A quick pop quiz for all you environmentalists out there. Tell me if any of the following is familiar:
You’re in the pub with a group of greeny type associates (of course you are, where else do environmentalists gather?) In turn, they each mention that they are; Working on a really cool project at the moment, thanks very much; Have just got their newt/pesticide/bat license; are starting their own niche company combining artisan beer and bushcraft or are about to jet out to the Amazon to study an obscure type of annelid worm. Do you:
a) Congratulate them and buy another round as a celebration, even though it’s not your turn.
b) Quickly make up something really great that you’ve been doing at work recently, when in reality you’ve been stuck in the office all week entering species data in excel.
c) Brood over your pint and secretly want to stab them in the eye while also being grudgingly happy for them.
OK, I’ll admit it, I put a) in as a bit of a laugh. But be honest, it’s c) isn’t it?
I’m not going to claim that this is something unique to environmentalists. It’s just that of course we tend to have differing value systems to many, so this jealousy is not generally of the ‘how much’ variety*. We tend to get jealous about the oddest things.
What’s this got to do with Conservation, you might ask? Where are the Adventures? Where’s this coming from (and where the hell is it going)? Well I tracked back my irritation this week to this post by a former volunteer chum of mine:
Now, I know that Facebook is just one giant, universal game of brag concocted by our Lizard overlords to keep us all distracted, but this was beyond the pail (pale?). This had gone past one-upmanship. This had effectively ‘won Facebook’ for me. How can you compete with this? My friend has essentially dropped into visit, told me all about her amazing project and left before I’ve had a chance to make something up about my life.
On top of this I get regular updates from two other former colleagues, lounging around in far-flung corners writing blogs of their own. I’m not sure Adventures in Conservation, with its tales of misanthropy and barely concealed contempt for its fellow man can compete with that from its concrete home in the grim urban environs of Stockwell.
It’s not just the readership, though. It’s the growing pool of experienced and qualified applicants and a diminishing well of opportunities and resources in the sector. You see, I didn’t just think of a good title and then decide to write any old nonsense after all – this was merely a ruse to make a point about the competitive nature of my field and how some of us get to do really cool stuff and the rest of us just sit at home writing about it. I don’t know, maybe you don’t suffer these pangs of envy. Maybe I’m just a self-centered git.
And yet…and yet given all this I’m still glad (through the gnawing jealousy) when an associate gets a great new job, starts an interesting project, gets some good publicity or, damn them, swans off to some far-fetched part of the globe to prance around in the jungle counting monkeys or some such.
Still, I’ve got my chainsaw license and I did chase Wallabies around the Isle of Man for a couple of months. I’ve got that to fall back on at least.
*As an aside, trust me on this, some people from other walks of life can get rather angry when you reject the value system they have imposed on themselves. Which amuses me no end.