What we do as divers, whether it’s reefs or wrecks or caves or whatever, is objectively stupid.
We put on a bunch of questionable, brightly-colored life-support equipment that we bought from a person wearing cargo shorts and sandals or off of eBay. Then we let some societal misfit guide us into a hostile, dangerous environment just to float around like a potato and look at stuff as we go, “Neat!”
So why, in the name of Ganesha’s trunk, do we take it so goddamn seriously? Why do we form cliques, and start long internet arguments, and demand shop loyalties or boat loyalties or instructor loyalties, or strict adherence to certain gear or philosophies? Why to we fall into the weird, tribalistic patterns of “us or them?”
Someone commented on something I’d offhandedly glossed over yesterday, about how the community has created this environment where it’s hard to approach people with atypical or inefficient gear configurations because the culture is all somewhat confrontational. So to suggest, “Maybe you should move this hose over here,” is interpreted as, “You’re stupid and your instructor is stupid and you’re a terrible diver who needs to never do scuba anymore. Idiot.”
Someone commented that this was an important point, because it can scare people off. And they are absolutely right. I’ve seen it happen. You probably have, too.
People come into our dumb game bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to float around and look at cool stuff. And before you know it they’re being darkly cynical about that jerkoff shop full of strokes up the street.
Because they’ve taken their cues from the “old-timers.” They look up to the divers around them with more experience and want to be cool like them. So they emulate them. In all ways: diving, gear configuration... attitude.
Some people are willing to endure the cynicism and the shit-talking. Just as many, probably more, aren’t. And you can’t help but wonder if that’s a contributing factor to dwindling numbers of people entering and sticking with the sport at all levels.
I can’t recall the number of conversations I’ve had with people about how they just couldn’t listen to XXXXXX anymore. I’ve got dedicated and passionate friends that have been driven out of volunteer positions with organizations because of negativity and hostility.
Why? It’s just fucking scuba diving. No one outside our little tribe gives half a damn about what goes on inside it. No one cares about anyone who is scuba-famous. No one cares about how awesome you look in all your fancy gear. No one cares what gang you run with, they’ve never even heard of them.
For my part: Yeah, this is all I think about; I honestly don’t have any other hobbies. Which is probably unhealthy. But I do try my best to maintain perspective.
Yes, there is elevated risk that needs to be mitigated. Yes, as an instructor and guide it is my responsibility to ensure, with literally vital seriousness, that the people who come to me are prepared to safely go do the things they would like to go do. But I try not to fall into the sarlacc of “I’m so bad-ass,” about it.
I try to remember that this is a recreation. A thing we all do because we think it’s fun.
We float around like potatoes and look at stuff. That’s it.