The thing with our hobby’s full-time whingers is that they won’t put or shut up, sighs Brian Keenan
It never ceases to amaze me how much damage negative people can inflict on our hobby. Rather than congratulating those around them on the good work they are doing, they find the least little thing to moan and groan about.
Now I am not suggesting that we resort to the American way – you know the stuff, “Good job!”, “Whoopee, you’ve been to the loo” or some such guff. (Then they go and spoil it all by being unable to spell and failing to pronounce “tomato” correctly.)
No, I am talking about everyday events in bird clubs or show halls up and down the country.
Our hobby is run by well-meaning, mainly unpaid amateurs, out of the kindness of their hearts. Every club official is putting themselves and their own birds second and their hobby first, for the good of others. And as AGM times approach, the last thing any of our hard-working officials need, is to have someone niggling away at the least little thing, like a dog with a bone. There is no future in that, and in some cases it may be the last straw that finally breaks an official’s back.
I even heard recently of one caller who filled an entire answerphone with a series of negative comments that had the owners running for the suicide pills – until they realised that the caller had been too cowardly to leave their own name and contact details. Those people have no place in our hobby, as far as I am concerned.
I am all in favour of well-meaning criticism as long as it is offered objectively, rather than is so often the case, as an unwarranted personal attack. I am sure that any official will accept and indeed welcome criticism or advice if it is correctly offered, as it can provide a fresh approach to any given situation. However, I wonder how many of those who complain would take an official role themselves, and how well they would handle the tasks ahead.
Today, we live in an instant society. The worldwide web means that anyone can air their views on any subject, and too often they do, without thinking of the upset they may cause, or any of the consequences of their actions. “Act in haste, repent at leisure” is a good adage – it’s a pity some people can only remember the first three words!
Only yesterday I was speaking with a club official who remarked that if you do 10 good deeds and make one slight slip-up, it will be the error that is attacked, and the remaining good work will be completely forgotten. He has a point, and it is one we should all remember at election time at our meetings this year. One thing is certain – those who complain the most will not be taking on any official roles of any consequence themselves. They could not stand the criticism.
An example occurred recently at one of the clubs I belong to, where inappropriate complaints had been taken way too far. Behind the scenes there was a clamouring to throw the troublemakers out of the club. Acting hastily, that action could have easily been taken, but it was decided not to do so, for the overall good of the hobby. The whole issue was a complete waste of club time and resources, and detracted from the work we needed to undertake. Overall, we were needlessly placed in a no-win situation, because we would be damned if we did, and damned if we didn’t. In the end, the only comments we received were that we had chickened out on making the decision. Time will tell, but the whole thing could have been avoided with only the slightest forethought.
Another point that is becoming increasingly unpalatable is the constant complaints about judges, questioning their every decision, sometimes even going so far as to suggest dishonesty. It’s mainly those who lose who do this, of course, often individuals who fail to undertake major judging engagements themselves. Birdkeeping etiquette has always been for a fancier to approach a judge quietly and respectfully, if an explanation regarding a decision is needed. But that appears to no longer be the accepted norm. It is occurring in every branch of our hobby, and in my book, is not acceptable.
Brian Keenan is the publicity officer and a vice-chairman of the Yorkshire Canary Club.