Who do you trust? That’s the million dollar question at the root of changes that have recently taken place in fishing. The landscape of social media and how it’s affected interpersonal interactions has changed the paradigm. A once fairly straightforward sport has morphed into one where good anglers carefully consider with whom they fish and what they share.
Trust is the currency of a new movement in serious fishing circles, especially since the online world has changed at light speed. Here’s how I think it has evolved and the impact.
In the beginning, sharing catches electronically was exciting and a way to help other anglers improve. Most saw that as fairly innocuous, but our online presence at that point was usually limited to personal emails. Our privacy was still secure and highly personal. No worries!
Next came the social media craze, with many seeing this as a way to share catches on a mass scale. It was a big inducement to increase public exposure, something some folks can’t resist! Many of us spent a few years gently testing the social media waters, but when we saw big catches and guys boasting, our normal competitive nature took over and the race to one-up others became a disease at times.
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The game had changed in a very short time. Now you were at risk of having all your private and best hard-earned information hijacked and broadcast to thousands of anglers in seconds!
Before long, posts turned into forums where catches were dissected, applauded and hated! Good anglers would go online to find, to their horror, that their best spot had been promoted and exposed to hundreds of hungry fishermen! A special kind of cynic and critic arose … a fishing troll!
Many friendships were broken after a buddy learned that his now ex-friend couldn’t resist showing off all he knew on Facebook. For some, social media was a new drug. There was a slow but steady transition for several years as guys caught on. Many anglers cautiously pulled back to evaluate the troubling trend.
With the creation of large and small online social media fishing groups, the next evolution occurred. Some now saw an opportunity to cash in – building a huge group of starving anglers that they could feed with new and developing information, no matter where it came from or how it was procured. Many anglers shrank back from this as they realized that these groups were out of control and would take anyone’s information to feed the juggernaut.
The game had changed in a very short time. Now you were at risk of having all your private and best hard-earned information hijacked and broadcast to thousands of anglers in seconds! Having an anonymous angler taking pictures of your lure, spot, etc. could mean that folks were already on their way to your location.
All these issues have produced a real trend toward very small groups of good anglers who have a lot to lose. These anglers religiously monitor each other and the guests they invite. Does this guy have a boat, belong to any online fishing groups, or post stuff he shouldn’t? Is he trustworthy? An indiscreet posting on Facebook could end your trusted status.
Unfortunately, everyone has become paranoid and secretive because of the toxic online environment currently being manipulated by aggressive anglers looking to leverage every bit of info they can. Some guys analyze every picture online to determine as much as they can while others use magnified optics/cameras on the water to steal what they can. They show no scruples.
These new closed groups are not posting to social media, but only to intimate buddies and don’t bring in new anglers unless they’re vetted! Information is handled carefully, because a breach can be disastrous to everyone! I recently had a good angler say he doesn’t trust anyone anymore – and he was fishing solo!
Bottom line, do you really trust your buddies? Many folks just don’t know when not to share privileged private info online. I believe in helping others, but getting burned is terrible. Respect and trust! Yes, that’s the true foundation of good sportsmanship. Never give up!