Standing Together: Creating a Community of Support
Welcome to the Standing Together blog series. From the hobbyist to those simply making the switch to vaping, it is something we are all passionate about. With the widespread media attention electronic cigarettes have been getting, we are entering a time of change for our community. Whether those changes are positive or not, there are certain things we can do as a community to stand together. And standing together is the only way we can be strong enough to even hope to influence the upcoming changes. Today we’re going to discuss the topic of creating a community of support.
I would like to start out by saying that I realize I may end up stepping on a few toes. I will be as tactful as possible, and truly do not mean offense. However, there are certain things that I believe need to be said. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here we go…
Just like most of you, I started vaping to quit smoking. It worked, and I didn’t even realize it. One day I was vaping at my desk while working, looked up and realized it was 5:30pm and I hadn’t had a cigarette all day. What was even stranger was, I didn’t notice. I couldn’t believe it and looked in awe at what I considered a miracle device in my hand. I was using the Evod starter kit. Basic, nothing special, just a little Evod, but at that moment I knew it had changed my life. Now, I know this story is not so different from those you’ve heard and read a hundred times. So, why am I sharing? It’s important to remember where we were when we started. Empathy is a key component in being supportive. Without empathy, we cannot understand the impact a person is truly feeling. Still, you’re wondering why I’m bringing up empathy, so let’s talk about it.
I have noticed a growing trend within the community of disapproving of and even bashing other people for their choice of hardware. More often than I care to remember I’ve seen comments in forums, twitter, and other social media mocking eGo users or bashing Cloud Chasers. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of positive information, tips, and support. Yet what used to be a small fraction of the community, seems to be increasing in either size or voice and expressing dissention between eGo users and drippers. Now, I’m not going to burst into a rendition of Why Can’t We Be Friends but I do wonder why it matters what anyone else is using? This takes us back to the empathy I was talking about earlier. The majority of us started vaping to quit smoking. Some have turned it into a hobby and a way to enjoy the journey. Other’s are perfectly content to use their starter kit until they decrease their nicotine content and eventually stop vaping entirely. We don’t have to like the hardware other people use, but we do need to be tolerant and understanding. Neither way is right or wrong; that’s the beauty of vaping. There is so much customization and personalization that there is something that will work for everyone.
Another ongoing trend that concerns me is the appearance of superiority to smokers that is being portrayed. Guess what, most of us were smokers. When someone came up to you when you were smoking and told you it was going to kill you, and you should quit, how did you respond? Were you receptive, did you get defensive, or did you just blow them off? We all knew it was going to kill us, but we couldn’t or just didn’t want to stop. I personally liked smoking, and while I knew I should quit, there was always a part of me that didn’t want to. If anyone tried to push gum, patches, or heaven forbid, pills at me I got defensive, dug my heels in and immediately craved a smoke. Thankfully, I started working at Mt Baker Vapor, where quitting wasn’t a requirement, however I was given a starter kit with some e-juice. No pressure, no looking down on me because everyone I was working with used to be just like me. As a community, we can’t shove vaping down smokers throats or worse, look down our noses at them. Why would they want to switch to something, when the people they see using it are so negative? Instead, we can talk about the positives we have experienced from vaping, and answer their questions. Most importantly, answer their questions while keeping in mind the fact that they don’t know anything about vaping. When someone says “What’s that?” Don’t respond with “My Shotgun with a Russian”. Let them know it’s your vape or your version of an electronic cigarette. If they show interest, go into more detail and explain how this is helping you stop smoking. Keep that old saying in mind “explain it to me like I’m five years old”. Keep it simple and keep it positive.
We are under a microscope in the media, by health officials, and the general public. Whether we like it or not, public perception does matter. If we are viewed as a divided community, we have no power behind our voice in public perception. We’re going to be the two kids that both get grounded because Mom is too fed up with the fighting to listen to who said what. To look at it another way, we’ve all had fights with people we care about. When they’re angry and yelling, do you hear their point or just that they’re yelling and respond in similar fashion? It’s a calm and reasonable voice that gets heard. Again, we’re all passionate about vaping, and that’s a good thing. The key is projecting the positive side of the passion. The only way to accomplish that is to stand together and project the same voice across the community.
In summary, we need to shift our focus from criticizing each other to being supportive of anyone and everyone that is using vaping to quit. Also, we need to offer positive support and encouragement to smokers, instead of an air of superiority because we were able to get off the cancer sticks, and they haven’t yet. We want to see a long, and reasonable future for vaping. Legislation is coming, and we need our voice to be heard to influence the inevitable changes to come. The only way we will be heard is if we all stand together as a community and influence public perception in a positive way. Let’s step back, stop focusing on what hardware or e-juice other people are enjoying, and remember what’s really important. We’re a community, and because we can empathize, we can offer each other support in a way that no one else can.
Come back next week when we take a look at courtesy and vaping in public places. Until then, let us know your thoughts. Stand together vapers and vape on!
Written by: Michelle Harnden