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"You're looking at rebreathers? You have to buy an XXXXX. It's the only good one out there."


"Don't even bother with those scooters. They're stupid and you're stupid if you buy one. You should buy this one instead."


"You still dive backmount? What a dinosaur. Dive sidemount. You have to. It's the only way. And this is the harness you need to buy."


"You're not cave trained? You're barely even a real diver."


"You use split fins? Ugh. Total garbage. You need XXXXX fins. Buy them. Immediately. NOW! Because it will make me feel better about my purchasing decisions."


And really that's what it comes down to, isn't it? Validation.


I have a lot of dive gear I like.


I have - and have had - a lot over the years that I learned wasn't for me. For whatever reason. Some of the stuff in this later category I stuck with for a while. In some cases, for far longer than I probably should have.


I had this one rebreather (doesn't really matter what it was). Argued with that blasted thing for years. It wasn't a bad rebreather; was, in fact, an excellent rebreather. But due to my personal build it never fit or worked quite like I wanted it to.


There was and is no way I can say, conclusively, that it was the best rebreather possible. I can't say that about a single piece of dive gear that I own. Everything is a mashup of strengths and weaknesses.


But dive gear is expensive. After spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on equipment it is hard to fully face the fact that you may have been in error. In any way possible.


You're smart, right? You did a bunch of research. You read all of scubaboard and all the facebook groups and talked to everyone you know or so much as bumped into in a parking lot or on a boat. You got everyone's opinion, discounted the people you think are knuckleheads, listened with rapt interest to the people you respect... and in the end you pulled the trigger on something.


Now you've got to justify it. To your partner. To your bank account. To the divers around you as peers, instructors, or students. To yourself.


You need to look at this bit of gear or trip or training that took ages to save for (or that you'll be paying off for ages) and say with absolute confidence, "It was worth it."


Imagine someone super-active in a your local dive club for years. At some point or another someone came along and suggested that maybe this that or the other philosophy might be more efficient. Or more fun. Or just... different.


"You trained in THAT area of the world? With THOSE people? My god, it's a miracle you're still alive!"


People don't like different. We're a bunch of hyper-tribalistic great apes with cellular technology and fancy shoes. Different may as well mean "untrustworthy."


Which is a self-replicating behaviour. As greenhorns come into the sport, listening to their respected "elders" repeat things like, "We alone know the truth! And that truth is that only people who dive this rebreather right here are cool!" Well... they want to fit in. They want to be respected elders one day, too.


So we find these little cells throughout the dive community standing around in a circle all screaming at one another about how their little group's kit is so much better than all the others. All of them seemingly trying to demonstrate even more brand commitment than everyone else. Like a congregation of snake handlers.


I'm willing to concede that there are some semi-standard bits of kit that are going to be better for certain purposes. And obviously certain types of training are required to safely visit certain environments.


Truth of the matter, however, is that most of what I talk about, what most of you read about or think about as well (paying any residual attention as you may to my random rambling) accounts for only a tiny fraction of what diving is. A fraction of a fraction.


The overwhelming majority of dives that take place everywhere on the planet every day are fairly low-impact, significantly lower-risk dives than what our visitors are doing. And that's fine. The overall industry safety rate continues to be very good, even though there are lots of people who aren't diving using the same dive computer as you.


Yeah, there's always that one guy on the liveaboard that looks like a page out of a Scubapro ad who talks FUCKING INTERMINABLY about how they get a great discount at their local Scubapro shop because Scubapro is the best Scubapro Scubapro. So recreational divers aren't immune to the glamour of totems. But you've got to admit: no one is as committed to their mask as they are their DPV.


When faced with such a conversation about gear, or technique, or training in the future, you might consider rethinking a missionary approach.


It's not the best. Some people might hate it. It was a major investment and I'm pleased as punch that you love your gear; I hope you have hundreds or thousands of happy dives with it. I'd be very happy to hear all about the points you love about it. I'd be just as interested to hear the little things that bug you -- and you and I both know there are things. Maybe it doesn't mean that you're a traitor if you give them voice.


In demanding that everyone around you dive like you and with all the same gear as you, you're not saving souls. You're effectively screaming "I am holier than thou!" in people's faces. Which is weird.


"You ever notice any time you see two groups of people who really hate each other, chances are good they're wearing different kind of hats. Keep an eye on that, it might be important." -- George Carlin

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