I’ve been mulling over a couple of things for the past few months, and I know basically what I want to say, but there’s a whole bunch of concepts and threads that weave themselves throughout my thoughts. But, I’m going to try to keep myself on track and on point, and hopefully I can do it quick enough that you’ll have no problem finishing the article. The problem is that we are losing ground. By “we”, I’m talking about primitive skills guys, outdoors people, gun owners, knife lovers, and all the folks that embrace our heritage and the things that made our country unique and let us blaze a trail through the wilderness to create this great nation. I recently saw an article that made gun owners, conservatives, and republicans interchangeable–which they aren’t. But, in the eyes of the general population, we are all of the same ilk. Myself, I am more of a conservative than a republican, and probably even more of a libertarian when it comes down to it. But, the thrust of that article that painted us with one broad stroke was that we were a declining population consisting mainly of middle-aged white men. Hmmm. I don’t think I’m middle-aged yet.
But, we are losing the battle in getting the message out about who we are, what we believe in, and we aren’t replenishing our numbers. The number of young hunters decline every year, and lord knows that most of the skills our ancestors used out in the wilderness are largely lost on the newer generations. And, quite honestly, I blame us for those problems. Yes, it’s our fault. We haven’t done a very good job in promoting ourselves, recruiting new enthusiasts to our sports, and we get tangled up in the minutia of protecting our territories. Whether it’s websites about guns, the outdoors, knives, primitive skills, or just about outdoors gear, I’ve seen a lot of people walking off and marking their boundaries to make sure that no other web sites, magazines or news outlets are mentioned. This is especially true with a lot of the various forums online right now. You name it, there’s a forum for it. There are forums about rimfire arms, knives, guns, flashlights, preparedness, survival, primitive skills and whatever else you can imagine. In fact, there are forums about specific brands of products. The information is out there, and there’s plenty of it. But, the failing I see with a lot of sites is that the site owners or administrators get very nervous or territorial when someone posts about an article on another website, or another forum. They become afraid that people are going to visit that other site and never come back. In their minds, that means less traffic, less prestige, and maybe less ad revenues. It might be true on a very small basis, but that’s because there’s not a free flow of ideas and promotion amongst all the sites that pertain to the things we outdoors people really like and enjoy.
I’ll give you an example of what I’m talking about. As much as I love all the types of outdoors topics, activities, and gear, I am just as much a tech freak. I love computers, digital cameras, mobile electronics, and I especially enjoy staying up to date on the latest, cutting-edge technologies. In doing that, I subscribe to a number of different podcasts and news feeds where those issues are discussed. One thing I have noticed, especially with podcasts and social media sites, is that the technology insiders promote each other. If you listen to a TWIT (This Week In Tech) episode, you’ll hear them talking about other podcasts or news sites like TekZilla, Digg, TechCrunch, Anandale, and so forth. If you watch an episode of Cranky Geeks, they are going to tell you about sites like TWIT, Security Now, and others. Even though they are all essentially covering the same type of material and you would consider them as competitors, they still promote each other within the arena of technology news. There’s a couple of reasons they do that. First, they know they can’t be all things to all people, so they’re going to point you to the specialists for a particular area. Second, they realize that if they have a congenial relationship with similar sites, they can help each other by cross-promotion.
The main advantage that the technology sector has over other areas of interest is that tech folks know about the up and coming ways to communicate with people to get their message out. Whether it’s Twitter, Friend Feed, FaceBook, YouTube, Google Wave, Yammer, or any other new technology, they are on the forefront of that new medium using it to draw more people to their sites and to other websites. That’s right. They aren’t using this new instant media technology to promote themselves. They are using it to promote information no matter where it can be found. In doing so, they’ve built good will with other technology sites, and that good will is reciprocated. Our sphere of influence is limited by our territorial natures and the lack of cooperation between various information sources to get the word out about others trying to promote the same kinds of ideas. Our influence is also limited by our lack of acclimation to the newer technologies. Yes, there are forums out there, but forums are just about one of the oldest communication technologies on the web. They are still a valuable resource, probably the most valuable, but unless you know it’s there, you’re not going to get to it without an extensive search—-or a recommendation from somebody on a different site.
Becase we aren’t adapting to the times and harnessing the power of these new technologies to promote ourselves, each other, and the traditions we’d like to see carried on by newer generations, we’re going to eventually fade away into oblivion. The younger generations such as teenagers and the twenty-somethings are all about instant access, dynamic interaction with web content, and having a place where they can participate and voice their own thoughts. Hell, even the Iranians were using Twitter and YouTube to get the word out about what was happening with the protests even when places like CNN and ABC had no clue what was going on. If a country with limited freedoms and venues for communication can utilize this new media technology, why can’t we? If someone posts on our site that there’s a great review on a product we just looked at some place else, why should that bother me? Maybe that same poster put the same thing about us on the other site. Forum administrators shouldn’t get all shaky and nervous because someone posts a link to a review on another site. It’s ridiculous to see people for getting banned or having their posts get deleted for that type of feedback. We should be helping each other, not trying to cut off communication like the Iranian government.
This cross-promotion amongst content providers, web sites, and the various forums is probably more crucial for us than any other industry out there. The main reason is that our heritage, traditions, and the things taught to us by our grandfathers and grandmothers are getting lost along the way. Maybe we are just a bunch of middle-aged white guys that refuse to adapt, and in doing so, are guaranteeing the demise of the principles and values we so indignantly say we want to protect. It’s time to put aside such petty thoughts and isolationist behaviours when it comes to promoting ourselves and other content providers just like us. At this point in our nation, it’s all about information and what gets seen. If it’s on the internet, well, it must be true. And, in our case, it’s more than just about promoting our monetary interests or spotlighting products. It’s about the preservation of our culture and our identity as a nation. In my opinion, I think that’s just a little bit more important.