I know that I'm not the only one out there that has a Facebook page. And I know I am not the only one who is wondering where it all will go with the extent of angling sense, and nonsense, with today's vast, hip world of cyber-talk and social media. Consider the following:
There are many thousands of anglers, young and old, male and female and from all walks, who the entire world can view dozens, if not hundreds, of wide-grinned selfies of "grip and grin" fishing heroics of what appears to be nothing but big fish. Often, we get to glare at these monsters within hours, sometimes minutes, after the catch.
Mired in the realm of social media is an almost non-stop onslaught of such giant fish pics, each with its captor and classic hero poses. Along with an almost unimaginable volume of these postings is a legion of self-proclaimed "experts," each touting his or her "must have" products and gear that will surely put your smiling mug in the profile pic with that trophy rainbow, bruiser bass or monster musky.
The term "pro staff" apparently has two meanings ... one designates you as a "professional" angler and the other just means you get free stuff…"products" from whatever company you credit your success. Take your pick. And just for the record, my sponsor is my wallet. Terms like tag, share, join, follow, hashtag, unfriend, and like have new and interesting meanings as well.
Along with all the hype, glitter and glam is the sad fact that the anonymity of the Internet has reduced a large portion of our world to new "lows" in name-calling, one-upmanship, vulgarity, and profanity. What is going on here?
I will be the first to admit that I have fallen deep, deep into the depths of ego-boosting, self-soothing posts of the Facebook angler. It's an addiction and I post those confidence-building selfies and Go Pro images from almost every fishing trip I take. Seems we fishermen are hopelessly addicted to the "oohs," "ahhs," and the "atta-boy" comments and likes that we get from both our fishing friends and normal people, alike.
Which brings me to another crazy reality ... of all the Facebook "friends" I have, I know very few of them personally. A lot of them are always asking me to "like" something or another and "hashtag" the heck out of this or that, all things fishing.
Another disheartening reality, at least it appears to be, is that just about everybody is catching more, and bigger fish than I ever knew existed! Sheesh!
Just about the time you think you've caught a biggun' some 14-year old kid lands one twice the size of your personal best. It's embarrassing to old codgers like me. And to top it all off the angling world is full of critics who slam your catch due to the fact that you caught it on bait, or in private water, or on heavy gear, or while fishing with a guide, or in another state and on and on and on. Discrediting outstanding catches is a common occurrence on Facebook pages and is something that just wears me out. Can't we just be happy for them when someone else lands a big one?
No secret spot is safe, as "spot burning" is highly frowned upon. Sure, everybody wants to know the exact location of that huge catch, with the promise that "your secret is safe with me" bull. No honey-hole is safe as endless images with all too recognizable backgrounds decorate angler's timelines and newsfeeds.
I can remember back in the day when we would take some fishing pictures with our 'black and white" Kodak Instamatic camera, drop the film off at the local drug store, wait two or three weeks to pick it up and then giggle and spit over a bunch of off-center, out-of-focus photos. It was pretty easy to figure out which ones made the grade for our family photo album ... they all did! Now, just electronically send the images through the computer on your Facebook page and the entire world can view your catches before you have time to brag about the trip to your fishing buddies. Things sure have changed.
Indeed, there are many good aspects that Facebook has done for the fishing crowd. Fishing reports, new innovations, weather advisories and local conditions are essential for a good day on the water, and social media pages can keep us up-to-the-minute on these pivotal aspects of any outdoor activity. Welcomed too are the many concerned environmental groups and organizations that keep the public informed on regulations, concerns and outlooks that affect our waters and woods.
But as good and informative and entertaining as Facebook can be it often spirals to the lowest common denominator ... breeding jealousy and discontent. I sometimes long for the old days with the black and white photos and hot summer nights with a fan in the window. As soon as you got home from a fishing trip there were no computers to run to. The most important follow-up was a cold iced tea or beer and, if we were lucky, a stringer of fish to clean for tomorrow nights "suppah."