I’ll use Facebook groups as the main protagonist here in this social media show
In an age where social media is the goto platform for a person’s want to “learn”, for basically whatever subject you seek, topics, there will be threads, videos, write-ups, photo’s, whatever, it can all be found at your fingertips.
But the Reptile community has to be the most toxic, confusing, rivalist, egotistical section I’ve witnessed.
What’s so bad?
I’ll use Facebook groups as the main protagonist here in this social media show.
You can go from group to group, forum to forum, and be surrounded by hostility, lies, fake people, aggression, and keyboard warriors. This makes it extremely hard for those legitimately wanting advice and help to gauge what to actually take-in. It’s a tough world online, unfortunately.
That’s NOT to say everyone and everything is bad. Not at all. But more on this later.
I had 3 or 4 other facebook “friends” whom I invited to help
So, let me tell you a story……
I’ll tell you about my own personal issues, it all started around 5 or 6 years ago, I ran a Facebook group, still do (now have several) but the one in question is Chameleon Network (was Chameleon Britain back then).
I had 3 or 4 other facebook “friends” whom I invited to help. And they happily accepted the journey with me and were up for the challenge.
Incidentally, these were not actual friends in the sense that I knew them personally, I didn’t, I’d never met them, or even spoken verbally to them. Never. Not once. Only via facebook, and PM/DM.
Anyways, all was going fine for a year or so. And then, BOOM!…….If i remember correctly, one didn’t like my stance on NOT allowing rehome’s within my group. I had my reasons. One of which, It was taking away from what I intended the group to be. And fact based learning group, and fastly becoming a ‘rescue’ group. Not my overall goal. That was certainly the reason she gave anyway (My reasoning since proven correct, as even Facebook itself agrees now, haha). So she upped and left. To which obviously I was sad about, as she was a great help, nd great adim. But wished her well (got no reply).
Later that day, I get a message from one of the guys. He stated he was leaving, but no reasons given. But it was kinda obvious lol. And then the remaining 2 or 3 all left the group. Leaving myself and one other person whom is a very good personal ‘actual’ friend whom stuck by me from day zero, and Is still within my admin/mod team to this day.
I think the next day I get word that they started their own Chameleon group. Together.
This at the time did annoy me, but I let them crack on. What was done was done in my eyes. Nothing I could do despite my efforts to find a solution.
But then a few weeks later the rumors and lies started. I have no idea why such unwarranted hate without any proof of anything thy were slandering.
They even got my family involved with one incident. Almost cost my marriage too. It was something they had no business In even talking about.
And so many other lies continued. Lies which I have since proven as lies. Looking back, it’s quite comical.
Still, I cracked on. While these “people” even banned my name from being mentioned in their group (think that still a thing lol). And even said to one of the companies I write for they’d lose custom if I continue to write for them.
I DO still write for them incidentally, and many others, and they go from strengh to strengh by the way. Just saying 😉
Also on another note, there is (was, not sure they are still a thing) another Dragon group. The admin absolutely hate me. For no reason. I’ve not even ever spoken to them. Nothing to do with them. Never have been. Even via PM. Ever. It’s proper weird, and not much common sense being used. But anyway, I digress a little…… 🙂
Okay, sure, I guess I did probably have my say at the time about these people, and could of handled it much better, so I must take a little of the blame. But they went above and beyond. Personal. And for someone to do such, when they don’t even actually know me………horrible people.
I have seen a couple of these people since a few years on at a UK Reptile show. Me being me, even tapped one on the shoulder and said “hi”. She looked at me, then just 100% blanked me. Was ridiculous and extremely childish. I was with my wife and young daughter too.
I have since tried to mend bridges also over the years. Even though It should be them apologising for the crap caused. But I’m being the bigger person here. No replies. But as others have since told me…..It’s their loss, and forget about them. So, I have in that sense.
One of those that left I have since re-connected with though, only a few weeks back, and we had such a good conversation. Was lovely to speak with him again. And we will remain In touch.
Fast-forward to 2020 – Personally, I’m very happy with my groups. And where my social media has allowed me to be. Since those others left me in the lurch, I have had the same admin/mod team in my several groups for the past 5 or 6 years. We are great colleagues. Some whom I DO actually know personally. So that does help 100%, and I honestly could’t do any of it without their help and support in what is important to us all within those groups. Thank you my current admin/mod team. You rock! .
Regarding the other groups, I don’t involve myself with the fickle mind games and incidents in other groups. I’m in only a few which I believe have great information and of which some of the admin/mod teams are great people. What other groups do is their issue, not mine. And I certainly don’t take it to heart as I did before if there is issue with me or my information within them. Let them crack on.
That doesn’t mean I don’t see issues still within social media, even In the limited groups I’m In. I do. And most of the “good” groups will shut this crap down once seen. Can’t fault that. I just feel for those innocently seeking advice and getting abuse, poor advice, or so many conflicting information snippets, they leave feeling even more disheartened.
I do try In my groups (link to all here) to keep ALL the information up-to-date based on the latest science, tech, and keeper collective knowledge. And I’m lucky to know some great minds within the hobby which allow me to express such within my writing and groups, be it via tested equipment. Direct questions answered. Lectures attended and given, etc etc. I’m extremely grateful to these people. And it’s these people that keep my own fire for exotic keeping burning, even after 33 years of keeping reptiles. You know who you are, thank you.
But over a keyboard, typing, it not that easy.
