Thursday, 25 August 2011

Try less nagging, try more gratitude!

Everybody loves a good ol' witch hunt now and then and it seems since the advent of widely available social media, these witch hunts are becoming a daily occurrence, nowhere else more so, than in the world of conservation and in particular shark conservation.

I use Facebook a fair bit, it's a great resource to let people know all about "From the Office to the Ocean" but is also a good way of keeping in touch with friends, old and new, around the globe but every day, without fail, on my news feed is the latest petition to do with sharks and the latest outburst of indignant outrage at someone or other for doing something or other, often accompanied by a letter template from the same people, often full of misinformation and about a million pages long (maybe a slight exaggeration) that we are told we must mailshot out to the provided email addresses to show our disgust.

The latest one got me thinking though because I was disgusted by this video...

 Check out the article as well, it was that and the resulting Facebook shit storm which got me thinking, one part of the article in particular... "We have the shark and we've identified who caught the shark," said Capt. Dan Sforza of the state Department of Fish and Game. "We are investigating and nobody is going to get away with anything."

The predictable status updates which linked the video alongside calls for everyone to email their disgust to various email addresses almost seemed to be an habitual kneejerk reaction to these types of articles and videos because had they read the article they would have read, and I repeat;

"We have the shark and we've identified who caught the shark," said Capt. Dan Sforza of the state Department of Fish and Game. "We are investigating and nobody is going to get away with anything."

What all this led me to wonder was, how many of these people email people like Capt. Dan Sforza and the Department of Fish and Game to offer thanks for their quick action and commitment to doing something about it? The Social Media Shark Conservation Alliance, or S.M.S.C.A as I have just decided to refer to them as, no doubt mean well and obviously want to see sharks protected but aside from being often woefully misinformed, through no fault of their own whatsoever, also seem to be in a permanent state of fist clenching, teeth grinding outrage. Don't get me wrong, the mindless killing of sharks infuriates me, disgusts me and depresses me and I have been in shark conservation long, long, long before it became fashionable and "Sharkwater" came out, but it can't be healthy and I don't think it helps because like it or not, you end up sounding like some nagging housewife with the people you are addressing, doing what henpecked husbands do in that situation, they stop listening and go down the pub instead.

Think back to when you were a teenager, you might even still be one (lucky you), how did you respond when being nagged and mithered by your mum? Most teenagers would roll their eyes and turn their music up, completely ignoring what's just been said, I know I did, I still do because my mum doesn't half mither me still and I'm 32 (hi mum!) Our mothers do/did this not to make our lives unpleasant or difficult but because they think it will help get things done, things which should have been done previously and which, in their state of un-done-ness (yep, that's a new word) have frustrated mother dearest to the point of resorting to the dreaded nagging technique. Does it ever work? No it almost always doesn't and if you think busy men and women on the other side of the world want to work their way through a pseudo-scientific, factually "creative" email mithering them, from an indignant housewife, student, or any other such individual from the other side of the world or down the road, you're seriously mistaken.

So, how about this...How about writing a brief email of thanks to the people who do all the thankless jobs in shark conservation, to the governments and politicians who have made positive changes or who are trying their best to make them, to the research scientists living off baked beans and meagre government grants to do the prolonged, laborious and often boring scientific studies that kick start any serious conservation effort? These guys don't get the clothing endorsements, they don't get the watches, the TV appearances or money to make films and travel the world doing the cool stuff, they sit in small offices surrounded by files and they meticulously put documentation and proposals together, they knock on the doors, they get their hands dirty and often get beaten down by anybody and everybody but keep going because they believe in what they are doing. Forget the shark conservation celebrities, they get more than enough, it's these often ignored, rarely thanked and highly passionate people and organisations who get things done, often at he expense of recognition for their work when a famous face decides to get involved during the process of dotting the i's and crossing the t's.

People like the hardworking team and politicians behind the Palau Shark Sanctuary

People like the PEW Environment Group who among a ton of other things, are almost single handedly responsible for the creation of the two million square mile Micronesian shark sanctuary and the banning of the sale, trade and possession of shark fin in Saipan (watch the video, they may not get a mention except at the very end but it was them who made it happen.)

People like Shark Free Marinas

How about a letter of support to the Fijian government to thank them for considering the bill which could potentially make Fiji the first Melanesian location to provide a sanctuary for sharks? Don't stop there either, send an email of thanks to Fiji Shark Conservation and Awareness Project

People like The Shark Trust

People like The Coral Reef Alliance

People like Bite Back

Anyway, surely you get my drift by now? Spend a bit of time researching those who are doing great things and let them know you appreciate it, it might actually make you feel good and positivity breeds positivity. Outrage and anger are valuable emotions but not all the time, after all, they do say people are more attractive when they smile :)

If you agree, share this blog in places where you think it may just do some good, you might just help brighten someone's day!

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