It’s hard to imagine the airsoft community without social media. With the behind-closed-doors nature of what we do, it’s hard to imagine how we’d connect to other players without it. But is it damaging airsoft?
There are some really good platforms for sharing ideas and kit online, although the latter is becoming somewhat abused now by some retailers, sporting cliques of ardent supporters, some of whom puff their chests out with “sponsorship” deals and assume a level of celebrity to go with it. Since Facebook decided Airsoft was the root of all evil and chose to willingly hurl bans without question, this has led to some retailers attempting to gain an advantage over their rivals by having pages banned, although ultimately this damages both parties and could impact on the supply and future development of kit and new technologies through businesses being lost to keyboard warriors. Thankfully we’re yet to see the bigger companies involved in foul play but it may well result in the loss of smaller, but still innovative companies which would be a great shame. Smaller businesses are increasingly reliant on their social media profiles for support and sales yet this destabilisation is growing.
Personally, I’m fairly active on Facebook, particularly the sniper specific airsoft groups. Down the years it has been a hugely important part of my own development, being able to share pictures and information and learn from the experiences of others. I would not have met so many fellow players, nor been invited to attend so many great events. Sniper Ops is my go-to group because of it’s general willingness to demonstrate cooperation, although not totally without issue, but I’m in a lot of other communities, from the global to the secretive, and the one thing I struggle to understand is the increasingly toxic environment that we’re creating online, on a platform that should really be used to benefit everyone, rather than cast such a negative light on Airsoft to new players and increasingly pushing older ones away. It’s disappointing that normally the trouble starts with a small number of Internet nazis who refuse to see beyond their own opinion, nor allow others theirs. They know inflammatory or ridiculous comments will trigger responses from the wider community, especially those unable to control emotions and hiding behind a screen (you would wonder if any such comments would be made face-to-face; I’ve rarely seen any argument at a site that didn’t relate to hit taking).
Unfortunately, with the world taking a dim view of guns at the moment, despite centuries of gun ownership, we need to be standing together and supporting our interests, instead of trying to make ourselves look stupid. Although for some that would seem less than possible.
As I’ve covered in previous blogs, I do feel Airsoft is becoming a shopping exercise too with far too many players now trying to rely on buying ability, fooled by adverts like :
I apologise to any fans but these guys were easy examples. And
Players are spending less time developing the skills to play, or learn tactics, because we’re flooded every day with sales adverts and carefully edited videos. Players aren’t learning to build their own rifles up from parts, or develop their own loadouts, and as a result the skirmish field is becoming much less challenging for those that do. We don’t learn to work with the kit we have, and master it as real soldiers do. We just go out and buy more, never progressing or expanding our skill set, never getting the most out of ourselves. Indeed, I can look at the stats on this blog and the biggest views I have (1000+)* are for product reviews, rant blogs get about half, and yet a tactics one I did is only on 12, though I thought it the most useful.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could get back to working on the more important things? Combining our knowledge, helping small businesses to support us, producing entertaining videos, sharing great pictures on instagram, or just finding some like minded people to talk inbetween games. There are still some good communities out there (pm me on Facebook or Instagram if you want to join one). I will also thank Kicking Mustang, currently public enemy number one, for all the help he’s given the community with his unselfish crafting videos, instagram live feeds on tactics, and answering questions on messenger. Headshots aside, a great example to the online community.
*yeah it’s nothing big but it doesn’t need to be. I’m not chasing 10,000 followers so I can get a sponsor who might throw me a bag of bb’s now and then. I do it because I’m an airsoft sniper, and it’s what I love doing. If it helps even just a handful of people, then I’m happy and it was worthwhile.
Main pic – SAS in Iraq 1991. Using basic and borrowed kit, and relying on their training to kick a lot of ass. There’s a lesson in that. Also, just picked up one of those chest rigs for £1, to prove that a cheaply equipped player can perform just as well as anyone else. But that’s another blog…