Perception Can Shut Us Down — The Image of Recreationists
Photo: 4/02, Del in middle of Vice President Dick Cheney and congressman John T. Doolittle, working towards enhancing the image of the Rubicon Trail
Perception is a reality – we all have heard that. So if the public perceives motorized recreation as bad, it will be labeled bad. Then you add the few in our crowd who don’t know or follow the rules, and we have a negative image – perception to the public.
Staying on the trail sets the best example
Recently here on ModernJeeper I wrote more about motorized outlaws and how they can ruin it for us all.
Bad apples spoil the barrel. That applies to our image as well.
Sometimes it takes only one bad apple to spoil the bunch
Money and Politicians
I wish I knew how much money the anti-access folks spend on their image – and perhaps how much of that money goes towards tainting the image of recreationists. Have you ever wondered how the media always seems to be able to get its hands on plenty of bad press about multiple-use on public lands?
It occurs to me that someone else is painting MY image – not me. I don’t think I like that.
Politicians certainly have access to no shortage of photos and “studies” showing a one-sided view of multiple use of our lands. Anti-access folks seem to be able to come up with plenty of fodder that taints the image of recreationists and other multiple users.
Targeted activities include: driving on beaches that for years were public access (Black Sands Beach, CA); logging (everywhere, USA); mining (Utah and other western states); controlled burning (Los Alamos, N. CA, etc.); snowmobiling (Yellowstone); and four-wheeling (most everywhere, USA).
We (recreationists and multiple-users) are portrayed in a bad light. But how on earth do they manage to convince a large segment of voters to believe this garbage?
Yes, the voters herein mostly live in cities and don’t necessarily understand recreation and multiple use; but some of them must understand. How can they be so manipulated into believing that “using” our public lands (or in some cases, private lands) is the same as “abusing” them?
I suggest thinking of your image the same way you think of your reputation or your integrity. Most all of us will go to extremes to protect our reputation, credibility, integrity, and honor.
Well, our “image” should get equal protection. It’s time to find ways to enhance (and protect) our image.
Let’s Put A Shine On Our Image
I can see about 5 steps we need to take (all of us).
STEP 1: I’ve written before about self-policing. That’s the first step. Don’t allow someone to violate the rules. Stop them. Correct the situation on the spot if you can without getting confrontational.
STEP 2: Education is the second step. Share your knowledge of responsible use of our lands and resources. If you need to know more, take the effort to learn more. Become informed so that you can inform others.
STEP 3: The third step is spending money on our image. Groups, clubs, organizations and individuals need to spend some bucks on enhancing our image. If we have to hire consultants, let’s do it. If we have to re-direct some of our precious budget to brochures, handouts, etc., let’s do it. If we have to sponsor folks to represent our clubs at big events wherein we can show our positive image, let’s do it.
STEP 4: Being proactive is the fourth step. If we spent only ¼ of the time developing image-building ideas as we do planning a recreational event, we’d probably be light years ahead. We may have to get “outside the box” and think along different lines. I suggest we get ahead of the curve and develop ways to enhance our image locally, so as not to always be reactionary. We also need to work with manufacturers who put ads in magazines and help them be proactive with us.
STEP 5: Banding together (uniting) is the fifth step. Multiple use is the answer. Banding together builds strength and provides a united front. We can also share budgets; find ways to enhance multiple images at once; and lessen the impact of anti-access propaganda. It takes some planning and a lot of cooperation, but I believe we can do it (for sure, we can do more of it).
Enhancing our image can be done by vendors and businesses as well, educating customers on responsible Jeeping.
So Bottom Line?
I feel my honor, my integrity, and my reputation are on the line when someone portrays my image as “bad.” I am not bad. Our image is who we are to most people. Perception becomes a reality. I’m tired of someone else telling me what my image is. It’s time we took control.