Archive for category Opinion

Follow this – Why I don’t do Facebook politics – any more

nohostility

I did it again. I unfollowed a Facebook friend. I didn’t want to do it – I enjoyed seeing pictures of his growing family, and he was occasionally witty – but I grew tired of the bitterness and hostility of his posts. It’s ironic, because it was this kind of behavior that led to me to be banished by some of my own Facebook friends a few years ago.

It was in the depths of the 2009 economic downturn, and my business was struggling. Meanwhile, political leaders seemed to do everything possible to weaken the economy and the country I love. Social media made it easy to lash out.

It’s easy to find pictures, articles and video to give voice to your hostility. It’s much harder to think of how others might perceive them. It’s easy to involve yourself in fights with strangers who are hundreds of miles from your keyboard. It’s much more difficult not to add to the hostility. I did the easy thing almost every day.

If I saw a picture that was critical of the other side, I reposted it. When a political commentator wrote what I was thinking, I posted it, often with my own snide comments. When someone posted an opposing view, I challenged them. I made social media my battleground in a war to win minds.

Sure, some of my friends applauded my efforts, but they already saw things the same way I do. I wasn’t changing their thinking. I was fueling a wildfire. Likewise, those who I offended with my posts didn’t change their thinking. If anything, bitterness from the other side only strengthened their beliefs. I really wasn’t accomplishing anything but anger, and I got myself unfriended by a few who grew weary of my crusade.

I hate that I no longer see updates from the people who unfriended me. Social media is a fickle place, and it should never replace live human interaction, but it has brought me back in touch with several people. We might not ever talk or see each other again, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t care about each other’s lives. Social media allows us to stay in touch without really being in touch.

Because I value my friends, I won’t unfriend someone because of their political beliefs. I don’t care if you think our current president is a messiah or that conservative is another name for redneck. You might think that guns are to blame for crime and that trophy hunters are scum. It doesn’t matter to me. If you’re my friend, you’re my friend.

Initially, I was offended when others didn’t feel that way and unfriended me. How could someone be so petty to snub a friend over political views, I thought. Then, I backed off and observed the noise that continued. Some of it I agreed with, and some of it, I didn’t. If I agreed with it, the post usually incited me to anger, and if I didn’t, it still incited me to anger. I don’t want to be angry on social media or anywhere else for that matter, and I sure don’t want to spread that anger.

That’s why I unfollowed my friend’s posts. It’s not that I don’t respect him or his opinion. I just don’t want to be angry.

 

Note: You can unfollow someone and still remain Facebook friends. When you do this, you can still visit their page and see their posts, but their updates won’t appear in your newsfeed. It’s like not giving your obnoxious cousin your home address. If you don’t know how, it’s worth figuring out.

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Ask a Hunter

Legitimate hunters, particularly Nebraska’s recent mountain lion hunters and the winner of a Safari Club auction, have been unjustly criticized and misunderstood. The Nebraska hunters were called killers by a senator from their own state, while the auction winner, who will hunt a black rhino in Namibia, has had death threats. Understanding the roles hunters play in conservation and the purpose of these hunts might ease this tension.

It appears that there are three main contentions with these hunts: 1. The animals that will be hunted are beautiful, and as such, shouldn’t be hunted; 2. There aren’t very many of them, so they shouldn’t be hunted; and 3. The hunting methods used aren’t sporting. As an experienced hunter, I would like to address these misperceptions.

I’ve had the good fortune to hunt successfully some of nature’s most beautiful creatures, starting with a Nebraska icon – the ringneck pheasant. There are few birds as colorful and statuesque as a male ringneck pheasant. Hunters are captivated by this beautiful bird and fascinated with its canny behavior, and they will travel from all around the country and spend thousands of dollars for the opportunity to hunt it. The same thing could be said for Nebraska’s two deer species: the whitetail and mule deer. These are beautiful and graceful animals, and they are challenging to hunt. We don’t hunt these animals because we want to eradicate them. We hunt them because we enjoy being around them, and we hope to give younger generations the same opportunity. If we thought that hunting them would hurt the species’ survival, we wouldn’t do it.

With every license we buy and much of the equipment we purchase, we contribute to government efforts to preserve wildlife and protect habitat. In addition, hunter-funded groups like Pheasants Forever and the National Wild Turkey Federation create sanctuaries for wildlife. Hunters are directly responsible for the resurgence of some species, like the wild turkey and whitetail deer.

Nebraska’s mountain lions have made a huge resurgence in the state. There is an established population in the northwest corner of our state, so that’s where the majority of the hunting is done, but they are all over the state, being captured in Omaha and spotted everywhere between. Not every mountain lion spotting makes the newspaper. Just this past year, a trail camera on land I hunt near Burwell captured the image of a mature male lion, not just a juvenile looking for a new territory. The Game and Parks has chosen to take a few out of the population to minimize conflict with humans, as well to ensure as survival of the species.

In the case of the black rhino, while it’s true that the species is endangered, that’s not due to hunters. Rhino poaching is an enormous problem in Africa, as demand in Asia drives desperate people to profit by killing these creatures and taking their horns. The $350,000 paid at the auction will be donated to the Namibian government to fight the poaching problem. In this way, one rhino will be sacrificed to save several others. Furthermore, the hunter isn’t able to take just any rhino. He must take one of the older males that wildlife managers have determined is past breeding age, and even more importantly, a threat to other rhinos in the area. The animal taken will be in his last days, and a bullet will be a much better way to die than sickness and starvation.

Lastly, Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers and others have criticized hunting mountain lions with dogs and shooting them out of trees. Those who have experienced this will say that keeping up with dogs on a lion track is one of the most physically taxing hunts a person can experience. Shooting them out of a tree is the anti-climatic end to the excitement, and many hunters often pass on the animal they treed, if it isn’t mature or the wrong gender. In fact, there is no better way to determine a cat’s gender and maturity than observing it in a tree. This keeps hunters from accidentally shooting a female or immature male.

I am passionate about hunting, as are most of my fellow hunters. If something doesn’t seem right, please ask us before attacking us.

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