Divisions in the Vaping Community – Part Two
Is There Value in Having Values?
Does Our Vaping Community Have Shared Values?
As discussed in Part One of this series, part of what makes a community is the shared interests and values of the population that makes up that community. It’s pretty obvious why we come together as a vaping community, we share a common interest in vaping. However, is the fact that we come together over our interest in this one thing enough to hold us together when our interest is challenged? I am going to go out on a limb here and say no. I find it hard to believe that everyone’s interest in vaping alone, is the sole force behind us remaining united as a community. It may be the trigger that motivates us to find similar people, but the glue that binds us, I just don’t see it. I think we need to dig a bit deeper than just vaping alone. This will require examining some hard questions.
It’s Obvious! We All Value Not Smoking Anymore, Right?
Is it that simple? Can we sum up everything right here and now with the answer to this question? Honestly, I don’t think so. If you spend some time on social media in vaping groups, you will find a growing trend of individuals who vape for the “hobby/pleasure” aspect alone. They may have never been smokers, or those who may have started by kicking their habit but have moved on and dropped that primary focus. Like it or not these are members of our vaping community whether or not they want to be included. From the eyes of the outside world, they are just as much a vaper as the gas station cig-a-like vaper who is desperate to quit. Now don’t get me wrong, cessation of smoking is a very common goal among vapers but a “Shared Value” no, not in my opinion. I don’t believe its a motivator that will act as a catalyst to move the entire vaping community to action when challenged. It may help in many situations but is more a specific tool to be used in specific circumstances, not a value. We need to accept this before we can begin to examine ways we can motivate our entire community.
What about Advocacy? It’s a Shared Value Right?
No. Unfortunately not everyone who vapes is a vaping advocate. To be honest, I wouldn’t expect everyone who vapes to be a vaping advocate. It’s human nature and a personal choice whether to advocate or not. Again, is there a segment of the vaping community who advocate? Yes. But is it a shared value? I am going to have to say no. If it were, I believe that there would be a much stronger, more organized, and much more impactful advocacy movement in the vaping community. I am certainly not trying to play down any efforts from our vaping advocacy groups. They do great work in advocating for vaping. However, I do believe that if advocacy was a shared value among all vapers, advocacy would look very different than it does today. Take breast cancer awareness as a comparison, in that case I do believe that community has advocacy as a shared value, and their results are a testament to that unity. Certainly a goal for our community. But as it stands today, I don’t think advocacy is a true shared value in our vaping community.
Fine I give up! We Don’t have Shared Values.
Well let’s not make a judgement too quickly. What about the concept of educating/education? One thing I have noticed, and tend to mention a lot in my writing is the tendency for vapers to help each other. Is passing along knowledge, or providing help a shared value? Think about what you see daily in our community: Reviews, How to’s, hint’s and tips, the list goes on. Also, it doesn’t seem limited to just when things aren’t working from a “technical” standpoint. Our vaping community is filled with examples of vapers educating vapers. Advocacy groups are formed to pass along information and tactics. Modders form groups to discuss design. There are groups dedicated to reviewing juices, hardware, and even accessories. I think it’s in our “Vaper DNA” to help another vaper. This I think is our shared value, the need to help other vapers, well.. vape!
The question we need to answer is how can we leverage this, a shared value in the vaping community, to overcome issues that divide us? Many of us have been “raised” in a vaping community that quickly reacts with “Don’t Take My Vape!” when threatened. When challenged whether from outside our community, or within, about our personal style of vaping we react negatively assuming the goal is to take it away. We NEED to overcome this and I think our shared value to educate each other can help.
So, Where do we Go From Here?
I think if we approach what divides us as vapers from a position of knowledge sharing, and less from gut reaction (Don’t Take My Vape!) we can begin to overcome some gaps. In the next couple of installments of this series I am going to look at some of those gaps, and how we might be able to use the shared value of educating to help overcome them.
Vape Loud, Vape Proud!
If you wish to contribute to the conversation you can always email firstname.lastname@example.org. Just list “Divides” in the subject line and the name you would like me to use if I quote you. If you prefer I don’t use your name just list anonymous.