When it comes down to it, we don’t really know what’s in the hearts of anyone else, do we? All we can do is read what people write and listen to what they say and watch their face to see if we are getting anywhere. The internet provides a place where anyone can feel brave and say what they want to say behind the anonymity of a computer terminal without fear of reprisal.
It’s those who feel the need to draw lines in the sand wherever they go that are probably the most disturbing. Is it fire vs. EMS? Career vs. volunteer? East Coast vs. West Coast? Rural vs. Urban? European vs. North American? We all have a job to do and the job has different elements depending on where we are, what we are dealing with, and how we perceive the issues at hand. Why fight about it?
If we were all the same, I could see being able to say who is better, but it’s the equivalent of comparing apples to elephants. There are similarities in certain facets of the business, but really, as we have said on here a hundred times, emergency service delivery is a very specialized business in your unique community. There aren’t too many tenders wandering the streets of Manhattan, and conversely, there aren’t many six-man truck companies in rural Arkansas. Saying one is better than the other is ridiculous; they don’t compare.
Anymore it seems like the nameless and faceless just want to stir up controversy for the sake of stirring up controversy. Of course, it’s easy to stir up controversy if you have no fear of reprisal. There used to be a certain argument that the controversy was there to open up minds and to inject fresh ideas, and given some recent posts I have been watching, I am inclined to say that I saw no new ideas or the championing of best practices. I didn’t see people fighting injustice with their secret identity. Instead I saw bullies and provocateurs making illogical statements and specifically baiting others, just to get a rise out of someone.
It’s a product of our society, I guess. We can all be intimately connected yet have enough distance between each other to feel safe. People bemoan how uncivil society has become, but forget that when we were all cooped up in our little neighborhoods, if someone acted in a manner contrary to the social mores, they became quickly ostracized. Living in a community with others you had to get along with meant that associating with provocateurs wasn’t safe. Now we can align with people who espouse all kinds of wild ideas and don’t fear anyone, because really, how will anyone know?
Firefighting and other public safety personnel were always respected because honestly, these people were part of our community too. We didn’t do things that hurt others because we felt a certain connection to them. We went to school and church with them. We were likely related in some form or fashion. Our parents knew one another. These days, there’s enough distance that you can be the bully you always wanted to be and hide your 95-pound weakling body behind the monitor. If you treated people like that in your old neighborhood, you’d likely have the crap beaten out of you.
I believe there is a certain amount of merit to having a pseudonym, if it is used for good, and especially if you know that saying the right thing will have detrimental consequences. But I don’t see so much of that these days as the other, the troll who just wants to make spurious statements and not have to back them up. There’s nothing I love more than reading through a thread of meaningless diatribe to find out the idiot on one end is some Junior with the wacker-pack and a keyboard.
If you really want our industry to be recognized as professionals, it requires conduct that is professional. It requires discussion and exposition of ideas, but it doesn’t have any room for intolerance or illogical thought. We must remain open to the perspective of others, regardless of whether they are the aforementioned Junior or the saltiest jake on the truck. But being respective and considerate of other ideas doesn’t mean that we have to lay down and sing Kumbaya if someone is being a troll. Maybe we need to call some of these people out, or even better yet, ignore them, and perhaps they will go away. We all have a responsibility to project what we desire in our society as a good example, and to guide the poor examples either toward enlightenment or toward the exit. In either case, it requires action, not ignorance.