I think that everyone deserves a blooming big pat on the back – we made it through January!

It’s felt like a seriously long month for me, but I’ve no idea why as we’ve certainly not been hanging around. Mary has been going from strength to strength, both at shows and in her training at home, and it’s amazing how much she has changed in the three months that I have been based with the Fletchers.

There has been one thing playing on my mind recently, and not in a good way. Social media. I know, I know, everyone is talking about online bullying at the moment, but I just have to give my two cents worth.

As lots of you know, social media has an enormous part to play in our equestrian world. I know I certainly use it regularly to ask for advice, buy new products, seek professional recommendations and generally get inspiration from people in both my immediate circle and the wider world. There are so many positive things that social media can bring, and I have been very lucky to be on the receiving end of a lot of this positivity, and, vice versa, I know that I have brought inspiration and ideas to lots of wonderful people who have been following Mary’s journey.

Sadly, not everyone who has access to the internet uses it with good intentions, and whilst I have been on the receiving end of death threats previously, the most recent bunch of Negative Nancys seemed to really hit a nerve with me. I am baffled that grown adults (well, I assume they are adults, judging by their colourful language and ability to offend in just a single sentence) take great joy in joining a huge online equestrian forum, creating an anonymous profile with some bizarre name and then proceeding to belittle those who believe that there may just be more than one way to skin the proverbial cat. I wonder if people do not realise the power that their words can have on someone, and I always try and base any of my responses to criticism on words that I would actually say to someone’s face.

When, as a community, did it become acceptable to completely destroy someone else based purely on what they see on social media? Yes, we can all be guilty of only putting the most impressive or dramatic of updates online, but who wants to know that I’ve just eaten a whole block of cheese and am on my seventh cup of tea of the day? I feel like we’ve reached epidemic levels of online bullying and trolling, and it breaks my heart. Maybe people are no longer taught to keep quiet if they don’t have anything kind to say, or maybe it is the power of the anonymous profile that keeps them glued to their keyboards, waiting for their next victim. Either way, something has to change.

Apologies for the miserable post, but if one person reads this and it makes them think about their online behaviour then that’s as good a start as any!

Until next time.

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