Today, we are not going to talk about tactics, gear or training. We are going to talk about something much, much deeper. We are going to talk about the state of the tactical community and a phenomenon I call random negativity.

First off, believe it or not, there is a “tactical” community. This community is made up of different characters. This is a normal thing for most communities. But our community is also made up of different branches. We have active soldiers, LEOs, veterans, CPOs, Outdoor enthusiasts, responsible civilians and also (Yes I will call them out as a important part) collectors and airsoft players.

ALL of those guys form a knowledge base, a swarm, that can help each other in achieving their goals. But now lets look at the problem that, at the moment, often prohibits this.

Below you see whats makes an informal (non formally assembled) group:

  1. membership: feeling of belonging or of sharing a sense of personal relatedness,
  2. influence: mattering, making a difference to a group and of the group mattering to its members
  3. reinforcement: integration and fulfillment of needs,
  4. shared emotional connection.

Now let’s face it, no matter which part of our community we focus on, most members are males with an affinity for conflicts. Whether the community members make a living of protecting people or participation in conflicts or have an interest in self-defense or reenacting battles. All of us have this affinity, there is nothing bad about this. But we are more willed or feel more often forced to protect our opinion.

Looking at the different audiences of our community we see us faced with conflicts that start with the mixed nature of the community itself. Just look at the four factors of a community. Who is a member? Is the airsoft player a member just as the active duty soldier is ? What are the consequences of a groups influence? Will some people be bad for the image of the group? Best example for this is the “prepper scene” which recently got a lot of bad press. Does the mixed community really reinforce my needs? Do we even share an emotional connection? We all know that the collector interest comes from another level of needs than the interest that brings the armed professional to a news portal.

Those basic differences can be very disturbing to the average male and conflict interested audience. Whether he is a professional or a reenactor. This disturbance causes uncertainty, what in turn causes intolerance and in turn intolerance is an antagonist of socialization.

What happens now as a defensive mechanism, is random negativity. This can be observed in your favorite, big, tactical comments section. While there is much constructive criticism in form of comments there is also much to observe on the other side of the spectrum. Basically there is trolling in all communities, but let’s be honest, we see it on “tactical” news portals more often than on portals with a different focus.

The first degree of random negativity that can be observed is destructive criticism on a comment. You will see comments that aim to expose the one that did the first comment. But this will help no one, its simply trolling. Hiding behind a Facebook profile and do random destructive criticism is an easy way to put yourself on top of others. But you aren’t an useful asset to the community. It’s just playing a power game.

The second degree is related to the topic itself and is pure random negativity. By this I mean comments like “Yes, for sure …” they often pop out of nowhere. The commenter is just trying to give himself a nebulous mask of omniscience and superiority. He doesn’t want to comment on the topic at all, instead he wants to show that he is there and knows everything. He is basically trying to tell he is there and a guy who “has seen it all” while doing everything to hide his own uncertainty.

Those two forms of random negativity are what we don’t need, luckily our community isn’t easily offended and we like to make fun of ourselves and others. But what we don’t need is a bulk of nonsense.

Those patterns of negativity aren’t limited to the internet. You will see them at every major gun expo, like SHOT show. If you work on a both you will always encounter guys that come to your company just to show that they are badass. You present them a product and they will just go talk about the bad parts of it or even go to a completely unrelated topic during this process . Don’t forget they are just playing a role to hide behind.

Same happens during training while teaching. You will always encounter a student who pretends to know it better, without talking about the how, or even worse, the student with his arms crossed in front of his chest and just shaking his head while you are teaching. As soon as you adress him and ask if there are any problems he will only smile and say nothing. I can only encourage you to simply confront guys like this, playing a role will not help them when it’s time to perform.

If you come from the operative side of things you may also recognize this behavior during debriefings of exercises. Did I say we didn’t talk about tactics? Sorry for lying to you! Basic sociology is a powerful tool.

Community development always takes time and goes through the following four stages.

  1. Pseudocommunity: When people first come together, they try to be “nice” and present what they feel are their most personable and friendly characteristics.
  2. Chaos: People move beyond the inauthenticity of pseudo-community and feel safe enough to present their “shadow” selves.
  3. Emptiness: Moves beyond the attempts to fix, heal and convert of the chaos stage, when all people become capable of acknowledging their own woundedness and brokenness, common to human beings.
  4. True community: Deep respect and true listening for the needs of the other people in this community.

At the moment, the tactical community is, in my opinion, somewhere between chaos and emptiness, more and more people are showing their “shadow selves” while struggling for power and position. Just compare the current social media comments to the old days of the message boards and there is a certain change in communication and communicated content.

Its time for deep respect and using a community the way it is meant to be. A true community is neither achieved by pretending that you are someone you aren’t or by lacking respect for people that may in your opinion not take part in this community. Realize that the “tactical” community is an informal, heterogenous group, you cant simply choose who is in this community, but you can chose which kind of communication will get feedback.