It’s been two whole months off twitter now and my mind has settled back into the rushes and lulls of everyday life, without it lurking around to distract and upend me. I’ve learnt a great deal about myself and about other people since and as always, I’m using my blog to reflect and share.

In those two months, maybe two or three nature and conservation names have actually bothered to get in touch with me. As I’ve said before, this shows what you actually ‘are’ to these people. You’re an opportunity for them, in supporting you, to promote themselves. Then there’s the other end of the spectrum – those that expect and extol your love of their own work and then don’t even bother to read yours. Two massive names in writing said no to writing cover comments on Bird Therapy; one replied with I don’t want you to think I’m being a dick etc etc – but said they would sing from the rooftops when it was published… they didn’t. I’ve also learnt that unless what you are doing, in some way features someone else (like an upcoming work with lots of these people in, which I was going to be in but wormed my way out of when I realised the hypocrites I’d be sharing the pages with) – then why would they even bother with it? This has been evident in the lack of interest in my teaching pack; especially now there’s going to be a natural history GCSE – which I’m hugely sceptical about anyway. What a shame that a tried and tested resource, which is free, only gets minimal coverage. Add to this, the massive number of organisations I contacted, merely to ask if they’d help spread the word; who said no or just didn’t even bother replying. The same old people, post the same old self indulgent and self-promoting shite on twitter, this isn’t going to change. I get that you kind-of have to, when you’re promoting something, or if it’s your livelihood at stake, but it doesn’t half look rank from the outside. I started an Instagram account again – I like photos – but even on there already, I’m purposely seeking interaction and engagement. Thankfully not praise or validation any more though, which is emotionally positive – I’ve broken the ludic loop. As soon as I made it, I blocked a tonne of people who’d let me down, which felt good. All of the celebrity nature names who had done just that, basically. I’m lucky though, that Bird Therapy and the work I’ve done with the book and now the teaching pack, is not my job, so I’m not reliant on its success. It’s heartbreaking to see that I can’t seem to make a go of it without twitter, although indicative of the social media-driven society we live in now. I did all this to help other people, which I know it all has, not to chase status like some think I did. So it’s wonderful that I’ve been able to skip away back into my everyday life, our beautiful daughter and the career I love without having to constantly whore myself out for validation. I feel, free as a bird.

9 thoughts on “Free as a bird

  1. You are right Joe and I’m glad to see you’ve got your feet firmly on the ground and you’re seeing thru all the celebrity guff. I’ve given up twitter too – it’s full of twats who hate you if you don’t agree with them so I do without it now. I might dip in from time to time in the future but I might not. You’re doing the right things in spending time with your family and being outdoors – spring is just around the corner – my fave season! Yay!

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  2. It’s great to hear that you are feeling much more like your “proper” self again. I rarely post on social media for many of the same reasons – I tend to be a reader rather than a poster. We’ve experienced the nasty side of social media at the charity I work for in the last week or so. One of our ex-volunteers decided to publically abuse us because she didn’t get her own way on a decision. A great example of how to work for a mental health charity – not!
    The freedom in your mind is definitely showing through in your recent blogs about the local patch and family time. They are beautifully written and have gone back to being so poetic and evocative.

    As an aside, I am seriously tempted to apply for the Cley Visitor Centre job advertised recently by Norfolk Wildlife Trust! Shame it’s so far from my family. 🙂
    Best wishes.

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  3. Don’t worry about the celebrity nature community, who are they anyway in the grand scheme of things . Ordinary folk like me appreciate your work and look forward to your updates . I am not in a field where I can promote your teaching package but will bear it in mind when I meet anybody who may be able promote it . Keep up the good work and thank you

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  4. I was disappointed when my own books didn’t really make that much of a splash, and I cringe at the negative reviews even though they’re usually unjustified (this book wasn’t what it clearly said it wasn’t in the first place, etc.). OK, there may be too many cardigans in one of them. I just stuck to the day job, too. I was talking about Bird Therapy to a friend today though as we broke our run to watch a heron in the local teeny tiny nature reserve.

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  5. Hi Joe

    Social media is a toxic madness and not the greatest human achievement

    You are appreciated at West Midland Bird Club

    I can announce the project I have been working on for the last long six months for our Ladywalk reserve

    We have been ‘given a mitigation grant’ by HS2 of £10k towards the installation of an artificial sand martin bank

    HS2 will run close to our reserve and preparation work has disturbed birds

    Personal views about it aside, £10k to our club is huge

    A big part of our bid is about educating children, young people and novice birders

    A sand martin bank provides many topics to cover – migration, usual breeding sites and nest destruction from flooding due to climate change as examples

    The design means the ringers can collect data about birds and chicks using the nests

    Ideal habitats, feeding, raising a family all are of interest

    Sited next to a hide, observations will be easy to arrange

    We were ‘gagged’ by HS2 until 31 January before we could announce

    Now we are official we would be most interested in your education packs

    We now have an education officer and will be working with him as our project develops

    We hope the ground will be dry enough by late February to early March to get the bank installed – the reserve has seen a very flooded winter so far

    I quoted your book and work in the bid as being a beacon of hope

    HS2 seemed impressed so well done for your inspiring work

    You are of course very welcome to visit Ladywalk or any of our reserves as an honoured guest

    Ladywalk is the only place that brings me some inner peace even if the mud is a challenge to my poor mobility

    Is there a way to send you details of our project for your own interest?

    All we can do is keep the faith and be true to our inner self

    Kind regards

    Yvonne

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  6. Hi Joe, thank you for writing so honestly – as always. Who we are and what we do should never be dependent on the approval of others, though of course it’s always nice to be acknowledged. Rest assured that there are many who are benefiting from your writing, and also in time maybe the pack will see its way into various places. At the moment, in my own context, I can only utilise one section of it but that doesn’t render it redundant. Be patient and keep on keeping on – I’m sure you’ll get more feedback over time!
    Andrew

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  7. Hi Joe,
    I have missed you on Twitter. You were one of the people I cherished for truth telling and inspiration. The more I am on their I see the dangers but there are enough user friendly people , like Carl Bovis, to keep me there.
    I was recently asked to give a talk on walking and spirituality and Bird Therapy was one of my books that I immediately turned too. It is one of those precious books that I will find a resource for years to come and I have friends who similarly value it.
    Thank you again and for letting me share in the excitement of last spring.
    And for finding voice. That certainly encouraged me too.
    One of the many none celebrities who owe you a great debt.
    All the very best,
    Ian

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