A while ago, Amanda at The $900 Facebook Pony did a post that talked about whether big name riders and the like have a responsibility to wear helmets and practice good safety habits since they are paid to be an example, and as celebrities of the horse world, are inevitably demonstrating the habits of those at the top of the sport.This will be along a similar vein, but this post is not about big name riders who are asked to endorse certain products and ideas, and is instead focused around more of the “every man” if you will that may find themselves with a rather large social media following.
The other day, as I was browsing through my Instagram feed, I cam across a post by one of the larger accounts I follow. The account is held by a younger girl (somewhere in the 12-15 range perhaps) who does a lot of work at liberty with her horses. She posts more ground work than under saddle photos, but when she does post photos of herself on a horse, she’s is generally without a helmet. Because she has a very large account she of course has a wide variety of followers, some of whom feel the need to comment on her lack of safety gear, especially when she asks her horse to do tricks like rearing, or she is jumping a big log in a field.
The post I came across asked why people felt the need to comment on whether or not she chose to wear a helmet, and that it was silly for people to say that she has to think about the people who follow her account, because they should be capable of thinking for themselves, or should have parents that moderate their safety practices.
And so I got to thinking. While I can certainly understand being frustrated that strangers feel the need to comment on your life, it also seems to me that having a large social media following does come with some responsibility. Of course, having a large Instagram account or a super popular blog is not necessarily the same as being a sponsored rider who specifically seeks to be an example that people will follow, and yet I think the results are similar. This does not just pertain to wearing helmets. The thoughts,
So the short and sweet version of my thoughts would be that I think as a large account, even if you did not “ask” for internet fame, you have a certain responsibility. As a child/teen, I did not always follow rules my parents set out for me, and I was more easily swayed by examples I saw than I am now. Whether or not it seems fair, the chance of being indirectly responsible for another person’s injury would at least make me think twice about what I share and encourage on social media accounts. This does not just pertain to wearing helmets. The thoughts, opinions, and attitude expressed on an account also set an example, and that (IMO) should be taken into account as well.
What do you think readers? Should people just do what they want, and assume that followers either know that they shouldn’t follow the examples they see on their favorite accounts or have parents/trainers/etc that will be successful in instilling what habits they think appropriate, or should larger social media accounts be mindful of the example they set with the assumption that many of their followers are like sponges?