John Holliday: Social media — handle with care *H&H VIP*

Opinion

To ’gram or not to ’gram, that is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the tweets and hashtags of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against the internet. And by opposing, end it. It may be the question but like it or not, the all-pervading internet — with all that it entails, good, bad and ugly — is here to stay.

During several puppy show speeches in recent years, I and the congregation have been cautioned to be wary of social media or “avoid it” altogether. This, I would suggest, is not only rather silly, but for anyone under 50, entirely unrealistic. While email is still anathema to some oldies, it is now old hat to most and the various forms of instant messaging have long since taken over.

Mobile phones are, brace yourself, not only for making telephone calls. Indeed, even I have an Instagram account (@belvoirhuntsman) with which I try to demonstrate some of the enjoyment experienced in kennels and while hunting.

I receive queries and questions from people all over the globe and try to answer them all; a time-consuming but, I hope, worthwhile thing. I also have a Twitter account in which I’m inclined to be a little more opinionated

Learn to deal with it

Video is recorded and posted or, in actuality, broadcast live, from wherever and whenever. The BBC and ITN are becoming redundant. One result of this phenomenon, I think, is that the traditional news broadcasts are becoming more sensationalist to compete.

As mentioned in previous dispatches, the Daily Mail’s website MailOnline is a classic example. Carefully edited videos and statements from animal rights extremists are frequently hastily posted verbatim, without any attempt to corroborate facts. I suppose news journalists are struggling to be relevant in an era when everyone has become one.

The point is that social media is unstoppable, so we have to learn to deal with it.

At the coalface — you and me — we need to understand how our actions can be misinterpreted and act accordingly. One can be very easily drawn into discussion, or more likely arguments, with our opponents, but it’s much better to avoid this, to ignore them and move on.

It is your legal right to defend yourself but never forget that you, the courts and the Daily Mail will never see the full video, only the bits that make you look foolish and in the wrong. Having made mistakes myself, I speak from experience. Hunt saboteurs, in their silly paramilitary outfits, already do a fabulous job of making themselves look like criminals and thugs — they require no assistance.

New job anyone?

As advertised in Horse & Hound recently, there are three important full-time vacancies to fill at the Hunting Office, and Simon Hart has stepped down as chairman of the Countryside Alliance to take on a ministerial role.

While age and experience always remain most valuable assets, is it too much to hope that at least one of these openings goes to a youthful candidate experienced in the dark side of media operations?

The prime minister’s “special adviser” Dominic Cummings might be free come Halloween…

Ref Horse & Hound; 19 September 2019