With that being said, despite my own groups and many other people’s efforts, advice I/we give is simply not going to agree with everyone. This is human nature. Disagreement and conflict. It’s why we elected governments after all, to aid making decisions. And even then we disagree with those decisions. You simply can’t please everyone.
But if it’s a face to face conversation, you stand a greater chance of getting valid points across, and allowing for reason to be seen by all involved via proper discussion.
But over a keyboard, typing, it not that easy.
This often ends up a war of words. One person’s method would trump another persons method because they’ve been doing such for ‘x’ amount of years. Or their breeder friend knows a Vet that went to a zoo once, you get what I’m saying right 😉
The fact is, every social networking group/site/forum will provide a vast majority of varied answers. It’s up to the researcher to find a group with common members, those whom you can see know what they are actually talking about. And importantly, those that don’t involve themselves in petty online bickering which is still a parasite in groups to this day.
And don’t involve with those that fuel the fire in these war of words either. There are many of these people about too.
‘Group rivalry’, a phrase I’ve mentioned already, and it’s a huge problem. Not only does it cause the group admin/mods to dislike other admin/mods in other said groups, but these people have no idea “why” they are aiming this dislike. It’s just because one or two of the other admin/mods have, so those narrow minded people follow suit. Wouldn’t dream of having there own opinions.
This is such a shame. As this inner hierarchy following is such a disadvantage to each and every member within that group. As It’s due to this, that shared and vital care information is dismissed, withheld, and thus, that groups members miss out on potentially reptile lifesaving/life improving information. All because of petty admin(s).
the care and welfare of the Reptile and Amphibians we are using as subject within our groups. This IS priority.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, there are great groups around. Within my groups for example, I have many ‘allies‘ so to speak. People whom are often admin In their own groups, but we have a mutual respect about what is important here, and that is the care and welfare of the Reptile and Amphibians we are using as subject within our groups. This IS the overall priority to us.
And I will call upon these people when needed. If I’m researching an article for example. We just help eachother out. It’s something that I’m very grateful of, and certainly don’t take such friendships for granted.
How can we change?
That’s the big question here. How can we change?. I don’t think it possible to clean up the groups and forums of the bitchin’ and nonsense. I mean, I still see it in my groups from time to time, but we soon shut it down if need-be, so I’m not saying my groups are perfect in that regard. But I know that the information provided within Is current. Is based on fact. Is legit. But I will allow for discussion and listen to keeper research. As this is the only way to move forward within a hobby that is ever advancing due to the knowledge discovered and lernt of a species almost daily. This knowledge obviously affects the advancement of tech and science used in our keeping, and so on and so on. So In this regard, my conscience Is clean. It simply can’t be ‘our way or you are out‘ within a group. A way adopted by so many.
As I always say, there are many ways to achieve the needed setup parameters for a said species. So discussion on how best to provide such IS vital, and shouldn’t be subject to the bitching and aggression often seen. How is anyone supposed to enjoy these beautiful Reptiles and Amphibians if they are just getting abuse about their setups without the chance to change and make amends to any misinformation they have received?.
We are ALL trying to achieve the same goals aren’t we;
- Better care.
- Better knowledge of the natural climate and environment of a species.
- Longer living Reptile and Amphibians.
- More enriched Reptile and Amphibians.
- And more enjoyment for the keeper with that Reptile/Amphibian life in their hands.
Surely that means we should work together, right?. So why all the group rivalry?. Why all the hate from people towards others they don’t even know?. How is this helping anyone? especially these new young keepers which are potentially the future of many of these species.
Remember, you can absolutely have your own opinion. But you can’t have your own facts 😉
This wasn’t a post for me to air my dirty laundry as they say and spill dirt on a few people. Not at all. If you think that, then you are not seeing my point.
I needed to explain my own experiences to validate what I am saying for the discussions I’ll no doubt get when I post this within my various social platforms. My experiences with the toxicity within social media made me grow as a person, and I’m much better and relaxed about such for it.
Anyway, my point is……we all know social media can be toxic. That’s not going to change anytime soon. All you can do is aid and support those that matter within the hobby. Those that a willing to learn. Those that share the goals already mentioned above. And those that are willing to guide others and listen to reason and opinion, and come up with actual facts. And for me, most importantly, those that aid you on your own journey. As we are ALL always still learning. If we knew it all, this hobby would get boring pretty damn quick wouldn’t it 😉
So, If you truly want the best for the animal you keep, you’ll do the proper research.
Ask many question. And then, question the answers you are given.
Remember, you can absolutely have your own opinion. But you can’t have your own facts 😉
And If you for some reason take offence to what Is written here, I urge you to see the bigger picture.
Oh, and don’t go asking me to give you names of people and/or groups…..not gonna happen.
I’ve long since moved on and forward. Whether they have or not, Is not my problem. Nor do I care. The above was just used for context for the main point via experience.
Also, I know some may try and cause issue with this blog post by passing it to those they think It involves. Well crack on. This is NOT my intention at all to cause issue.
But the side-effect of such nonsensical involvement is it’s certainly a good way of trimming down my Facebook friends list 😀
Published author of herpetoculture.
Featuring articles on many species within,
Practical Reptile Keeping magazine (some linked on site as .pdf files).
Canadian Hobbyist magazine.
Also, Reptile/Amphibian blog article writer for;
Northampton Reptile Centre
Exotic Direct (links on this site)
Public talker at Reptile meetings, for various organisations.
And founder of several huge Reptile and Amphibian related Facebook groups (links on this site)
Reptile Reports – “Lizard Personality of the year” 2016 – 2017