I’m a little behind this week but you’re just going to have to get used to that as it’s hunting season.
This week’s topic was spawned by a comment I received on a recent Facebook post. The post was a link to an online article I’d written regarding peak rut dates. The gist of the comment was that such articles are hogwash, just meant to sell magazines, and that the only reliable source is your state deer biologist. Obviously, the commenter didn’t bother to read the article as that was basically the point of it. I contacted deer biologists from every state and asked them when peak rut occurs in their state. I even mentioned that at the beginning of the article. The interaction points out a couple things I find troubling about the internet in general and Facebook in particular.
One is that folks seem quick to counter just about anything that’s said anymore. It’s almost as if they feel compelled to argue. The other thing, which is just as troubling to me, is that people just don’t read anymore. If you don’t believe me, go back to where you found this blog post and see how many likes it got.
I run a deer hunting Facebook site with nearly 25,000 members and I continue to be strangely surprised at what does and doesn’t get attention. It’s a bit like that picture of a stick people post and say, “Just to prove people will argue about anything, I’m posting this picture of a stick.”
Case in point: The aforementioned post. There are few things more controversial among deer hunters than the peak rut date (the best deer caliber being one). Self-proclaimed experts will argue ad-infinitum about when it occurs and what causes it, but only if you make a general comment about it. Post an authoritative article and site members will breeze right past it and look for something they can squabble over without having to read more than 2 or 3 sentences.
Site members are constantly asking questions like: “What’s a good deer scent to use during the rut?” or “Should I be calling in the early season?” I post links to online magazine articles on the subject and they get 1 or 2 likes and 3 or 4 hits. Then some yokel opines about what really works best. The experts suddenly pop up like mushrooms after a fall rain and the bickering begins.
As a youngster I was taught to be humble and seek the advice of those older, wiser and more experienced than myself. When it came to deer hunting that meant outdoor writers like Jim Zumbo, Myles Keller and the Wensel brothers, to name a few. Then about 25 years ago knowledge, wisdom and experience were replaced by video cameras. Guys with very limited experience and knowledge were not only proclaimed experts, they became rock stars. And nobody had to read anymore.
It’s not new. When I was doing the trade show circuit trying to sell copies of my first book I would spend 8-10 hours a day answering questions and talking hunting with interested passers by. Questions were numerous and varied but the most common one was: “Do you have any videos?” That was 17 years ago and things have gotten a lot worse.
I realize some of it is generational. In my youth we read books and magazines because there were no hunting videos. Along they came and video killed the magazine star. Then the internet killed video tapes and DVDs. Most folks under the age of 30, and a damn site many older now seek both education and entertainment primarily from the internet, while my generation still clings to the printed page, at least for pleasure reading.
And the computer generation wants short bits. They don’t have the time to ponder petty things like theme, moral, allegory and the music of great writing. They just want facts, and they want them in bite-sized servings. Even what few hunting magazines tat remain have capitulated to the current vogue. When was the last time you read a 2,500-word article? It’s all “Five Top Tips for This Year’s Rut” provided in five, 100-word paragraphs buried amongst creative illustrations and color images, the kind of stuff my generation read in grammar school.
I suppose there’s nothing that can be done, and perhaps these are just the rantings of someone who has given a shit about literature for a little too long. If that’s so I apologize for being so long winded. I’m going to shut up now and go argue with someone on Facebook.