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It's a new (mundane) year, and the perpetual roar of the Society's multitudinous Facebook conversations has subdued to a fusillade of emoji champagne corks popping. I haven't noticed too many people starting 2016 off with online New Year's Resolutions, which is very sensible - since anything you post will come back to haunt you later. And that is the theme of this missive.
As a Society, we are living so much of our lives on line now, and it is a joy to see the way that so many members are sharing their achievements, and providing each other with congratulations and suggestions. People who used to toil away in isolation, and then occasionally appear at major events with complete new wardrobes or siege engines, are now able to show their work in progress (assuming it isn't a Secret Plan).
The counterpart, of course, is that we all have a much wider audience for our criticisms and complaints, and self-doubts than ever before. And when we say something negative online, it echoes and lasts and resonates for so long. This is hardly a problem unique to the Society - but there are some ways that the effects can be special to us.
The life of the Society is made up of a series of events, ranging from a one-hour collegium to Festival and Faire. All of those events are run by members, volunteering their time and efforts in service of their friends, and in service of people they've never met whom they want to entertain and enlighten. For the most part, they're amateurs. I've never been to a Perfect SCA event, but pretty much every event I have been to, has been better than the steward thought it was. Because I couldn't see what went on behind the scenes, and I didn't know about the things they'd hoped to do, but ran out of time for.
We need people to volunteer to run feasts and festivals and tourneys, fighter training and all those other events that make up our offline, physical life in the Society. And to want to do it again. And that means encouraging and supporting each other in our stewarding efforts, in the same way that we encourage each other when people post pictures of their blackwork or armour online.
The rules are very simple, and very old - congratulate people publicly on the things they get right. And when you want to criticise, do two things:
A closing note - the other thing I've noticed about general messages (like this column) is that everyone seems to think the bad bits are aimed at them, but never assumes the good bits could possibly relate to them.
So if you've just read the last two paragraphs and are now racking your brains, feeling guilty, trying to work out what you said that made me write this: Stop It. Go and review all the times you've said something good and supportive (even if it was just Liking a post), and spend a few minutes glorying in the times you've helped build your fellow citizens and the Society. Bask in the warm glow - then go forth and make a new year's resolution to be nicer to each other online.
Yours in service to the Crown and Kingdom,
Lord Nicodemus Novello
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