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Old 01-29-2009   #1 (permalink)
Bumper's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Winnipeg, Canada
Posts: 14,212
Don't Pick On The Newbies

Okay, okay, here goes.

Let me state at the outset you should consider yourself warned that this is likely to be a long read. As many of you will be aware, I can tend to be somewhat verbose (ie: wordy) when I get my teeth into an issue that interests me. Not that I necessarily have much to say, but I can say it at some length. This is being put together at a time when there isn’t really an immediate need for it. I intend to put it in the bank, and post it at some time when it’s appropriate.

This is in response to yet another instance of a “newbie” asking a question, being subjected to some perceived ridicule, or referred to the search function, or otherwise picked on by some folks that frequent this forum. Almost invariably, another group or individual leaps to the victim’s defense, and chastises the perpetrators. So, I just thought I’d throw out some of my thoughts on this and some related matters.

First of all, I don’t really think it’s about the weather, or the condition of the beach, or how to get to Playa from the airport, or where to buy furniture, or favourite music/actors/movies, or bus schedules, or if the ice in drinks is safe, or if cel phones work, or what the exchange rate is at the cambios, or taxi fares, or what bar to go to in order to watch a football/soccer/hockey game, or how ATM’s work, or which is the best hotel, or my personal favourite - what currency to use. While these are genuine concerns, I happen to feel they’re not raised as much for the desire to gain information, but because the person inquiring wants to participate. They want to belong and become more a part of the group. In many cases, the newbie has been lurking for a while, and now feels they want to take a more active role. So, they ask a question, sometimes about something that’s covered on a regular basis in other threads. So, what do they ask about? Probably something pretty universal that they’re comfortable with. It’s like being at the cocktail party. Along with the crab puffs, spinach dip, deviled eggs, monkey peckers, and scotch, you’ll almost always encounter “Hey, how about those Lakers/Packers/Eagles/Bruins/Yankees?”, or “This rain is sure going to green-up the lawns. “, or “Did you see the price of gas this weekend?” Not so much a quest for knowledge as a desire to belong. That’s not to trivialize the question, or say it isn’t legitimate, just to see it for what it is. Having said that, there are instances when some shiftless, lazy slug shows up, and raises issues and questions that make it apparent they want somebody to take responsibility for planning their entire trip, and guarantee its perfection and success. Fortunately these slack-jawed, mouth-breathing, knuckle draggers are generally easily identified and routinely dismissed. Also, they’re extremely rare, and enhance the forum by disappearing from it. Lets face it people, some folks are no lose when they depart. Like that old saw that goes, “If you loan somebody $20, and never see them was probably worth it.”

Now, let’s take a look at the Peeps that make up the community that is the PlayaInfo family . I don’t know if you would consider it “progress” or not, but I think you’ll have to agree that most folks change in their approach over time.

First, we’ve got the “freshmen.” Newbies and other relative short-timers. Some of them may not have even been to Playa yet, or they may be planning their first trip. This group is full of enthusiasm, energy and excitement....and questions. Some of them have been lurking long enough, and doing research, and using the search function, so that they can answer a lot of questions for their compatriots, and are usually eager to offer information and opinions. This is the group that’s most frequently directed to the “search” function. You have to realize that referral isn’t intended to be a brush-off, or an implied insult. There’s a vast pool of information available in other threads, and you will be exposed to plenty of valuable things while you’re looking for something else.

Then we come to the sophomores. These folks have been to Playa one or more times, but still bask in the rosy glow of their trips there. They are likely the group that provides the most recent information, and are usually the most generous with it. They, along with the next group are the ones we should likely look to field most of the freshmen’s questions.

Next are the juniors. Often veterans of several trips to Mexico, and frequently other vacation spots as well. This group will have a huge pool of valuable information to share, and hopefully they’re willing to do so. Ideally, they haven’t become too blase about their experiences and are still interested enough to adopt sort of a mentoring roll and provide guidance and advise.

Finally, the “seniors”, the over-the-hill-gang. They’ve been going to Playa for years, know where all the bodies are buried, where everything is, and how it works. Unfortunately, some of them (us) have become pretty jaded and casual about the Playa experience. They’ve (we’ve) been there...done that, and heard it all before, again, again and again. When one of those same old, same old, inquiries comes up again, there are a variety of possible results. Some of them (us) ignore the question rather than saying something caustic (the “Thumper” syndrome). Others will jump in and impatiently point the way to the search function. Fortunately, there are still a few of the old-timers who are still interested in helping out, and motivated to provide information and helpful links and suggestions. This entire bunch of elders is the one that is most frequently accused of being exclusionary, or clickish, or elitist. I don’t think that’s really the case, at least not intentionally. It’s just that so many of us know each other so well, and for so long, that we finish each other’s sentences. By the way, some of these “seniors”, are just that. Somewhat older than many who frequent the board, and I can tell you from personal experience, as they (we) become more “seasoned” one of the first thing to go (right after the knees) is their (our) patience and tolerance. Can you say “grouchy? How about “cranky?” These aren’t excuses or apologies, just the way it is, in my opinion.

Where do you fit into this demographic? How do you perceive your role as a participant in the forum, or are you not comfortable with labels or pigeon holes?

Speaking strictly for myself, and my personal philosophy, when I see one of “those”questions, I count to 10, them generally 10 again. It generally works, but I readily admit sometimes a smart-assed, sarcastic, or unnecessarily harsh reply creeps out. The constant battle I fight is to keep from making a response that goes for the laugh. That is, after all, what I hang around the forum for.....mostly. I admit I’m not always completely successful. I can resist anything but temptation, but I’m working on know how it is...very old dog, trying new tricks. I remember my virgin post. It was prior to our first visit to Playa - way back in the last century. I asked a question about the name of the chemical you bought to wash your fruit and vegetables in, and where to get it. I fondly remember the kind manner in which Anna handled the inquiry. I don’t recall what my subsequent posts were about, but I know my initial experience was so positive that I felt comfortable in taking part and becoming a part of this virtual community. I guess you could say I’ve made several posts since then, but if my first had been handled in a less friendly and supportive manner, I might easily have been intimidated to the extent that I never returned. I’m such a shy, sensitive introvert, after all. Please, folks, don’t pick on the newbies. We were all the new kid on the block at one point, so just try to remember what it was like, and be as patient as you can. Count to 10.....the hard, dos, tres.....

So, is there a conclusion to all this, a resolution, a suggestion for a solution to the issue? Nope. Was I going somewhere with it? By no means. Is it a matter of “Do as I say, not as I do?" I sincerely hope not. Am I anticipating a wide spread epiphany? Hardly. Is the forum going to become a kinder, gentler place? Maybe just a little, though I would hate for it to go the way of wimpy, toothless, saccharine, political correctness. Sometimes, chains require jerking. These are just some more-or-less random thoughts I had on the subject, and I just threw them out as an expression of own opinions. Am I likely to alter my own approach? Perhaps, but probably not. (Like I old dog.) Do I expect anybody else to change? No, not really. A little navel gazing from time to time isn’t a bad thing though. About the best I would hope for is that this might prompt some of us to take a look at ourselves in the mirror. I know I did. Pretty scary. I’m worried. I look almost as bad as my passport picture.

Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a pristine, well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting "Holy Shit...what a ride!!"

Last edited by Bumper; 01-29-2009 at 03:30 PM..
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