ON good days, island Facebook groups are filled with lost phones, missing traffic cones, free pants that turned out to be slightly too small and rants about dogs.

They mingle happily with notifications about the prize bingo, the fact that the papers haven’t arrived in the shop yet and whether anyone has a spare cot.

On bad days, an entire tourist ­economy seems to hang in the balance because Linda from Ayr is upset that someone on Facebook suggested “wild ­camping” with a 3.5 tonne motorhome isn’t in fact wild camping, and now she feels so ­unwelcome she is looking at going to Cornwall instead.

Island Facebook groups are often a ­magnet for visitors. The pages are ­inundated with unsolicited holiday snaps, questions about seals, visitors ­requesting dog sitters, discussions about Sunday opening and arguments about topics relating to tourism including, but not limited to; seemingly lost lambs, the horror of cows on the road, parking, and the fact that things are not like they used to be.

Different islands have different types of Facebook groups. Some work on an ­invite-only basis – keeping things ­relatively local. They field tourist ­questions in other, more relevant, groups. Others didn’t quite manage that level of control.

Enter the Isle of Harris Facebook page. It’s known throughout the islands as ­being the most feral of them all. ­Residents of other islands love nothing more than following along with a good Harris page rammy, safe in the ­knowledge that their own awful group is a delight in ­comparison.

The National: Luskentyre beach and graveyard in Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides, United Kingdom..

On one hand the Harris page is ­comedy gold, and on the other it is an absolute horror show. Local residents long since gave up trying to advertise or discuss things. They mainly field a never-ending stream of questions from people who seem to lack the capacity to do a basic Google search. “How do we get to Harris?” is a favourite.

A recent request about where to buy raw dog food ­elicited a response about rabbits worthy of a Fringe award. And just last week, the page was inundated with requests to join after a photo went viral of a family camping on a beach with their car.

General stupidity aside, the last month has seen a far more serious topic emerge. A petition was created by a woman in Harris asking that parking be reviewed at Luskentyre Cemetery. She has ­recently lost her husband and has been ­repeatedly unable to visit his grave due to the ­volume of vehicles parking in the cemetery car park in order to visit the nearby beach.

The Luskentyre car park is a ­long-running sore spot for the ­population of West Harris. The prevalence of ­campervans is another sore point. They descend on Harris in the summer and are often found nose-to-tail in the ­aforementioned car park. As the new models get steadily bigger, so does the strength of feeling.

(I should make it clear that there are many excellent motorhome drivers. But there are also many who are not, and they often end up in tourist destinations where tempers are beginning to fray as August looms.)

Sadly, it wasn’t long before the ­cemetery petition and the topic of ­campervans were conflated – not helped by one which parked so close to the ­cemetery fence they knocked a post ­sideways. That picture hit the Facebook page and the comments started flowing. The admins gamely allowed over a ­hundred ­responses before turning the commenting off.

The National: The family set up on Northton Beach on the Isle of Harris. (Isle of Harris Facebook Group).

Campers caused consternation last week (Image: Isle of Harris Facebook Group)

There followed multiple posts from tourists and campervan owners declaring how unwelcome they felt. How they “do all they can for the locals” and how they will not be returning, or in some cases, not arriving at all, due to the “sniping” in the Facebook group.

Sniping in the eyes of visitors. A plea for understanding in the eyes of many local residents. Between them is a gulf a motorhome could fill. Some try to reason. The entire thing descends into an undignified scrap outside a pub, and once again the comments are switched off.

After the campervan knocked the fence, The Sun interviewed someone who felt unwelcome because of the ­responses on the Facebook page. Another visitor reported that no-one waved at them and they felt so sad about it that they went home.

There are more important things to feel sad about. An island resident asks for understanding so that she can visit a grave, and the result is a group of adults having a tantrum because they feel unwanted. That’s not a healthy response. No-one should have found a way to turn it into a conversation about themselves and their holiday and how their feelings are hurt.

So, do these perceived opinions ­reflect local consensus? Are visitors ­unwanted? For a start, most members of the page don’t actually live in Harris. A little ­digging shows that there are 40,000 members of the Isle of Harris page. ­Approximately 38,000 more people than the population of the island itself. And if you can keep up long enough in these fast-moving threads to work out where the middle ground actually is, you are ­doing better than most.

Is it possible that swallowing the faux outrage that develops in such an ­unhealthy microcosm might be ­foolhardy? Those with enough good sense to stay quiet, do so, and the ­majority of residents stay well clear of the page.

Across the islands, whilst many worry about the effects of tourism, they have nothing against the tourists themselves – assuming that they make an effort to respect the place.

Rather than cancel an entire ­holiday based on the opinions of a Facebook group, it’s worth doing some good ­old-fashioned research before you ­arrive. Follow signs when you are there. ­Support local businesses, pull over when there are cars behind you, be mindful of ­graveyards and access to fields and ­driveways. Park in designated spots, ask sensible ­questions, go to crowded areas earlier or later, eat in restaurants and seek out people who live in the place.

And if someone doesn’t wave on a ­single-track road? Don’t take it ­personally. The most likely reason is that they are having a bad day.