No. they prefer to feed the frenzy fires … or light them.
More surprising is that no one seems to jump to the conclusion that we use Photoshop (we don’t actually, but you would think they’d at least consider it!). Photoshop (and there are a bevy of software’s and apps to choose from) can be used to remove pretty much anything from a photo. Anything from cosmetic issues such as tear stains on white fur to much larger things like an unwanted passerby in a big red coat, an electrical wire in the sky… or a hand in the way. To give you a stellar example of this let me introduce you to Scruffy Dog Photography: as you can see leashes ARE used but get removed digitally if desired by the client.
Maybe I am playing devil’s advocate here but for those that say that kids should not ride dogs… well, kids shouldn’t ride Lions either. But two little girls do just that in the Witch, the Lion and the Wardrobe book and more recently the movie.
Do we hold Marvel Entertainment responsible for someone tying a cape to their shoulders and trying to fly after purchasing a comic book? Where do we draw the line? Is it a case of “real world” versus imagined? Because let us be honest: since any gaming platform, painting, cartoon, movie and photograph is a potential teachable moment; are artists and now bloggers going to be expected to place a warning label on every photo because we know the viewer isn’t getting the complete story but assumes they are?
I ask you Dear Reader, are these folks harsh and judgmental because it’s easy to hide behind a screen and pseudonym on social media? Has it become too easy for us to seize an opportunity to feel righteous and thus better about ourselves? Is it a case of “knight in shining armor” syndrome that makes self-declared specialist think they must shout “J’accuse…!” at every opportunity? And do we need to stop brushing it off as “haters will hate” and actually address this poor behaviour? Is it even possible to silence the unconstructive criticism?
I don’t know. I wish I had the answers. But on my blog, if you’ve got criticisms, try asking first and getting the back story.