Perception

We all have a job to do.

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.

  • Bill Carey

    Excellent…simply excellent.
    Folks, this is one of those posts you find that you must print it out and post it in quarters. Post it in the dayroom, the kitchen and the head. Leave it on the chief’s desk and send one to the neighboring house.

    Bill Carey

  • Peter Lupkowski

    I too am stunned by the illiterate, uneducated, and mean spirited rants that I see personally and via comments on the internet. Where is our civility? But in fairness are we not just a microcosm of our own changing world? Case in point the recent election advertisements. Nothing about what Mr X will do, just about the bad that Mr Y has done. It may not have started with us, but it is certainly as nice thought that it could end with us.

    Thanks Mick, for provoking us…in a good way.

  • http://www.firehousezen.com truck6alpha

    Well, as is said sometimes, “Negativity sells.” But I heard that once or twice in the seventies as “Sex sells.” Maybe we need to be proactive and consider what sells next, and be there before everyone else.

    Thanks, as always, for reading.

  • Jon D Marsh

    You know, I was sitting in a bar one afternoon many years ago enjoying a happy hour brew when suddenly, a character sitting a few barstools down from me shouted out ” I don’t know what crawled up my a–, but this place always makes me feel good !!” Perhaps thats one way of exclaiming great pleasure-no matter how uncouth, but after reading this excellent Mick Mayers entry, I feel the same way as that barstool neighbor of years past !! Intoxicating Chief, simply intoxicating!! Thankyou!

  • http://www.firehousezen.com truck6alpha

    Jon,

    I’m glad you liked it, although I kinda wonder about that outburst from your barside neighbor. But hey, whatever works, huh?

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Michael "Mick" Mayers

Deputy Fire Chief - Operations Division for Hilton Head Island (SC) Fire Rescue and an Emergency Response Coordinator with the United States Department of Health and Human Services  National Disaster Medical System Incident Response Coordination Team.

FE Talk: Humpday Hangout

Recent Posts
Career Change December 13, 2014
Think Fast November 29, 2014
Comments
Mick Mayers
Someone I Would Have Liked To Have Known
Ruth, Thanks for the comment, although like Tom said, you missed my point. What I was saying is that I am honored and impressed that someone who not so long ago would not have been given a chance - for reasons of race and gender- was given those accolades. She is someone I would have…
2014-12-12 11:24:00
Tom Bouthillet
Someone I Would Have Liked To Have Known
There are plenty of white males who don't deserve to be firefighters. The most qualified individual should get the job regardless of race or gender. That doesn't always happen for a variety of reasons that don't need to be hashed out here. But way to miss Chief Mayers' point entirely.
2014-12-11 12:08:00
Ruth Phillips
Someone I Would Have Liked To Have Known
I've heard of all of these "substandard candidates brought in to fill a role" taking the jobs from those who truly "desire the job and are willing to embrace the lifestyle of a firefighter." Do you mean people of color and women taking the jobs from the more deserving, uh, white male? I'm baffled as…
2014-12-11 04:21:00
drydiggins
Think Fast
My best friend once described flying in 'hard' IFR like being inside a giant ping-pong ball... everywhere you look, featureless white. I've appropriated that to describe people who seem to go through life in their own personal ping-pong balls. Apropos of the bumper sticker "I can't see you so don't pretend to be there."
2014-12-09 04:21:00
Mick Mayers
Leadership That Matters, Part 7
George, Thanks for reading! Yes, I'll actually do that this week. And I actually downloaded that same meme myself a few days ago- I like it.
2014-12-06 15:25:00

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Although I am affiliated or employed by certain entities, I in no way speak in this forum or others on behalf of those entities unless I have specifically stated such. Any implication otherwise is doing so contrary to my agreements with those entities. The result is that the observations and opinions by myself or on behalf of Firehouse Zen are not sanctioned by any other entity other than Graffiti Train Sherpa Publications and are protected by the copyright laws of the United States of America.

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