digihitch.com often gets a lot of excited new members to the website after showing up in big media (newspapers, radio shows, magazines) or when something in pop culture mentions hitchhiking and people start to google it.
This has especially been true since the movie INTO THE WILD came out in September 2007. Young people who normally wouldn't give hitchhiking a second thought are coming to the website and considering doing their own trip.
PLEASE REMEMBER... the best way to serve people as a Road Team Member or Moderator is [b:3ab7ae9e31]NOT[/b] always to say YES YOU CAN. You DO NOT KNOW the intimate details of a internet user's life. Often you won't know the person's age, real gender, living situation, history of abuse or emotional maturity, etc. Sometimes you will THINK YOU DO, but it is a trivial thing to some users to lie or stretch the truth to get the type of answer they want... or simply to be admired or respected.
For this reason, avoid blindly motivating new users to hit the road. The purpose of digihitch is to create community and encourage those who have ALREADY CHOSEN hitchhiking, not to "win over" those who are in doubt. Let an internet user come to their own conclusions about hitchhiking from their family, real-life friends, reading, media watching, and everything else in their life.
THIS IS IMPORTANT:
DIGIHITCH.com IS NOT REAL LIFE. IT IS NOT THE ROAD. WORDS AND IMAGES ARE ONLY THAT, facsimiles of ideas and experiences.
Yes, we are real. Yes, we try to speak truth. Yes, we represent the act of hitchhiking and exploration as best we can. But in the end it is ONLY THAT: a REPRESENTATION.
If anything, we as Road Team members and Moderators should ERR ON THE SIDE OF SAFETY when it comes to sharing information and tips. Mostly for these reasons:
1. digihitch.com is NOT REAL LIFE. The road is real but this is not the road. MANY THINGS IN LIFE ARE BEST SAID IN THE RIGHT TIME, WITH THE RIGHT PERSON, IN THE RIGHT PLACE, FACE-TO-FACE, IN REAL LIFE.
Therefore, encourage people to TALK TO REAL, LIVE PEOPLE for advice. Fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, best friends, best friend's fathers, best friend's uncles, priests, that close friend of [insert name here] who backpacked around the country, or around the world... whoever the person thinks may have some life experience, and whose opinions and actions are respected.
2. You DO NOT TRULY KNOW the person you are talking to. You DO NOT TRULY KNOW the person's life experiences, maturity level, etc. Even if you think you know, you DO NOT TRULY KNOW. Therefore, point out that hitchhiking is not for everyone. If in doubt, talk to people you know and trust about it. If still in doubt, don't go.
3. A person whose heart, soul and body is ready to hit the road WILL HIT THE ROAD NO MATTER WHAT. Why would you try to push someone who-- through their extremely detailed questions or doubt-driven hypothesis on this website-- proves themselves not ready. (Yes, detailed questions are a sign that a person needs assurance, but assurance is best given by someone ACTUALLY KNOWN and PERSONALLY TRUSTED.) Sure, tell people what you did, but don't say, "GO ANYWAY. TRUST ME." Trusting you may not be the best thing for this person.
I went on my own despite warnings. Many of us veteran hitchhikers on digihitch did the same thing. "Virtual Advice" was not an option, and when it comes to a first-time decision to hit the road, advice from a stranger (even a friendly, virtual stranger with a detailed user profile) is not the most reliable. There comes a point when a person must push through to find a personal truth. Don't try to be that person's personal truth. Do not say go.
4. Even though digihitch.com is NOT REAL LIFE, we have to consider that some people will sadly think it is. They will smear their drama throughout the website. They will try to get as many people as possible to root for them, think of them as cool, become admired - or even hated. For some, it's simply the attention that matters. They may go nowhere and tell people they have. They may say the big trip is coming and "I need as much help as you can give me as fast as possible!" but their whim fades. Some will go to the road who have ABSOLUTELY NO ABILITY TO FACE SUCH A REALITY. Maybe they went to prove something, or to passively commit suicide, or to fulfill some movie/song/book fantasy, or to get lost and fade, or whatever other reason there is that can lead to severe damage out of carelessness.
DO NOT BE THE PERSON WHO SAID "GO" WHEN YOU DON'T TRULY KNOW IF GOING TO THE ROAD WAS THIS PERSON'S BEST POSSIBLE REALITY.
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I love you guys, and the effort and passion you put into digihitch.com. I'm humbled knowing that some of you have seen the work I put in, and the honesty I work to share, and as a result are motivated to channel yourself through digihitch. It's truly awesome!
But, please, stop and think when you are posting a reply to a new user -- or even a longtime digihitcher. Be mindful. Be respectful. Create community. And remember that every community is like a fishing net. There are spaces between the ropes or strings through which some folks should simply slip through. We don't need everyone, but all who appreciate and respect others will be welcomed.
(And those who don't appreciate and respect, no need to retaliate... just let them slip through -or tell me if they need to be physically removed and cast back in the virtual sea/)